For $5, GoodReader transforms your $500 iPad into the best reader, file manager, and annotator on the market. While Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, Google Books, and Barnes & Noble NOOK for iPad allow customers to browse, buy, and read books on the iOS, when it comes to files from other sources—from personal documents to JSTOR articles—the iPad hasn't yet cleared a space on its bookshelf. With a host of synchronization options, dexterous file support, and Acrobat-compatible annotation capability, GoodReader for iPad is a great buy for students, educators, researchers, lawyers, and doctors looking to get the most out their textual documents. The latest version (v3.5.0) builds on an already formidable solution by making it a better ambassador to cloud-based services and remote servers. GoodLooks When you look at a document in GoodReader, you see the document, not the menus, buttons, and bars. Tapping the screen reveals three navigation panes, pinned to the top (buttons for help and home), left (a navigation slider), and bottom (document controls). The most important nuggets reside in the bottom pane, including sharing and viewing controls. When you're finished, tapping the screen again recoils the three panes recoil from sight, leaving you with your document, and nothing else. View Slideshow See all (10) slides

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GoodReader is a GoodHost. The app will accept files of all types, whether they moseyed in from Microsoft Office, iWork, Safari, or an image editor. I particularly liked that, on opening a file, the app lets you choose to convert it to another format. This means that if I have a Word document that I want to markup and e-mail to a colleague, I can convert it into a PDF without a second thought. If that document has footnotes, I can zoom up to 50 times closer for a better look (perhaps enough to navigate Ulysses). And if the document totes clumsy page margins, I can slice and dice them with GoodReader's crop tool.

The catch is that unless you manually transferred it from your computer or pulled it down from a web service (up next), you won't see your files. Using the app's search-less, text-heavy help menu reveals only convoluted workarounds. I would love for GoodReader to better interoperate with other iPad apps. For example, I can see educational utility in opening a DRM-free classic downloaded into iBooks for annotation in GoodReader.

GoodFinds In addition to all those files peppered across our 'pads, GoodReader embraces the rest of our e-lives. As expected, you can transfer files from your desktop to your iPad via iTunes sync. There's also Wi-Fi connectivity, helpful if you're in the same network—another room, for example. Most importantly, however, GoodReader has its eyes on the clouds: the latest version effortlessly integrates with Apple iDisk, Dropbox, Google Docs, SugarSync, and just about any other WebDAV, FTP and SFTP servers. GoodReader is ready to interoperate, whether you're downloading or syncing.

With a username and password, I connected to both my Google Docs and Dropbox accounts. I chose to download the files into different formats (converting .txt and .doc files to PDFs) and created my own folder structure in GoodReader. By default, files download to your iPad's document folder, so they're easily accessible to other apps. And for those looking to lug libraries in their tablets, GoodReader lets you download multiple files at a clip.