Nuance PDF Converter Professional 7 review

Comprehensive PDF creation, editing and exporting facilities at a fraction of the price of Adobe Acrobat Pro. Is it a bargain or do you only get what you pay for?

Unlike Acrobat Pro X's Portfolio templates, Nuance's software presents full-screen previews of Word and Excel files, complete with scrollbars and worksheet tabs to view the full document. PowerPoint files can be previewed too but a simple text animation proved too much for it, rendering half-way off the screen.

Nuance's Portfolios look considerably more utilitarian than Acrobat Pro's glossy designs. Embedded files are presented in a grid where a choice of colour schemes is the only effort towards aesthetics. We couldn't find an easy way to reorder files in the grid, as their order is defined by various criteria in a list view (we eventually found a workaround by creating a custom column called Order, numbering the files, sorting by Order and then hiding the column).

There's an option to design a welcome page, comprising an image and some text, but while it appeared when the PDF was opened in Nuance's software, there was no sign of it in Adobe Reader. However, while Nuance's Portfolios don't have the pizazz to woo a potential client, the straightforward, functional approach is ideal for sharing files with existing ones.

This workmanlike, slightly cumbersome implementation of Portfolios is typical of the package as a whole. There are surprisingly few features that it lacks compared to Acrobat Pro, although there are exceptions. The lack of CYMK colour support makes it unsuitable for professional printing tasks, and Google Docs is a much better low-cost option for online surveys if Acrobat Pro is deemed too expensive.

For other tasks PDF conversion and editing, Portfolio creation, managing comments and revisions while it isn't as polished as Acrobat Pro, it gets the job done. Our biggest frustration was that, in our tests at least, closing the Office plug-ins' or print driver's Preferences caused the host application to hang for up to a minute. It's certainly less than ideal, but as with many features in this software, the odd minute wasted here and there may be a price worth paying for a saving of almost 400.

Verdict

PDF Converter Professional 7 delivers on its promise to deliver a business-oriented PDF workflow at an accessible price. There are surprisingly few features in Acrobat Pro X that Nuance’s software lacks. Its implementation is less glossy and, at times, a little clunky, but Adobe’s far pricier software has some clunky moments of its own. We’d hesitate to recommend it for professional printing jobs, but with a few small exceptions such as its missing mail merge capabilities, it’s fit for purpose as a general-purpose business tool. However, we doubt whether most people will have either the time or patience to get to grips with its more advanced features.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Processor: Intel Pentium III or faster Memory: 512MB (1GB recommended) Hard disk: 500MB free space OS: Windows XP (SP3), Vista (SP2), 7

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