By: POLARIS OFFICE Corp.
Conducting various operations on a document like editing, publishing, or storing them, can be quite draining for many of us. Especially for the office peeps, they need to go through the same set of procedures every day, be it spreadsheets, word files, presentations, or anything similar.
For all that, we often use a set of different tools compiled together into one set, typically known as Office Suites. Office suites not only allow us to edit essential documents, but also bear many other features like collaboration, cloud storage, publishing documents, and almost every office related task.
Searching for one such tool, we have landed here. One such suite, Polaris Office, has been continuously hitting the market with its unique setup and features.
Coming from Seoul, South Korea, this tool has managed to get a hold over lots of subscriptions. When it comes to pricing, it is one of the most cheapest Office Suite we have seen so far.
Well, not only pricing, but we are also going to review other features that Polaris Office is gifted with. They are formed under the parent company Infraware. Formed in 1997, with fierce competition from the popular office products, they have emerged to be in the top-lists from an underdog.
In this evaluation, Polaris Office is going to be tested to its fullest. Since there are several versions of the product, we will be reviewing the desktop service of its suite. Another version, especially the cloud version has almost similar setup like in the desktop version.
Moving on, let’s find out what we get after unboxing this suite.
Initial steps to set up things in an office suite include installing it, usually followed by product activation. However, Polaris Office doesn’t seem to advertise a trial version on their website.
You will have to download their office suite first. After that, the setup will ask for login credentials. Create a new account if don’t have any. Once done, it will automatically activate the 7-day trial version after your registered email is verified.
The office suite here seems like a desktop version of their cloud interface. You will see the details of your account, central panel with preset templates, and then folders like My Docs, Shared Docs, Starred Docs, etc. here.
One thing which may pinch the free users, is that this interface will have some ads. Sometimes, these ads can be of third-party, but most of the time, they are related to Polaris Office itself. It can be deemed frustrating for some, but they are manageable.
We can’t expect much in the free version though. The central portion contains 5 main document types supported by the Polaris Office. This includes regular ones like Doc Files, Spreadsheets, Presentations, ODT Files, And Templates.
From there, we can pick a single file and start accessing its features. In the template section, we are given several popular themes used in these office suites like invitations, reports, resumes, events, etc. in the doc files, whereas calendars, attendance sheets, invoices, sales data, etc. for spreadsheets.
All of these themes are elementary in day to day office use. There are no unusual or out of the box themes here. We can however benefit more if they add more varied stock in it.
Overall, if you are familiar with any office suite, be it MS Office, WPS Office, OpenOffice, etc., you will be able to navigate this section easily. Now, the central part is to assess internal features in the document editor, compared to bigger players in the market.
This is all you can get to know in the first interaction with the tool. Later on, it will depend highly on the things a user focuses on. Even personal experience level in document editing may reveal what features are present/absent in their setup.
And so, we begin with the most elementary function of an Office Suite, i.e., document/word editor.
The first and foremost function of most office suites was a universal document editor. Unlike other office products, this doc editor is straightforward.
Just like notepad, we can add text in it. The main difference separating it with a regular text editor is its ability to add formatting to the written texts. Using this formatting, we can give new shape, size, style, color, spacing, and many such detailed effects to the texts we wrote earlier in simple notepad.
Now, in Polaris Office, use the + sign to add new documents. For now, pick the docx file. This is the usual word file format. The new setup for editing this word file will now be opened.
To be honest, there is nothing much remarkable here. This is the type of software category where individual functions, and even the look of every other office suite will be identical.
Here too, we get another office suite type UI. There are some minor alterations, and few features added here and there. Otherwise, regular folks won't even notice the difference if they switch.
Now, the entire setup is apportioned in several sections. These include traditional word-file features as in a Title Bar, Feature Ribbon, Status Bar, Ruler, Zoom In/Out Button, and so on.
Even the right-click interface we get after selecting a word is identical. Unlike MS Word, the quick access toolbar is not on the top title bar. Instead, they have given it below the featured ribbon, which makes it easier to access.
Not only that, they are several discrete items in this quick access toolbar. You can directly input Symbols, Graphs, Comments, Shapes, Clip-Arts, Tables, Images, Etc. This helps in accessing common tools rapidly.
Talking of the key features, the opening tab, i.e., Home Tab, is very similar to other word editors. It has all the regular font formatting choices like font size, type, justify colors, bullets, and so on.
There is also a section to change the headings of texts. Unlike other suites, we cannot edit these heading formats. This was supposed to be an essential thing. Polaris Office needs to add the modify option for these heading styles.
Apart from that, there was no interface over the main page to show the total words and characters written. There was one added option to alter the personal info of a document, though.
In the Insert Tab, it was ditto similar. So, there was no unique point in it. However, it lacked adding media files into the document. This was available in another doc editor.
