Turn your iPhone into a home office

A round-up of our productivity picks for mobile iPhone and iPod Touch workers, and an iPhone app face-off that pits Quickoffice against Documents To Go.

Up until last week, Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite was the most sophisticated Microsoft document reader and editor in the App Store. When Documents To Go came out (with and without support for Microsoft Exchange attachments,) some of you asked for a head-to-head comparison.

We'll see your request and raise it to a collection of business applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch that can help keep you productive at home or on the road.

Quickoffice versus Documents To Go

The starkest differences between Quickoffice Mobile Suite and Documents To Go boil down to price, file support, and interface. Both can view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDFs, and iWork documents. They are also able to transfer files via a USB drive hookup or through pairing over a Wi-Fi network.

In terms of image quality, both had commendably clear and faithful rendering of images and text. Both instances of Documents To Go are less expensive (at the time of writing) than Quickoffice; about $5 and $10 versus Quickoffice's Mobile Suite at $20. However, Documents To Go can only edit and create Word docs. Quickoffice can generate and edit Word and Excel files.

Quickoffice iPhone app
Editing tools are more easily accessible in Quickoffice. (Credit: CNET/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt)

The Word-only editing limitation brings the standard Documents To Go app closer to the standalone Quickword product (iTunes link), also about $5 now that it's on sale (it's been dropped down from $13.) Quickoffice cannot create or edit Word or Excel 2007 files at present, but Documents To Go does support Word 2007 documents.

In terms of layout and usability, Quickoffice's menu systems are slightly easier to access and use than those on Documents To Go. However, Documents To Go's more premium app opens the door to reading attachments sent over Microsoft Exchange. It's got a trickier setup process than we'd like, but once that's been cleared away, the actual reading and saving are smooth.

For now, choosing the better of the two apps for your needs is a simple calculation. Those who actively work with Excel documents should stick with Quickoffice at this time. Those who rely more on reading e-mail attachments in their full glory (and especially editing the attached Word docs) should head for the premium version of Documents To Go. The set that mostly needs access to Word documents but rarely works with spreadsheets should let economic considerations guide them to the $5 version of Documents To Go.

However, since both applications have ambitious development schedules and strategies, the value proposition of each could rapidly change by the version number. We'll be keeping an eye on these as they continue to take their turns at bat.

See which applications made our top productivity picks for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Corrected on June 26, 2009 at 2:45 p.m. PT: Documents To Go can edit and create Word 2007 documents.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.