Review: Tablet Programs Fill In Gap, Won't Replace

BREE FOWLER

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ There's nothing I like more than getting some writing done at my favorite neighborhood coffeehouse. It's relaxing, I'm more productive and the place makes a great cappuccino.

But after I bought my iPad about a year ago, I didn't want to go back to schlepping around my laptop, which suddenly seemed so heavy and clunky by comparison.

We all know that tablets are great for watching online videos of frolicking kittens, updating your Facebook status and checking email. But can they really substitute for a laptop when it comes to doing actual work?

To find out, I downloaded software for using word processing and spreadsheets on mobile devices. One works with just iPhones and iPads, while another works with devices running Google's Android system as well. I also test drove an upcoming update to Microsoft Office, one designed to seamlessly link work on PCs, tablets and smartphones.

All of the programs store and access files over the Internet rather than the individual devices. That approach can be pretty handy once you get the hang of it.

Unfortunately, the programs also all involve, well, typing on a tablet. That can be downright painful after a while.

Here's my experience with the three programs:

â¿¿ Quickoffice

This program is designed to make Apple and Android mobile devices compatible with Office even if the software isn't installed on them. While Microsoft does have a Web-based application that can be accessed on an iPad, it doesn't make a downloadable app for the device yet. Google Inc. bought Quickoffice this summer as part of its attempts to siphon sales away from Microsoft Corp.

The $20 app includes programs similar to Microsoft's Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets and PowerPoint for presentations. But the programs have some shortcomings and don't mesh perfectly with the Microsoft versions.

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