The next section, Design Tab, was also analogous. Only difference was that, some suites had much better themes. Also, in our testing, some of the themes were not being applied to the document, which resolved once we reinstalled the app.
This was a UI bug, and we reported it. The Layout Tab also had various options to alter layout of a given page, with options to alter the Margins, Size, Columns, Breaks, Alignments, etc.
In the References Tab, Polaris Office did not have selections for adding Citations, Bibliography, Index, Table Of Authorities, And Smart Lookup Feature. The smart lookup feature is used for searching items on the Internet directly.
In the Review Tab, it lacked the Translate Feature, Read Aloud, Thesaurus, and Document Comparisons. Some of these are advantageous features, and so, Polaris Office must work on including them in future updates.
Lastly, they had an additional segment, i.e., Pen Tab. In this, operators can access things like highlighter, pen, ruler, eraser, and lasso. We can change the color and width of a selected doodle in each of these tools.
Except for the highlighter, we had used other tools for the first time in a word editor. Another thing we noticed in this UI, was lack of help text. In many software, if we hover the mouse over a feature, we get a brief intro on what the selected function will do.
Polaris Office did not utilize this. Other than that, we can only save the files in three formats, i.e., Word, Pdf, And Odt. This has to be extended to HTML files, XPS files, RTF, XML files, etc.
Overall, after riding through its interface, it is clear that it is made for quick as well as intensive editing. Polaris Office had kept things very elementary. There were only a few extra add-ons needed to make it complete.
Nonetheless, most doc editors are like this only. However, they can try expanding the stock with unique features. Also, we need more formats in the Save As option. The heading style needs to be modifiable too.
So then, let us now move to another feature of this office suite.
Now we head on for the next big shot, i.e., Presentation Maker. It is going to be a bit more fun exploring this setup. As we have already tested, the difference in Polaris and other office suite’s UI is almost negligible.
This applies to the setup in the presentation maker too. Like regular presentation maker, they have given similar tabs viz., Home, Insert, Design, Transition, Animations, Slideshows, Review, View, and Pen.
All of them are nearly analogous in all tools, except for a few choices. They have followed a consistent pattern as before and assigned the quick access toolbar below the feature tabs.
In this toolbar, appropriate selections related to PPT files are given. These are for adding tables, images, videos, graphs, shapes, running slideshows, and so on.
In the Home Tab, like other suites, i.e., MS PowerPoint, ONLYOFFICE, OpenOffice, etc., the number and type of choices are fixed. There are differences in the shape selectors only. The Slide Layout is inadequate though.
But then, like other presentation makers, we can directly copy a slide from other programs too. Keep in mind that the copied slide will be like a full screenshot. Individual elements will not be editable in the copied slide.
For that reason, if you like a layout in other program, simply copy and rearrange it into the slide. Then manually add desired elements in it. The options in the Insert Tab are feasible. This time, we get a video option here. Overall, it was on par with other presentation makers in various office suites.
Here, the number of themes for slides is very middling. Only a handful of them are present, and that too without much customization. We can browse through tons of themes online in MS Word, WPS Office, etc., which was not possible in here. We hope Polaris adds more templates and themes in the presentation maker.
After that, Polaris Office has given the Slide Transitions and Animation effects. Both of them are not accessible in the trial version.
Regardless, we can add the transition effects here, along with the time duration, on click/after click trigger, and so on. And after testing them, we found it compelling.
Similarly, we can add animation effects to specific items like images, texts, objects, etc. After that, the settings in Slideshow, Review, and View Tab were consistent. The only new thing was the Pen Tab that we discussed earlier in the Polaris writer.
There was one more separate tab given by Polaris here. This tab appeared only when you selected an image. It is used to edit the properties of the designated image.
In this tab, we had some varied options like Image Alignments, Color Correction, Artistic Effects, Compress Images, Change/Reset Images.
There were few more things like frame effects, picture effects like 3D, embossing, shadow, reflection, etc. We can also crop and alter the aspect ratio of images from here.
MS Word, WPS Office, etc. also gives all of these. Only difference is that there is no separate tab given for it, in those suites. This made it tougher to find them in other suites.
The sad part with this image editor in Polaris was not its effects, but their inability to be applied on the images. This means that the effects were not working many time. We didn’t see any warning messages in it.
The image will just vanish if we used specific effects. This can probably be a bug, which we reported to the support team.
Overall, the presentation features were quite decent. It performed better than many presentation makers in other office suites like ONLYOFFICE, LibreOffice, etc. But, it is still needs more themes/templates compared to MS Word, WPS Office, Prezi, Adobe Presenter, etc.
Last module in our review is the Spreadsheet Maker. You might be familiar with MS Excel, one of the most comprehensive tools to work with spreadsheets.
Similar to that, we have a spreadsheet maker in Polaris Office too. To access that, use the Add New File button in the main Polaris Office interface.
