TrialPad – Dedicated Presentation App for the iPad

The recently released TrialPad for iPad is a good start on what trial presentation for the iPad can be, but doesn’t yet meet expectations associated with its high price.

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do …

At its heart, TrialPad is a PDF viewer and organization tool. There are many PDF tools for the iPad, including iAnnotate. Both TrialPad and iAnnotate allow presentation of a PDF through a projector. Both TrialPad and iAnnotate allow markups to be displayed on the screen. Both TrialPad and iAnnotate allow the user to pinch-to-zoom the onscreen document. Both TrialPad and iAnnotate allow the presentation screen to be turned on and off.

iAnnotate, however, has quite a few more tricks than TrialPad. iAnnotate will search through an entire PDF file or group of files for any word. TrialPad only searches the ‘name’ of a document.

iAnnotate will pull in documents from Dropbox. Trial pad relies on the ‘seven easy steps’ kludge iTunes file transfer feature. The developers note that Dropbox support is ‘in the works.’

iAnnotate allows a ‘tabbed’ interface wherein you can project an exhibit or impeachment testimony while privately viewing your direct/cross examination outline on the iPad. TrialPad eschews tabs limiting the display to a single item. iAnnotate includes a large number of built in ‘stamps,’ such as arrows and callouts, and allows you to pick different highlighter and annotation colors. TrialPad sticks to a red pen and yellow highlighter.

TrialPad costs $89. iAnnotate costs $9.99.

Not A Replacement for Sanction, Trial Director etc.

Responding to these criticisms the developers claim that, rather than iAnnotate, a “fair comparison would be TrialPad against full featured desktop presentation software such as Sanction or TrialDirector.” Not entirely accurate. First, TrialPad has nowhere near the features of dedicated laptop trial presentation software. Second, by that standard, we could also compare iAnnotate against dedicated laptop presentation software. TrialPad would still lose in that comparison.

A Little Bit Buggy

TrialPad is also still very much a 1.0 release. TrialPad can annotate a document on the iPad while the projector remains blanked. During testing, the annotation appeared on the projector despite the screen being blanked. Additionally, PDFs sometimes appeared extremely pixelated on the iPad while rendering crisply on a projector. This made it very difficult to annotate with any degree of precision.

A Few Nice Standout Features

There are some nice aspects to TrialPad. First, it is fairly straightforward and easy to use, once one gets beyond the iTunes sync. Once loaded, it could be handed to a lawyer who lacks much technical know how and they could use it without difficulty. Second, TrialPad allows an exhibit or single page of an exhibit to be marked up ‘saved’ for later use. This feature, with nothing comparable in iAnnotate, could be very handy for having witnesses markup a document using the annotation tools, then saving it as a separate exhibit to be admitted later. Finally, TrialPad also allows the user to rotate an image on the iPad itself, another feature unavailable in iAnnotate. If, for some reason, an image were scanned or loaded incorrectly, simply tapping the rotate button would bring it into the correct alignment for presentation.
Final Verdict

Simply put, by setting the price at a steep $89 the developers ignore the Apps ecosystem and economy. Not even Omni Group charge more than $39 for their highly polished, feature rich iPad app OmniFocus which syncs to the iPad without any iTunes kludge needed. Further, Filemaker’s Bento is only $9.99, Pages, Numbers and Keynote are also only $9.99. In short, TrialPad is a solid start and a potential winner, but in the end offers too little for too much money.

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27 Responses to TrialPad – Dedicated Presentation App for the iPad

  1. Ian says:

    Greetings! My name is Ian and I’m an official representative of Lit Software, the developers of TrialPad. Thank you for your candid review and insight. We will certainly take your feedback into consideration in our ongoing development. There are a few things I’d like to point out to you and your readers.

    Regarding our search feature, most electronic documents used in litigation are scanned versions of the originals. Therefore during the scanning process they become images of the documents. Without going to the trouble or expense of optical character recognition (OCR), apps cannot search the text in imaged documents, but we wanted to include the ability to search for names of files rather than nothing.

    As you mentioned in your review, Dropbox integration is currently in development. However, in addition to Apple’s file transfer through iTunes (which I agree is a kludge), users can also very easily import documents from an attachment to an email.

    Also, TrialPad does allow you to present one document while privately viewing another, whether it is your direct/cross examination notes or another document you want to pre-annotate and prepare to display. Additionally, in our development process we purposely did not include a multitude of stamp tools and colors, and concentrated on the core tools used most of the time (Highlight and Pen) as well as incorporating a user requested Redact tool.

    We’ve also conducted aggressive third-party testing and these users did not experience the “bugs” you cited. We offer assistance to all our customers in working through any issues they may have, as TrialPad is backed not only by video tutorials (http://www.trialpad.com/howitworks.php) but also ongoing customer support (support@trialpad.com).

    What sets TrialPad apart from the other apps you mentioned, is that it was not designed for the general consumer, but was made specifically as an easy to use presentation tool for litigators. Our commitment is to tailor and update the application to fully meet the needs of this niche customer group.

