Quickoffice vs. Notebooks for iPad – Which is Best?

Got a lot of writing to do? Need to organize your work into folders and want to work with Dropbox? Do you need access to the actual file so you can edit it on your desktop? I’ve come across two great writing apps that offer a folder hierarchy and work very well with Dropbox and for the most part, they cost about the same. Quickoffice offers file management and full word processing capabilities. Notebooks for iPad also offers full file management, a full screen editor, tasks and Dropbox (among others) support. So which is best?

First off, Pages is also a really good text editor, but its file management is rubbish. And by rubbish I mean non-existent. Trying to handle a large number of files will drive you mad. And trying to organize documents will make you weep. For this comparison, it simply has to be kicked to the curb.

Quickoffice however offers a very nice file management interface. To start with, you can make a new file or create a folder. The list is scrollable so you can quickly find what you’re looking for. You can then make a folder, make folders within folders and combine your documents in a way that actually makes sense. If you’re working on a multi-file project you can easily group them and edit them in order.

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Notebooks for iPad also offers folders and a usable hierarchy. You make Books and create notes within the Books. You can nest Books within each other to group ideas and keep things tidy. And even though both apps support folders, Notebooks actually makes it easier to jump between documents and folders by offering a "Jump" button on the screen. With Quickoffice you need to save the doc, exit the editor, find the document, then open it up.

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Both apps have good word processing functionality. You get to use the whole screen without it being cluttered by buttons and sidebars. There are no hoops to jump through, simply create a new Note or File and you’re working.

Obviously, Quickoffice is a full office suite which bundles together a spreadsheet and presentation package. If you’re looking for Office on the Go then Notebooks will fall short. It’s only meant to handle documents and it does that part very well.

Also, both apps can handle multiple document types. They can both open Word docs and can be called from other applications like Goodreader or FileApp. However, Notebooks can open and display Word docs, but it can’t edit them. Quickoffice can open Word docs, edit and resave them in either 2003 or 2007 format.

As you may expect, Quickoffice supports full text formatting. Text can be set to bold, italic, underline and different font sizes. Notebooks can use different fonts for the whole page, but doesn’t support bold, or bullets. Its documents are actually saved as plain TXT files.

It seem like this is all very one sided, that Quickoffice can do everything Notebooks can’t. Well, not quite. Notebooks integration with Dropbox is actually much better. Books are saved locally to the iPad, meaning you can work on them whenever, wherever you like. The same is true for Quickoffice. However, Notebooks offers a sync button that pushes all the documents within a Book to Dropbox. You don’t need to remember to save each document to the cloud. Press the button and it’s all taken care of. Also, you can sync ALL Books to the cloud automatically. With Quickoffice you need to save each document separately and create the folder structure by hand. Quickoffice lacks this replication function and if you’re pulling multiple files together that can be pretty frustrating. Quickoffice does a nice job of working with the cloud, but Notebooks simply does it better. Getting notes in an out of Notebooks is just a little bit easier.

So which is best? Notebooks for iPad comes in at $8.99 and Quickoffice comes in at $11.99-19.99. The Quickoffice price fluctuates a fair bit so you need to keep an eye out for a sale. But when it comes to real usability as a document creation tool, to me, the tip of the hat goes to Notebooks for iPad. Even though it doesn’t support formatting, its use of Dropbox and simplicity in using folders makes it easier to use and thus a slightly better app. Plus, the price of Notebooks is consistently less. If you do a lot of writing, both of these apps will serve you well. However, if you go back and forth between the iPad and a desktop, the convenience of Notebooks sync function could be to your advantage.

Both apps are really very good and each offers a very nice writing environment. If you need to format your documents while on the go, then sadly Notebooks won’t do you much good. However, if you’re like me and you need a tool that allows you to write down ideas and even full articles while you’re away from a desktop computer and then sync it all back when you’re done, then Notebooks has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Truth be told, I spend more time in Notebooks than I do in Quickoffice.

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