From there, pick Create New Sheets. This will open the Polaris Sheets. Like always, the streak of déjà vu continues. Designed closely to MS Excel, this setup is very novice to work with.
In the first section itself, we noticed that both programs are a mirror replica. Polaris Sheets comprised a few more options in the toolbars, modified as per the spreadsheet theme.
Going through all of it, it is clear that regular excel users won’t even feel a pinch if we are to switch both programs. From the Insert Tab, we can incorporate a variety of items into the sheets.
It includes items from a simple table to images, screenshots, clip-arts, smart shapes, and even data charts like column, bar, stock charts, surfaces, radars, etc.
These are also functional in MS excel, but the only difference is that Polaris Office has put them in a much better UI format. Some of these charts are hidden under various options inside the excel menu, which may be hard to find.
Then, the settings in the Page Tab were identical. Following this section, there is a crucial setup handy in every spreadsheet tool.
This section is the Formula Tab. With such a tab, we are able to insert formulas into our sheets and do complex computation in sales, analytics, or any other mathematical calculations required in sheets.
Here, except the auditing options, all the formulas are consistent. In the Data Tab, data forecasting and What-If analysis were lacking in the Polaris Office setup.
Also, options to import data from other online sources, online database sites, ODBC & OLEDB files, etc. are missing. Instead of that, we can use the Connection Button for linking other offline sheets. We can connect multiple sheets in this way.
But then, Polaris Office needs to add linking/import options from other accessible sources, and programs. Lastly, most options were similar in the Review and View Tab.
Overall, it was a good experience making office budgets, time-tables, sales sheets, etc. in it. There were hardly any issues encountered with the features present in it.
Once more thing that pinged us again was the no help text over a feature in various tabs. It seems like they haven’t used this feature in any of the office programs.
This may sound silly, but it’s a part of useful UI. They can also include a help icon in each of the feature ribbon, and display their function details in the setup itself.
Concluding to the core three setups of this suite, we’d say they have done a reasonable job in accommodating as many functions as possible.
But, to outmaneuver bigger fishes like MS Office, WPS Office, etc., they need to increase the stock of their templates and unique functions in all three office programs. Besides that, you can effortlessly use these three features of their office suite to perform regular documentation.
Moving on to the closing sections in Polaris Suite, we are now left with the cloud interface and its features. Since their office suite has a cloud interface too, a short review is enough.
As we have seen so far, with this cloud interface of Polaris Office suite, or as they write it, Polaris Office Home can benefit us with variety of office functionalities.
One of them is Direct Cloud Sync. While saving files in any of the above programs, we are prompted if we want it stored in the local storage, or on the cloud server. We can also put a file in the favorite folder with the star button on the title bar. These files can be accessed in the folder Starred Docs, even in the browser-based interface.
In case you delete any files accidentally, they have a separate trash folder to recover it, similar to the recycle bin in Windows. We can also sync with the other two cloud storage, i.e. Google Drive and Dropbox. However, more options were available in ONLYOFFICE, LibreOffice, etc. with added cloud storage like OneDrive, Box, SharePoint, etc.
We can also connect it to our mobile and continue editing our document on the go. There is also a chat feature in their office suite. The sharing options can be made more secure if we can add password protection in the advanced sharing settings.
Overall, we did not find anything too thrilling here. Now, there were a couple of things missing in it. These were project management, calendar, blogs, internal pages, etc.
These were all rare features, which were not present even in bigger suites like WPS Office, MS Word, LibreOffice, etc. However, all of these are given in the cloud interface of ONLYOFFICE.
Therefore, these features have lesser expectations to be included here. Also, most of these mentioned features are useful only in the cloud interface/version of the office suite, and so their priority may not be that high among users.
For now, this concludes the Polaris Office’s features, which were satisfying in our view. Let us now drive to a conclusion.
Exploring every nook and corner of Polaris Office 2017, we are now set to propose our final verdict. The first thing that’ll rock your mind is its UI’s resemblance to other office suites.
This isn’t any kind of copy acquisition, but merely a healthy comparison. Ideally, every other office program you run, will have a common set of features to edit document files. The main difference lies in small UI improvements besides these traditional options.
As we had mentioned before, most of the feature were up to the task. A few of them which are under our wish-list are already mentioned above in their respective sections. Like MS Word or Android’s auto-correct, the auto-correct here has some chances of improvement.
We can always add spelling issues separately though. Some critical sub-features were missing in the cloud setup, which we already emphasized. Except that, Polaris Office has done a substantial job by adding every possible feature in their program.
When it comes to pricing, it is one the cheapest Office Suite among the paid ones. If they can improve their features a bit more, it can become a top product.
Now, if you ask for recommendations, our answers are bit diverse. If you are looking for a cheaper version of MS Office, Polaris Office is definitely a workable option. There may be some skepticism here, but since we have used it, we can assure that it has got many excellent features, and is a stable office suite.