    Kind regards,

    Ian

  2. Ted Brooks says:

    I have just completed testing of both TrialPad and Evidence, another trial presentation app. I will be writing a review on both, and it should appear next week on Law.com. For now, the intitial piece may be seen at http://trial-technology.blogspot.com/2010/12/ipad-apps-for-trial-presentation.html

    I will follow with a review of two jury selection apps – iJuror and JuryTracker.

  3. Good review. TrialPad’s developer contacted me about the release, however in my practice I would not be able to put it through its paces. Thanks for not only the review but also the comparison to a much more affordable alternative.

  4. N says:

    I am a litigator, I love my ipad, and don’t foresee buying this app at that price level. For one thing, as much as I like the ipad, I’m not going to mess around with it to go to trial or even to conduct a hearing. With six figure verdicts at stake, most clients would prefer that we lawyers focus on the job of lawyering, leaving the technology aspects of my presentation to a trial technology expert, whether that’s a paralegal or an actual techie.

    I would be much more likely to buy an app for my own use for less high-stakes purposes, like taking a deposition. But even then, I’m not going to pay 90 bucks for it. Right now, my Goodreader app (cost: 99 cents) and ipad’s Notes app (cost: free) work brilliantly for that and many other litigation purposes.

  5. Sarah DaSilva says:

    I have TrialPad and love it. I’m a paralegal and this is a time and effort saver hands down, and price is well worth it.

    Quick story though, to comment on the above:
    A couple days ago I sent home the handyman I hired. He was using a rock to hammer nails into the wall. His explanation was that the rock worked, and was free.

    Wrong tool for the job though. Duh!

  6. Tripp says:

    I own both apps, TrialPad and Evidence, and think all the concerns about price point are downright funny. First of all, Evidence is a dud. It doesn’t work…plain and simple. It took me a while to see imported files, when imported files are finally seen there’s a considerable lag in seeing them in the preview pane, when in the preview pane the zoom features are inconsistent, the rotate button is a disaster, etc. I can go on, but why bother. The short of it is I asked for a refund from the Itunes store for my ten bucks. So who cares if the app is $9.99 or $.99 or even free. If it doesn’t work it’s useless and price gets thrown out the window as a factor. So let’s just say price is inadmissible for purposes of this discussion. Now TrialPad is definitely more pricey than the other apps in the App Store, but guess what…it actually works. And any questions or bugs that I thought the app had were quickly answered by the developer. The bugs were actually features they had built into the app and weren’t really “bugs” at all. Thus, my thinking, to justify the price, is that TrialPad isn’t really an app but software, software specifically developed for my profession. And if I use it for just one case it’s paid for its hefty cover charge. My closing statement is as follows: if you’re an attorney that’s sweating ninety bucks, like Tomasz & N are, then perhaps you’re not very successful at what you do and should be looking for another profession. May I suggest you do what Peter Summerill (owner of MacLitigator) did and start up your own blog?

  7. pete says:

    In fairness, the objections to price say less about the ‘success’ of the attorney and more about the unwillingness to pay a high price for a limited feature set. @N’s point is an interesting one. In effect, ‘should’ a trial lawyer be using tech during trial? Or, is tech something that ‘should’ be left to support staff because it’s too distracting? Expect a detailed post on this latter at some point in the future as it is an important issue.

  8. Tripp Siegel says:

    Duly noted Counsel. I think support during trial falls within the litigator’s discretion. But if an app like Trialpad is effective you can conceivably have your support staff utilizing it during trial as opposed to using higher priced alternatives. That, I believe, would be the best of both worlds.

    In any case (pun intended), I respect your opinion and find the dialogue refreshing and thought-provoking.

    -Tripp

  9. Ted Brooks says:

    My review is complete and should be published on the AmLaw sites 1/11/11. I will reprint an enhanced version on my blog 1/12/11 ( http://trial-technology.blogspot.com). I will also post updates via Twitter (@litigationtech). Definitely lots of interest in this topic!

  10. Ted Brooks says:

    My review of TrialPad and Evidence (two iPad Apps for trial presentation) has just been posted on AMLAW http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1202477602410

  11. Rob Dean says:

    Too expensive! I achieve the same functionality in court with Dropbox (free), GoodReader ($2.99), and a program called 2Screens ($4.99) – which is actually better because 2Screens allows me to use my iPhone as a Bluetooth Remote for the presentation! I am going to be writing about the pros and cons of TrialPad in an upcoming post at http://www.walkingoffice.com.

    Rob Dean

  12. Bill says:

    I tried both these apps and they simply are lacking in any real features. The iPad has no real file management system. It is frustrating.

    I read Mr. Brooks review and it is spot on. These are toys, not real serious tools for litigators.

    Use Sanction, TrialDirector, or TrialSmart. TrialSmart is a wonderful app and support is wonderful.

    I have thousands of documents in my cases, I would never use these apps or an iPad. I like my iPad for pure enjoyment while sitting around the tv.

  13. Wayne says:

    I would rather use iAnnotate.

  14. Jeremy says:

    Hey Bill, I have a question:
    Which company do you work for – Sanction, TrialDirector, or TrialSmart?

    I own both apps and couldn’t be happier with TrialPad.

