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Zoho occupies a middle ground between Google Docs and ThinkFree. The suite offers more features than Google and links to a much larger set of apps that cover almost every office need—at press time www.zoho.com boasted 17 online apps covering productivity, collaboration, and business. But Zoho’s Writer, Sheet, and Show apps don’t quite reach ThinkFree’s level of detail and compatibility with Microsoft Office.
Our test Word document imported into Zoho Writer, but neither the image nor the table lined up properly.
Zoho Writer’s appearance is pagelike: A ruler at the top gives some indication of margins, but they’re notated as percentages rather than inches. Basic document layout is handled from the Page Setup option in the menubar, while the two-row toolbar offers the common paragraph-level formatting options, including page breaks, footnotes, and endnotes.
With 19 fonts and the usual size options, Zoho Writer offers sufficient variety for most needs. As with Google, Writer shows its ancestry, with the character and paragraph formatting options resembling those of an HTML text editor. You can insert images and tables but are limited when it comes to positioning them. The spell-check implementation mirrors that of Google Docs: Each questionable word is underlined, and a click on the link reveals a window with suggested corrections. A thesaurus—Zoho Writer is the only app to offer one—is activated with a right-click on the selected word.
All Zoho apps feature a collapsible bar on the left that gives easy access to other documents in each app.
Zoho Sheet provides a standard spreadsheet interface. The test spreadsheet we imported displayed without a hitch, with the exception of one chart type that wasn’t available. The multiple sheets in our test Excel workbook appeared at the bottom of the Zoho screen as tabs. Copying and linking from one sheet to another was straightforward too. Zoho Sheet includes many chart types, but each has limited editing options. As in Google Docs, category and data columns cannot be selected separately, so make sure the data you want to use is adjacent to the category column.
Zoho Show can import images from your Flickr and Picasa accounts. Access to Web services is not yet well implemented in all apps, but is likely to improve in the future.
Zoho Show offers little that’s new or surprising in terms of presentation software. We weren’t impressed by many of the 50-plus available themes, but we did appreciate the large selection of clip art and symbols. Within each theme, the slide layout options were limited but covered the basics. One exceptional feature was the link to Flickr and Picasa, which allowed us to insert images easily.Zoho comes closest to hitting the sweet spot for online apps, offering a good balance between features, ease of use, and responsiveness. The availability of a complete set of other business-savvy software—including apps for note-taking, invoicing, managing contacts, creating wikis, planning projects, and lots more—is an added bonus.