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
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.