iPad & .doc file viewing and editing

A client upgraded to an iPad2 and wanted recommendations for the best iPad application for viewing and editing .doc/.docx files on her new tablet. Basic .doc/.docx viewing is built into the iOS system, but she needed more advanced editing capabilities, including the use of Track Changes. Advanced .doc/.docx editing is still in its nascent phase–the only way (to my knowledge, please comment if you know otherwise!) to edit MS Office documents on the iPad with Track Changes capabilities are via two cloud-based MS Office implementations. Here’s a rundown of the best MS Office suites for iPad, both local apps and cloud-based solutions:


1.  CloudOn is a good cloud-based MS Office implementation that allows for Track Changes. It involves a cloud account and an iPad app. It’s a little cumbersome with the required file uploading, etc, and you need to be connected to internet (wifi or 3G). They are currently not accepting new account, but when they do, it will be a good solution if you need advanced editing capabilities. Sign up here to be put on the wait-list for a new account. And download the app from the Apple iTunes AppStore here. [Thanks to Josh Barrett at TabletLegal for the reference to CloudOn.]

2.  OnLive Desktop. This could be the answer, though it’s also a little cumbersome, and you need to be connected to the internet (wifi or 3G). Download the app from the Apple iTunes AppStore here.
3. DocumentsToGo Premium
DTGP allows you to view comments (and possibly view tracked changes as well? anyone?), but not create edits with Track Changes. It’s unclear how well it plays with DropBox. I believe you will be able to go to a document in DropBox and choose “Open In” and be able to import it into DocumentsToGo, but after you modify it and save it, it will then be housed in the DocumentsToGo file system, which you will then have to fiddle with either to sync to your desktop or to get back to DropBox. I haven’t been able to test this functionality yet. But, as it stands, DTGP is the best stand-alone non-cloud solution for viewing and editing MS Word documents on the iPad — viewing comments and footnotes included. Download here.
2. QuickOffice Pro HD
QuickOffice Pro HD offers a more user-friendly interface than DTGP–docs are easier to navigate within, editing is more natural, external keyboard support is better, etc, but it doesn’t do well on the advanced editing. QuickOffice Pro HD cannot deal with Track Changes, and comments and footnotes are a question. This could be a deciding factor. Download here.
3. Pages for iPad
Pages has one of the best interfaces of the group. This is not surprising, as it is Apple’s own word processor, and it’s iPad implementation is smooth and intuitive, as all native Apple apps are. It does NOT support Track Changes, and comments and footnotes from a .doc document are a question. About Track Changes support, users report that Pages for iPad accepts all changes in a document when you import that document into Page for iPad.  Pages documents can be synced with iCloud’s “Documents in the Cloud” sync service, so a document you edit on your iPad will also show up edited on your computer automatically. DropBox functionality is a question. Download here.
4. None of The Above. This is perhaps the best option: use DropBox reader for basic viewing of .doc documents, and transition to .txt or .rtf or PDF document formats for iPad editing. Click on the app name for the download link.
For PDFs, consider: 
 4c. iBooks 
For text editing, try:
4d. PlainTextexcellent DropBox syncing, very simple and straightforward interface. Free with ads, which can be turned off for $1.99.
4e. SimpleNotenice collaboration features, still very simple and easy to use, no DropBox file storage, need to syncronize through the web. In-browser editor is good and there are many desktop applications that sync to SimpleNote. Free, with upgrade option.
Please reply with comments about these apps and how they’ve worked for you!