ThinkFree recently supplied me with a U3 pendrive in order to look at their product. Although I haven’t completed a full evaluation I thought I’d post my initial thoughts. Thinkfree are still open to testers.
The aim of the ThinkFree office suite is to give you both an online document sharing / editing experience and with this product a portable and personal experience. They also claim to be closest to give the best Microsoft Office 2003 functionality available.
The product includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool. It launches quickly and opens into an interface which looks uncannily like Microsoft Office 2003.
The functionality and ease of use is excellent and there are nice features like save to PDF which aren’t standard in the office suite.
Where products of this nature come into their own is offering a rich experience away from your normal computer. My pen drive assists me with my enterprise work using the following:
- Office document editing with ThinkFree and OpenOffice
- Email access (Notes 7.0.2 for USB)
- IM access (Sametime in Notes 7.0.2)
- Browsing with Firefox
From a personal perspective U3 offers:
- IM through Trillian
- Voice with Skype
- for a full list see here
- The Memorex U3 startup places a splash screen over my work while it loads (this doesn’t happen with my SanDisk U3 pendrive).
- I’ve opened some fairly complex documents and only saw some minor errors in rendering some graphics. I haven’t tested fully so can’t comment on whether changes to graphics would impact on the look and feel of the document when returned to a traditional office experience.
Who would use this?
Now this is where I struggle a little. The only real cases I can think of for enterprises using pen drives would be:
- As an emergency reserve for traveling workers just in case of hardware failure.
- To allow workers forced to leave there normal machines during business continuity events and use generic build machines.
- When travel security restrictions impact laptop movement (although that would possible also include pen drives).
Initial thoughts for me?
I’ll use it at times when needed, but they are likely to be very few and far between. It’ll be a good small tool to carry round for use when the unexpected happens (eg. the out of the blue call when I’m at my parents and miles from my laptop but need to login and have access to their computer). I wonder what the roadmap is for ThinkFree in terms of Office 2007 functionality if Microsoft Office is their main target.
I will post again when I have had more time to assess the product.