TrialPad – Presenting and Annotating in Real Time

TrialPad is an app for your iPad that allows you to “present” PDFs on screens. What is unique about this program is that you can, in real time, annotate the documents for the jury, class or audience. Annotations can consist of highlighting with yellow boxes, writing in a red felt tip marker or redacting with white boxes. Also, you can smoothly zoom in and out of relevant portions of documents to emphasize the information or idea.

It took me a while to really try out and review this program. When it first came out, there were some issues that I thought needed to be addressed before I really gave it a review. The developer addressed those issues. Now, I have had an opportunity to use TrialPad in Court and in class to teach students. I will walk through some of the basics of organizing client or project folders, importing the documents and how to annotate them in “real time” on the projector.

You can learn more by watching some how to videos posted by the company.

My quick opinion…TrialPad is a professional and hi-tech way to present and focus information for an audience in real time. However, with ANY [trial] presentation software, you must practice with the projector on in real time before any actual presentation.

Don’t forget, you will need the Apple VGA Adapter dongle to connect your iPad to the projector. (I am writing this on the eve of the availability of the iPad 2 and would caution the user to determine if a different adapter will be needed and work with TrialPad on the new iPad 2)

(You can click on any of the images below to make them larger. For the sake of saving space, a small image is shown within the review.)

Open Cases or Project Folders

You are presented with an intro folder to allow you to become familiar with working with Trial Pad. Open this folder to read the user guide.

To create a new folder, tap + new case. Then, you can edit and type in a short case name and enter additional information in the space below. Tap done to finish creating your first folder.
It is helpful to organize your cases or projects by folders. On the outside of the folder, you can name it and add additional information in the lower box.

The above is an example of the kind of information you may want to enter about a folder.

User Interface Clean and Simple
You will quickly see that the way you hold the iPad will determine whether the additional column of information about the other documents you have available will be visible. In portrait mode, only the document and some tools will be available to you. In landscape mode, the document list will appear on the left and the document preview to your right. If you have a multipage PDF, you can scroll through the PDF with the drag bar on the right to get to the page you want to see within the PDF.

Along the top, you will see the annotation tools available.

The first one on the left allows you to rotate the document.
The next tool (pen with line) is a highlighter. This highlighter tool allows you to tap to draw a rectangular yellow highlighter box.
The next tool is a pen. This tool lets you draw a red felt marker anywhere on the pdf.

The next tool is a redaction tool. It works like the highlighter box but is white. This allows you to obscure information from the document.

The last tool is the flame or hot doc tool that allows you to save the edited image for quick reference. The Hot Doc document you have drawn on and selected becomes available in the project folder for future easy reference. Basically, a picture is taken of the document with the annotations made at that time.

At the bottom of the page are some additional tools.

Undo, located at the far bottom right allows you to undo the last annotation. Clear wipes away all annotations made to that page.
You can turn the image to the projection on and off by selecting the on/off output option. The gear has a couple of other settings.

Importing Documents – Dropbox Integration
Easy Dropbox integration exists to import PDFs into TrialPad. You need a free Dropbox account.

Once you have set up your Dropbox account, drag the PDFs you want to import into TrialPad into the appropriate Dropbox folder on your computer. Let the sync work.
In TrialPad, tap on the Dropbox icon on the home screen. It is located at the bottom. Select the folder where the PDFs you want to import are located.
Next, tap “Select Files or Folder” and tap on the circles to select the materials you want to import into TrialPad. Tap “Import Selected Files and Folders” and TrialPad will import those items. You can then select which case or project folder you want the documents to be placed into. Tap done. Now, tap the case or project folder to see the imported PDFs. (make sure you are in landscape mode to see the document list on the left)

You are now ready to connect the output dongle to the projector and present.

Play around with pinching and zooming the area of the document that you want your audience to focus on. The movement is smooth and clean.

Again, as with any software you use to present to an audience, you must practice using the tools and become comfortable using them. DO NOT try this or any other presentation program live for the first time without any practice.

If you present to groups of any kind, this tool is a unique addition to your arsenal. It has instant benefits. In real time, you can annotate and highlight important information on materials you are showing to your audience. Additionally, the annotations made in real time can be saved to the hot docs area for quick reference later.
RIght now, you do not have the ability to choose different color markers or thicknesses. I would think those would be in future versions. Also, it is not apparent that the program works with documents that are not PDFs. (JPEG, PNG, etc.)

If you are in the market for a tool to make real time presentations on documents, look no further. I recommend you check it out.


8 thoughts on “TrialPad – Presenting and Annotating in Real Time

  1. I looked at this tool, and it has no where near the complete package that TrialSmart from Clarity Legal has. TrialPad could only display pdfs at 150 dpi, frustrating.

    This isn’t a sale pitch because I am a lawyer, and user but if you want realtime annotations, go with TrialSmart. You can do 2 pages at a time, it has zooming, magnifying, highlighting, lines, redactions, squares, circles, video clip creation, text clips, the works. The annotation colors can be changed in realtime and saved and you can change the transparency as well.

    I have some cases with 100 exhibits, other with 2000. TrialSmart handles both very well.

    Also, with TrialSmart, you can copy the annotations another page so you don’t have to re-create the annotation all the time. This is helpful when you need to annotate quickly from one doc to another.

    Plus, TrialSmart has a great coding feature for coding documents and the support is wonderful. There isn’t a better transcript viewer out there I have found on the Mac, period.

