SoftMaker Office 2010 for Windows Mobile offers users of Windows smartphones the ability to view and edit files in Microsoft Office format, and has editing capabilities matching desktop suites. While technically very impressive, its usability varies widely between different Windows Mobile devices; stylus-driven models are the best choice if you want to actually edit files, while the suite is very tricky to use on multi-touch screens.
Features comparable with desktop app suites; compatible with Microsoft Office file formats.
Display very cramped on some devices; cannot rotate display to use in landscape format
SoftMaker Office 2010 for Windows Mobile is a full-featured application suite for Microsoft's smartphone platform that offers capabilities equivalent to those of a desktop suite. However, while technically impressive, usability is greatly constrained by the very devices for which it is designed.
Available since the beginning of July, SoftMaker Office 2010 for Windows Mobile (SoftMaker Mobile) consists of three applications that can be installed individually. TextMaker is the word processor, PlanMaker the spreadsheet and the prosaically named SoftMaker Presentations completes the suite.
Each application has features more in line with those you would expect on a desktop suite than the cut-down mobile versions that ship with Windows Mobile itself.
For example, TextMaker lets you insert tables, while PlanMaker supports charts and can import from dBase files, while SoftMaker Presentations not only lets you show PowerPoint presentations complete with transitions and other effects, but lets you edit the slides.
We found that the user experience with SoftMaker Mobile will vary greatly depending on the device being used. Ironically, it seems to work better on older devices with a resistive touch screen driven by a stylus, rather than newer handsets with multi-touch screens, largely because a stylus allows greater precision when selecting menus, buttons or document content than a finger-driven capacitive screen.
We tested the suite with HTC's HD mini, a new handset running Windows Mobile 6.5, and Palm's Treo Pro, a device from 2008 running Windows Mobile 6.1. However, it will run on any touch-screen handset right back to those based on Windows Mobile 2003 SE.
While both handsets ran the applications at an adequate speed, the suite was much more usable on the Treo Pro than the HD mini. It was not simply due to the Treo's having a stylus; on the HD mini, the menus and controls seemed to be squashed together, making it extremely difficult to select the correct one, even with this reviewer's relatively slender fingers.
The on-screen soft keyboard of the HD mini also largely obscured the entire screen, whereas the Treo Pro has Qwerty keys for easy editing.
Some menus and dialogue boxes also extended beyond the edges of the screen on the HD mini, making it impossible to select some of the options. These issues could possibly relate to the handset's unusual (for Windows Mobile) screen resolution of 320 x 480.
While we were able to use the applications on both handsets, users may find that the suite is realistically only suitable for viewing documents on some Windows Mobile devices such as the HD mini, while on others (like the Treo Pro), editing or document creation is feasible.