Do you work in an environment that relies on PDF documents as much as it does on Microsoft Office? If so, you may find it becoming difficult to manage all those file formats. That's when you need to invest in a PDF conversion tool. I tried out Nuance's $100 PDF Converter Pro 5, and was very impressed with its ease of use and outstanding accuracy.
Of course, you don't have to spend $100 on a PDF conversion tool--you can find free downloads and free Web services that convert documents into PDFs. For a quick conversion, such tools are fine in a pinch. You also can opt for one of the two $50 products that Nuance offers--PDF Converter 5 or PDF Create--that do one-way conversions to PDF. But Nuance PDF Converter Pro 5 is a veritable Swiss-army-knife solution, offering advanced features such as digital signature support, side-by-side PDF-file comparisons, form creation, and PDF archiving of Microsoft Outlook mail.
This Pro version is not only less expensive than two major competitors (the $130 Able2Extract and the $399 Document Converter Pro from Neevia), but it offers more features, converts documents more quickly, and improves on its competitors' conversion accuracy. It's also easier to use, thanks to a friendly interface and an optional assistant, and it handles images, links, and tables impressively.
PDF Converter Pro's most attractive features are its two-way conversion capabilities and its expansive file format support. It will generate PDF files from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WordPerfect, MRC PDF (a compressed, three-layer format used by Nuance Omnipage and Paperport products), and searchable PDF files. It also converts PDF documents to any of these formats for editing with amazing accuracy.
I converted a 154-page PDF file (containing text, images, links, and tables) to a Word document. PDF Converter Pro 5 completed the task in 4 minutes, 1 second, with an accuracy level near 99 percent. Only a few images were converted incorrectly; they came out as groups of images and not single objects. Able2Extract took 4:45 to complete the same task--that's 18 percent slower--and the accuracy level wasn't quite as high. Like PDF Converter Pro, Able2Extract does offer two-way conversion, but it supports fewer file formats. Neevia's Document Converter Pro, meanwhile, uses a clunky interface that's better suited to batch conversion, not one-off use. And, despite being four times the price of Converter Pro 5, it offers only a one-way conversion to PDF.
Nuance PDF Converter Pro 5 also provides seamless content editing, regardless of the file type. You can edit PDFs directly within the app: Objects can be resized or rotated, notes can be added, and changes can be tracked for review and approval. One of the nicest features: similar to creating a compressed ZIP file with multiple objects, PDF Converter Pro 5 can create a single PDF package made from any or all of the supported file types. Nuance also includes a PDF comparison tool that provides a side-by-side look at two PDF documents and points out all changes.
If PDF usage is prevalent in your office, Nuance PDF Converter Pro 5 should find a place in your toolbox.
-- Kevin C. Tofel
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