    On the iPad, I use iAnnotate. It is a very robust viewer.

    Cheyenne, Wyoming
    Trial Lawyer

  2. Dear Clint, or should I say Red, or should I say Vick, or should I say John,

    Plugging your software all over the Internet in iPad forums is getting boring.


  3. I am not associated with any software company.

    I practice in Cheyenne, and Jim Fitzgerald from the Fitzgerald law firm recommended the software to me. We went to trial school at the Spence School for Litigators.

    Sorry Larry, don’t meant to burst your bubble.

    Clint “Red”

  4. The major draw back with TrialPad is the limited functionality offered at an exorbitant price. At $90 it is one of the most expensive app in the iPad app store, and all it will do is show PDF files.

    If you are looking for more than a $90 PDF reader, you need to check out Exhibit A in the iPad app store. A simple comparison of the cost and functionality of Exhibit A and TrialPad can be viewed here:

    Exhibit A allows you to easily and effectively display all your exhibits, not just PDFs. The user interface is sleek, simple and intuitive.

    You don’t have to pay $90 for an app that only displays PDFs. Take a look at Exhibit A. You can find us in the app store at:

    Michael Henderson, CEO

Lectura, LLC

  5. Nicely written article, Justin – and thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts on TrialPad. There are three iPad apps for trial presentation (TrialPad, Evidence, Exhibit A), and each has it benefits and shortcomings. I have reviewed all of the programs mentioned, and would encourage looking into all available options.

    TrialPad, Evidence
    Exhibit A

    Comparing these apps to full-blown trial presentation software is not a reasonable comparison, as there are limitations to what the iPad can do. Comparing those with each other is another topic (which is also covered on my blog, for those who may be interested).

    Ted Brooks

  6. Excellent blog! I actually love how it is easy on my eyes and also the data are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!


    I enjoy reading the blog reviews, and users’ comments about TrialPad and other apps as it provides us developers with a wealth of information that would have cost a lot of money in market research just a few years ago. I see no problem with boasting about features and abilities. I feel a large part of your campaign for your own product has been trying to discredit our app. TrialPad has indeed been getting a lot of (well deserved) publicity online. A bit like being a jealous understudy, that publicity has oft been followed by a negative comment about us from you, with a plug for your own app included. This blog is no exception.
    I welcome competition because it is good for consumers, as long as advertising and criticisms are accurate. It does neither of us any good to comment negatively, unfairly or deceptively about each other’s apps. Instead, it confuses the marketplace.
    Choosing partial quotes from selected reviews and posts is self serving and misleading. The comparison you created of TrialPad and your product also serves only to confuse the marketplace. In my perspective, some “advantages” listed are not advantages at all. A freehand highlighter tool becomes very tedious when trying to highlights 20 lines of text, which is why TrialPad, like desktop trial presentation applications, uses a square area tool. Display from the cloud is another “advantage” we deliberately didn’t include in our app because of our concerns about security in the legal community, and with the often inaccessible or unreliable WiFi/3G networks across the country.
    TrialPad was created to aid attorneys in preparing and presenting their matters at trial. Nothing more. The idea was to use my many years of experience in mediations, arbitrations, and trials both here and abroad to the benefit of the presenting attorney.  Attorneys can rest happily understanding that TrialPad is not trying to be all things to all presenters, and that TrialPad features are specific to the legal market. As time is often an attorney’s most valuable asset, the speed in which he or she will be able to be up and running with TrialPad is invaluable. Our app doesn’t have a confusing new interface to learn, and has virtually no learning curve, it is just plug and play.
    Most importantly, TrialPad was designed to work, TrialPad has been solid, stable, and user friendly from the beginning. We have never treated our users as beta testers, and they have responded very positively for it. Although TrialPad was approved by Apple many weeks before our actual release, we decided to keep working on it to make it as user friendly and as stable as possible. We continued to optimize the clean and simple user interface that allows you to get almost everything done in one screen, not requiring you to navigate multiple windows to achieve the simplest task. Even with the extra development time, we’re proud that TrialPad was still the first trial presentation app available on the App Store. And I like to think we’re the best. I welcome the addition of other legal specific apps as it can only legitimize the iOS platform as a serious business tool and benefit us all, developers and users.
    TrialPad is reliable first and foremost, and very simple to understand and use. I believe that is the reason we’ve outsold less expensive presentation apps like yours in the App Store. Another reason is that there are many presentation apps that are priced low, and offer the same reliability and functionality as your app, namely RLTC Evidence and 2Screens, both at $4.99, they are half the price of Exhibit A, and very comparable.
    As many iPad owners may know, Apple does not currently allow a developer to charge for updates, hence every update is listed as “Free”. As we never had the intention to put out an app and then sit on our hands, part of our pricing model is to be able to fund future development. I’m excited about what I do, and I’m passionate and enthusiastic about TrialPad and its abilities in the courtroom. Lit Software prides itself on creating apps that we are proud of, and our users are proud of too. Michael, I wish you good luck with your app as you continue to develop it.
    I won’t be posting any more responses here, I have to get back to work on the new features we’re working on for TrialPad! More user requested features are coming. And our reputation online and in the App Store continues to be positive and strong.
    Thank you to all TrialPad users and supporters.
    Kind regards,

    Lit Software, LLC
    Developer of TrialPad for iPad

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