Review: Documents To Go for the Nokia N900

As I mentioned last week one of the pieces of software that I have been waiting to see released for the N900 is an Office editor and creator. I actually am a bit surprised that DataViz launched this software for such a small Maemo 5 community when the larger Palm webOS community has been clamoring for something from DataViz or Quickoffice for quite some time. The Nokia N900 is a good fit for such software due to the QWERTY keyboard, large display, Bluetooth keyboard support, and TV out capability, but I am not sure how many copies they will sell at $29.99. If you purchaed their Viewer Edition, version 1.0, then the upgrade to Premium is free so that is worth the $10 you paid for the Viewer. You do get 30 days to test it out and if Office editing and creation is essential to your work then the $29.99 price may not be much of a concern and it certainly wasn’t back in the days before the iPhone forced software prices to drop like a rock.

Documents To Go for Maemo 5 currently supports viewing, editing, and creation of Word and Excel files with support for PowerPoint editing and creation under development. PowerPoint support will be released as a free update to DTG Premium Edition owners.

Key features

I use Documents To Go on my iPad and Google Android devices and so I was pleased to see a very familiar interface and icon/menu system here on the N900. Check out my video below for a walk through the software to go along with my written feedback on the software.

As stated on the DataViz website, the key features of Documents To Go for Maemo 5 include:

  • View, Edit & Create Word 97-2010 files (.doc / .docx)
  • View, Edit & Create Excel 97-2010 files (.xls / .xlsx)
  • View PowerPoint files
  • Keep original formatting thanks to InTact Technology
  • Mult-level zoom support
  • Live embedded hyperlink support
  • Interact with Table of Contents and web hyperlinks in your files.
  • Password protection of files

Installation and initial setup

The first thing you need to make sure of is that your Nokia N900 is upgraded to the latest version 1.2 Maemo 5 operating system. The install file is sized at about 9 MB and there is currently no desktop companion software for synchronization. After installation, you then will see Word To Go, Sheet To Go, and Slideshow To Go icons on your N900 launcher screen. There is no global, centralized Documents To Go application on Maemo, which I think would be nice to have. After you tap on Word or Sheet To Go you are walked through a registration process with the options to Buy Now (takes you to their website), enter activation code (if you already purchased), or continue with the 30-day full version trial. After you enter your registration code for one of the products, it is applied to the database across the others so you only need to enter it once.

You will then land at a page (the file browser) with buttons to Open a document or create a New document. You can also tap the top central menu and see options for clearing recent files, about, settings, and activate features. The only thing here in these settings is to determine what format new files will be created in, either MS Office 97-2004 and XP or MS Office 2007-2008. You can top Open to browse for a supported file or tap New to create a new one.

Supported file types include the following:

  • Word 97, 2000, X, XP, 2003, 2007, 2010 for Windows
  • Word 98, 2001, 2004, 2008 for Macintosh
  • Excel 97, 2000, X, XP, 2003, 2007, 2010 for Windows
  • Excel 98, 2001, 2004, 2008 for Macintosh
  • Text (.txt)
You can use the Slideshow To Go module to view PowerPoint presentations and they do look good on the N900 display. There is currently no editing capability here though. You can use the TV out capability of the N900 to present on the road.

Using Documents To Go for Maemo 5

I am going to break this section down into the three modules of Documents To Go and include the available menus and options in the software. Much of the functionality in the first module applies to the others and I will not repeat myself for each section below. I also tested out the InTact Technology and from my experiences so far all of my special formatting (headings, logos, etc.) stayed just as they were on the original document even when transferring via a USB drive connection. You can also email documents directly from within the application, as you will see.

Word To Go After tapping the New button you will see a blank white page with your cursor at the top left of the first line. There is no support for portrait orientation, which is fine since the keyboard works in landscape mode and the landscape display is optimal for Office document editing and creation. You will see the menu options and software functions along the bottom of the display. Moving from left to right along the bottom, we see nine icons for document control, editing, and more. Tapping the first five icons opens up a submenu with icons or selector boxes appearing above these icons. The first one is for saving the document, the second is for character formatting (bold, italic, underline), the third for paragraph formatting (left, center, right, and justified), the fourth is for text color selection, the fifth is for indent right or left, the sixth is for zoom levels (50%, 100%, and 200%), the seventh is to find and replace text, the eighth is to email the document, and the last one on the right is to toggle full screen on and off. You can also use the volume button to zoom in and out in Documents To Go.

