With the new official BlackBerry Bluetooth keyboard coming out soon, there is now more focus on the PlayBook’s productivity apps. Naturally, we’re talking about the Docs to Go suite, the PlayBook’s native offering for viewing, editing and creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

This bundled piece of software was updated with the release of OS 2.0 to include a significant number of new features for PowerPoint files, Word files, and Excel files.

For the Docs to Go application, you can now create bullets and numbered lists. For the PowerPoint application, we have additional support for charts, text editing and show/hide slides during a presentation. For the Excel application, you can now edit and view embedded charts, use a formula wizard for the most common formulae, and the ability to copy, paste and resize cells.

That’s not all either. The Docs to Go suite now has Bluetooth keyboard support, find and replace functionality for Word and Excel files, support for Blackberry balance, and support for using a Blackberry smartphone as a remote.

You do have numerous formatting options in the Word to Go app. You can make all kinds of lists, change the highlighting and font color, add indents, pinch-to-zoom, undo things, change the justification, do a word count and use all sorts of other features. The pinch-to-zoom works, even though it’s a bit slow. It will even “auto-save” your files just in case you close the app by accident.

But let’s talk about what you can’t do with it. You can’t embed pictures (nor can you see any pictures already in a Word file). You can’t create two columns of text, or draw any boxes, or use Greek letters, or create headers, or change the page orientation, or add a watermark, or the page color. But that’s not bad at all! I don’t think too many people will lose sleep over a few of these omission, especially when it’s free. It’s got all the bare bones features that you’ll need in a documents suite.

In the Excel to Go app, you’re on a little tighter leash. You can set up formulae, edit cells, do basic formatting, search for words/numbers, and….that’s about it. But it does the job well. If you’re looking for text formatting, the Word to Go app will be to your liking. It’s pretty much only good for viewing spreadsheets and basic spreadsheet editing. But then again, the vast majority of people shouldn’t need more than that. If anything, not being able to create a chart or graph is a little depressing, but at least you can view one now.

In the PowerPoint to Go app, you’re limited to viewing PowerPoint presentations and editing text. Exciting, isn’t it?
Overall, this is a huge update to productivity, for sure. But then again, it’s not exactly demolishing the competition. What may tip the scale in the PlayBook’s favor is that the Docs to Go is free. Nobody wants to pay extra for a decent document suite on a productivity tablet, and RIM knows that. Yet, if there is a better document suite out there on another platform, people will pay for it. At the end of the day, Docs to Go does work well, is solid as a rock, and supports all the newest formats.


But I can’t stop thinking that although enjoying yourself is hard enough when you’re working, it’s quite a different ball game if you’re using one hand to hold the tablet, or typing on a touchscreen keyboard taking up half the screen you’re typing on. With the new physical Bluetooth keyboard accessory, this document suite might even become something that you actually won’t mind using.