    Got my money back for Evidence when it crashed on me three times within the first minute of use.

    Sometimes in life you get what you pay for.

  15. Tom says:

    I use iAnnotate, it does the trick and it is under $10.

  16. Pingback: Presenting Evidence? There’s an App for that (TrialPad)

  17. Chuck says:

    Getting ready for a month long trial and found all this interesting. Insurance company counsel hired “presentation experts” for $75K – and I am not the least worried. Being able to highlight on the fly and appear like I can do it easily is the key for me. Not sure about TrialPad but will spring for that $89 to find out. Alternative – Trial Smart and the always popular MBAir. Great review, Pete.

  18. pete says:

    Chuck:
    As always you’re David to their Goliath. Sling n stones vs. carpet bombing. Go get ‘em.

  19. James says:

    TrialSmart from Clarity leveled the playing field for me. I use it all the time in all my cases.

    I do like my iPad though, lots.

  20. http://lawyertechreview.com/2011/ipad-apps-lawyer-reviews-iannotate-trialpad

    The TrialPad app, on the other hand, performed flawlessly from the display end. Document organization is logical from a lawyer perspective. In fairness, TrialPad was designed by lawyers for lawyers. Though it costs nine times more, it is worth it. Eighty bucks simply isn’t enough of a savings to justify bumbling in front of a jury. Or a judge. Or, most important, my client.

  21. Franky says:

    TrialSmart is really the only option for my money or iAnnotate on my iPad.

    KeyNote on iPad is nice as well.

  22. Chuck says:

    Have you tried Exhibit A? Tried it and it does all the same stuff for $9.99. Easy to use and good Dropbox integration.

  23. Pingback: Exhibit A – iPad Trial Presentation App | MacLitigator

  24. John says:

    I noticed something today that about made me fall out of my chair laughing.

    I am working on a couple of apps for the iPad myself for TrialSmart and DepoSmart, so I decided to look around and see what was out there. So, I visited the app store today and came across TrialPad. As I scrolled through the mixed reviews I noticed one review that was, well, sounded too good to be true.

    Here is the text:
    I was sitting through jury selection on Friday with my costly blowup exhibits. Found trialpad (lowercase) at a break, installed it, and wowed the courtroom with it in my opening on Monday. I can’t say enough about it. Its easy to learn, easy to use. My adversary had his IT crew there in this large document case, had it not been for trialpad (lowercase), we would never been able to compete. It was my own IT crew! The price is so worth it. Also, customer service is extraordinary. Responded via telephone to my inquiries, from overseas in minutes.

    When I looked at the name of the commenter, it was none other than the people that made the product, and the name of the commenter was, well, TrialPad.

    That’s certainly one way to overcome negative comments, not the most ethical though.

  25. Hi John,

    The review you mentioned is genuine, as are all of the reviews as far as I know (although I do think that competitors have given us the two one-star ratings). The attorney in question is a lawyer in New Jersey who was involved in a true David and Goliath case. It is actually been followed up on by the media. (Maybe you’ll also accuse us of writing our own articles in the New York Times??)

    The reason I know, and before you also accuse us of having our support done overseas, I was the person she talked to. I was on vacation overseas when I received an email from her and promptly solved her problem with a phone call.

    Unfortunately this was her first review and it seems she placed the name of the app in the field for her screen name so now any review she does on the App Store will have the screen name “TrialPad”.

    Good luck with your apps, and I hope you can be more positive in your marketing than putting such efforts, as you have been doing, into trying to discredit others.

    Kind regards,

    Ian
    ian@litsoftware.com
    http://www.TrialPad.com
    Lit Software, LLC
    Developers of TrialPad for iPad

  26. Pingback: TrialPad for the iPad « The Attorney Circuit

  27. Jeff says:

    Tripp, the idea that successful lawyers should be able to afford to be indiscriminate with their costs is nonsense. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is far too common and that is why there is a deluge of horrible software written for lawyers. If we want better software, we have to expect and demand more.

    Pete’s observation that the $90 price tag doesn’t fit within the app store ecosystem is apt. $90 may not be much to spend on a great app that serves your purpose. However, since the app store doesn’t provide a good mechanism for free trials or evaluation periods, we are not being asked to fork out $90 for a great app that serves our purpose, we are being asked to fork out $90 for an app that has some probability of being great and fulfilling our purpose. Considering that I spent about $1200 on apps the first year that I had my ipad and today only use a handful of paid apps, for me that the probability is low. This nature of the app store ecosystem should be by considered by developers when setting a price.

    It should also be considered by users when purchasing apps. I knew i was pretty fast and loose when purchasing apps in the beginning, but when i actually went thru the trouble of adding up all of my purchases (which apple makes very hard to do by the way, you can get this from itunes but they render the reports as an image with no selectable text and the font size is too small to OCR accurately) I was astonished that I spent just that much. I encourage everyone to do it, and to figure out the percent of apps they still use. Mine is right about 10%.

    So purchasing within the app store model, I’m inclined to pay about 10% of what I would consider a fair value for a comparable desktop app that can be evaluated before purchase. This sucks for the developer and the user, thanks apple.

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