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?

It's now possible to include URLs and embedded web objects such as video, with the content downloaded as the portfolio is viewed rather than at the design stage. It's a smart idea but, as with Flash integration, its execution in Reader X is a little untidy, with an image placeholder that gives way to a warning message about connecting to the internet. Once again, it might confuse people who thought they were looking at a static PDF. Still, we'd hate to be Luddites and mark Adobe down for expanding into new territories. Flash integration, Portfolios and dynamic streaming content are all interesting developments that might prove to be extremely valuable.

As we noted at the start of this review, there's little point in investing in Acrobat Pro X simply to be able export documents as PDFs. Nuance PDF Converter Professional 7 does that perfectly well and costs just 57 ex VAT.

Another option is Acrobat X Standard (278 ex VAT). However, with no Flash and Portfolio support, Action Wizards, pre-flight checks for professional printing and various other missing features (see Adobe's site for the full list) it seems underpowered compared even to Nuance's application.

There's nothing here that we'd deem essential for existing users, but Office 2010 support might be the exception. Meanwhile, as a reflection of its increasing multimedia capabilities, Acrobat Pro X is now available as part of Acrobat X Suite, which also includes Photoshop CS5, Captivate 5, Presenter 7, LiveCycle Designer ES2 and Media Encoder CS5. The Suite costs 947 ex VAT, or 635 to upgrade from previous versions of Acrobat, Photoshop or Captivate. It's disappointing that the suite doesn't include Flash Pro, though, or at least the simplified Flash Catalyst.

Those running Acrobat Pro 7, 8 or 9 can upgrade for 190 ex VAT. You may be able to get Acrobat Pro, or indeed other Adobe programs, at significantly lower prices than the retail prices quoted here. Adobe's Cumulative Licensing Program can lower software costs for large, bulk orders.

Verdict

There are a few areas that could be neater, but by and large Acrobat Pro X is up to Adobe’s exacting standards. It feels like a professional product, with features that address everyday needs of its users and are elegantly executed.

Whether Adobe’s attempt to expand PDF format into rich media and interactivity will catch on remains to be seen, but there’s little to fault in its implementation. For those with less ambitious aims, this isn’t a must-have upgrade. Still, for new and existing users alike, it’s easy to see how Adobe justifies Acrobat Pro X’s premium price.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Processor: 1.3GHz or faster

Memory: 512MB (1GB recommended)

Hard disk: 1.9GB free space

Display: 1,024 x 576 pixel resolution or higher

OS: Windows XP (SP3), Server 2003 (SP2 for 64-bit), Server 2008, Vista (SP2), 7. Also available for MacOS X 10.5.8 or later

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