Adobe Acrobat Pro X review

Paperless workflows are more popular than ever, but does Adobe’s PDF production software hold the keys to a digital future?

Price
£401

The ability to generate PDFs isn't far behind email and word processing as an essential business tool, but at 401, Adobe pitches Acrobat Pro X as a premium product for specialists rather than for every office PC. Various other applications provide sophisticated PDF management for a fraction of the cost (such as Nuance PDF Converter Professional 7), and there's no shortage of free utilities that can convert printable documents to PDF, so Acrobat Pro X has its work cut out to justify its high price.

Advanced configuration and pre-flight checks for professional printing jobs is one strong justification. Adobe's and Nuance's PDF printer drivers both offer control over font embedding and the downsampling and compression quality of images. Adobe goes further, though, with the option to avoid downsampling images that are just over the desired pixels per inch (ppi), which can produce quantisation errors.

Acrobat Pro also supports CYMK conversion and colour spaces, and includes templates for various PDF/X standards. These ensure compliance with ISO standards designed for graphic content exchange and long-term archival. When preparing a document for mass distribution, if nothing else it's reassuring to be using software from the inventor of the PDF format. InDesign and Quark XPress users needn't buy Acrobat for these features, though, as these packages have similar features built in.

Acrobat Pro also includes extensive tools for online collaboration. Documents are converted to PDF and uploaded to www.acrobat.com, and colleagues are emailed a link to invite them to review the document, add comments and make amendments. Significantly, the other people don't need to have Acrobat Pro installed the free Reader 9 is sufficient although the new Reader X is better because of its new Comments tool pane that shows the status of comments and amendments.

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