iPad apps

So, I'm brand new to the world of the iPad.  I had been looking at replacing my trusty HP laptop computer before this summer and was wondering if this was the time to switch to a tablet.  I knew I'd like the portability and light weight of a tablet.  My concern was that I wouldn't be able to do all the things I can do on my laptop with the iPad, with two main concerns:
  1. Could I open, edit, and fully interact with all the Microsoft Word and Excel (and to a lesser degree, Powerpoint) files that I use on a daily basis?
  2. Could I continue to use Dropbox to sync these files between multiple computers (work, hope, laptop/tablet) in the way that has become so very useful to me.
So it turned out I had a birthday a few weeks ago, and grandparents and immediate family conspired to gift me with a new iPad.  (And middle daughter is gunning for the old laptop.)  So suddenly the game is on to see if this thing can replace a full-fledged laptop. I was told that Apple has an office suite called iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) and that it covered the Word, Excel, PowerPoint bases and then some in that "Apple way."  Note that I was an original Mac-user; they just lost me in the late 90s when Mac prices soared and no one in my new work community used them at all.  So, I didn't re-enter until 2009 with the Touch (aka "mini-iPad"). What Do I Think of Pages? meh.  I am a Word power-user.  If all you want to do is type some text and insert a picture and watch the sweet way Pages flows text around it, ok.  But, I quickly found that there was much I was used to doing that it wouldn't do.  (Not to mention, very few of the same fonts.)  I can see using it to knock out a quick letter, but I'm going to want something that matches my formatting on the PC.  And most annoying, there seem to be no keyboard shortcuts.  I'm used to applying bold, italic, and underlining at speed while I type, and in Pages I have to stop and go to the formatting menu.  (Maybe I'm missing something, but I've Googled and Googled and can't find how to use shortcuts.) The Big One: Can't sync my docs! The biggest disappointment was not being able to easily sync my documents in Dropbox.  First-world problem to be sure, but I have become used to (for example) typing half a paragraph of something at work, hitting save, and opening it to that same place when I get home... synced between computers by Dropbox.  It's VERY convenient.  I read up on iCloud, but it doesn't work between Mac and PC, nor does it push the doc down to the local level.  The best I could do without some WebDAV trickery was to e-mail a Pages doc to myself, then open the attachment "...in Dropbox" in order to save it there where my PC would sync with it. Lest I come across as whining, let me say that I love the iPad so much that I was fully prepared to deal with it and hope that some 'fix' would eventually come out. Solution: QuickOffice Then, continuing to Google and read forums, I decided to try QuickOffice Pro HD, an app that claimed to more closely mimic Word, Excel, and PowerPoint... AND it claimed to integrate with Dropbox (and a number of other cloud storage sites). It's pricey for an app - $19.95.  But, boy is it worth it!  It not only integrates, it does exactly what I wanted.  You can actually connect to multiple cloud sites at once (I use Dropbox, GoogleDocs, Box; and it has 4-5 others)... and they all appear like folders on a hard drive.  You can open directly from there; edit in QuickOffice; and SAVE back over or to the clouds.  And QuickOffice uses common system fonts, including Cambria and Calibri (which is what we've been using as our default at work). QuickOffice is compatible with Word and Excel through the 2010 versions and PowerPoint through the 2003 version.  It also offers 5-6 share sites in addition to the cloud storage sites.  It ALSO saves to PDF!  I highly recommend it for iPad users, especially if you are trying to work with PCs and the clouds.