You can also tap the top center toolbar and see options for formatting (character and paragraph), Go to, Properties, About, and Help. Character formatting includes font (4 available by default), size, bold, italic, underline, text color, and highlight color. Paragraph formatting is the same as the icon with left, center, right, and justified. The Go To options include top, middle, and center.

Word To Go works well, especially with the dedicated Ctrl button on the N900 giving you easy access to copy and paste functionality right from the keyboard. The arrow keys work just fine, but using a program like this does make me miss having a Tab button. If you try to leave the document without saving then you are given the option to save or close without saving.

Sheet To Go Starting a new spreadsheet in Sheet To Go takes you to a blank spreadsheet on Sheet 1. By default you are zoomed into 50% with options to jump to 100%, 150%, and 200%. 50% is a bit difficult to work with, but it lets you see columns from A to Q and rows from 1 to 35 by default. Similar to Word To Go there are icons along the bottom to format and navigate the application. There are eight icons in Sheet To Go, including save, text formatting, cell formatting, number formatting, zoom slider, find/replace, email, and full screen toggle. Cell formatting options include font selector (3 fonts), font size, bold, italic, underline, text color, cell color, and alignment (general, left, center, and right). Number formatting includes category (general, number, currency, date, time, percentage, scientific, and text).

Since this is a spreadsheet with calculations you will want to spend time working in the cell formatting area. After tapping in a cell you then tap in the top cell input box and will see a red x, green check, and fx icon. Tapping fx pops up the function category selector from ten possible categories. Tapping on a column pops up a menu for fit, hide, unhide, insert, and delete. Tapping on a row pops up a menu for hide, unhide, insert, and delete. You can press and hold shift and then use the arrow keys to select multiple cells, rows, or columns in the spreadsheet. Up in the top right you can tap the visible button to jump to other sheets or edit sheets (insert, rename, and delete). You can also tap the cell name in the upper left to quickly jump to another cell.

There is no chart creation capability in Sheet To Go and I couldn’t figure out how to link cells between sheets. There are a ton of functions available and the software does cover just about everything you would do on your phone with Excel.

Slideshow To Go DataViz stated that PowerPoint slideshow editing and creation will eventually be coming to Documents To Go, but for now it is only available for viewing slideshows. After opening up a PPT or PPS file you see a few controls on the bottom for find, email, arrow forward or arrow back, and jump to a slide. There is also a full screen toggle over in the bottom right corner. Tapping the top center toolbar gives you buttons to view slides, outline, and notes. You can also see options to open a slideshow, save a copy, view the slideshow properties, and view the software version.

When you jump into full screen mode you will see large navigation arrows on the left and right side of the slides. Slideshow To Go can be valuable for reviewing slideshows and preparing yourself to present on the go.

Conclusion

DataViz Documents To Go is a functional application that brings Word and Excel creation and editing to the Nokia N900. It is as powerful as most other mobile Office applications on other platforms and knowing DataViz they will add functionality to make it even better. Their InTact Technology does a great job of maintaining your original document formatting too.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Features: 4
  • Stability: 5
  • Speed and performance: 5
  • Ease of use: 4.5

Overall: 4.5/5

starStarStarStarStar

Pros

  • Native Word and Excel appear as intended
  • Fast and responsive
  • Easy to understand and use control icons/li>
  • Stable

Cons

  • Higher priced application

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19 Comments to Review: Documents To Go for the Nokia N900

Ernesto
August 3, 2010

The worst drawback of docstogo is that it won’t open Word files created in Openoffice.org.

Sethdove
August 3, 2010

Blue keyboard “support”. That’s simply not true. There are some hacks that some say work fine, some say do not. And the hacks are not that easy to do.

Matthew Miller
August 3, 2010

I used my Think Outside keyboard for text input in the past, but just tried again on my N900 and am not able to get it to work. My N900 pairs and connects to the Think Outside keyboard, but for some reason no text shows up when I type. I crossed out the BT keyboard part and will continue to look into this.

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civil engineering programs
September 15, 2012

Howdy! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

Nannypenny.Com
November 1, 2012

Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

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