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Product: Acrobat X Professional
Company: Adobe
Website: http://www.adobe.com
MSRP:
$299 Standard / $449 Professional / $1199 Suite
Upgrade: $139 Standard / $199 Professional / $799 Suite
Review By: Robert Stein

There are very few software programs nowadays that are a mainstay to any computing environment; of those most are inherent to the operating system (such as Internet Explorer), and even fewer are software designed by 3rd party vendors. Definitely an exception, Adobe has released new version of its Acrobat program – now on its 10th version – dubbed Adobe Acrobat X. Acrobat has proved itself over the years has one of the most reliable methods to share documents, thanks in part to its backwards compatible, free, Acrobat Reader product that is in use by hundreds of millions users worldwide. To keep from becoming dated, Adobe has released the Adobe Acrobat X family (Acrobat X Reader, Standard, Professional, and Suite) with new features designed to maintain that edge for information sharing and collaboration. Now that Microsoft allows you to natively save to PDF from most of their applications, some users are starting to wonder if the investment in the full software program is still justified. We’ve reviewed the new software to make the determination that the Acrobat family still deserves the stature it has in the market. Does it? Read on to find out.

Setup, Upgrading & Pricing

The installation of Acrobat X Professional was a breeze. We installed two different ways – on a Windows 7 machine with no previous versions were installed and one where Acrobat 9.2 Reader was installed. In both cases, the software installed flawlessly and quickly, in less than three minutes. The installation did not prompt us to uninstall Reader, and we did so manually after the software was installed. No reboots were necessary and we were able to begin using the software immediately. The Acrobat options were then available in all the Office applications. Acrobat X worked fine with the two versions of Office we test, Office 2007 and Office 2010. In the Pro version, you also get conversion for Microsoft Project & Visio. We did get an error in Firefox – saying that Acrobat PDF Creator was in compatible with Firefox version 6.

We do think the initial price for the Acrobat Pro product is a little high - but the Upgrade price is fantastic. You can upgrade from versions as old as Acrobat Pro 7 for just $199...that's a steal! See Adobe's Acrobat Buying Guide, for more information. You are better off just buying an old version of Acrobat on eBay to upgrade at that price! In anycase, you can buy the "download" version of Acrobat X Professional online from Adobe's main website in lieu of the boxed version if you choose.

 

Adobe Acrobat X Suite

Even though we did not review Adobe Acrobat X Suite, we felt it was worth mentioning since the product is new to the Adobe Acrobat family. The Suite version bundles together Acrobat X Pro, Photoshop CS5, Captivate 4, Presenter 7, LiveCycle Designer ES2, and Adobe Media Encoder CS5. With these programs together, you can do things such as: convert a wide variety of video formats for seamless playback in PDF with Media Encoder, Edit and enhance photos to add to your PDF communications with Photoshop, transform static PowerPoint slides into interactive PDF presentations with Presenter and combine audio, video, screen recordings, slides into a rich media experience with Captivate. I think Acrobat X Suite is for the definite power user (such as a in-house marketing department) that really wants to push Acrobat X to the edge and beyond its limits. Be sure to check out our review of Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Features

Adobe has added a bunch of new features to Acrobat X Professional to entice users to upgrade. First, now there is something called “Action Wizard.” Action Wizard is designed to make your processes much faster by creating, managing and deploying frequently used tasks that can be spread across multiple PDF files. As you can see with the screenshots below, this truly allows you to customize whatever you need done to PDFs – and you can easily do this to one or many files. You can even add custom instructions for each step. Seven actions are pre-built: archive paper documents, get scan doc, prepare for distribution, prepare for review, prepare for web publishing, create accessible PDFs, and publish sensitive documents.

One thing which is nice, but necessarily new…is the Take a snapshot option, where you can take a “photo” of any part of the PDF document and paste it to the clipboard. Very handy if you are pulling stuff for the web. Another nice new feature, is the Excel export. Now, you can pick a table or selection of data from a PDF and export it directly into a new or existing Excel workbook. The same goes for Word, if you use the selection tool vs. snapshot, when you paste the data into Word all content is directly editable. Much easier than it was in the past. For those who are reading/proofing a lot of documents, the new “Reading mode” drops all of the Acrobat X menus, etc. and makes a nice clean interface that you can quickly go through pages with. Acrobat X is now integrated with SharePoint – you can now access SharePoint from Acrobat and vice versa, plus documents are able to be version checked once saved back into SharePoint. Although most end consumers I wouldn’t say would use this feature, I can see how the small to midsize business market definitely wanted this.

Of course, you can also still collaborate with your Acrobat documents but using the workflow features at Acrobat.com. New features in this area include SendNow, which is a great file transfer tool for PDF files. You can transfer up to 100 MB free or 2 GB with a subscription, without any e-mail or FTP issues, plus a proof of receipt.

Some other miscellaneous new features: improved password strength detection, child documents can be digitally signed within a portfolio, new commenting tools (you can now see which comments you have read, or not, and now Reader users can comment and markup as well), exporting search results to PDF, easier OCR tools for multiple documents, and a customizable quick tools area for common tasks. As you can see, a lot was added into Acrobat X Pro. Those are just the new features and not even the ones that were improved from previous versions!

Portfolios

It has never been easier to create PDF Portfolios. To begin, click Create PDF Portfolios from the welcome screen. Next, we had to choose a layout for the portfolio, either click-through, freeform, grid, linear or wave. We chose freeform – and added the files we wanted in the portfolio. The two documents I chose (and they don’t have to be documents, they can be images, multimedia or web content), with just one image, were only 150 KB, but still the portfolio saved to 1.58 MB. Once fully in the portfolio editor, you can choose from five visual themes, or can import a custom theme…this feature is new for Acrobat X. I chose the “Tech Office” theme (see screenshot) and it made a few customizations (header, etc.) and voila!, my portfolio was created. The header and other embedded file information are saved if you switch between layouts. You can easily extract the files and/or open them in their native application from the portfolio. If you do not have Reader installed, you can push “preview” to see how the document looks.  Some other things you can do are play around with the color palette or “include” the fonts with the file so they display uniformly across all computers.  In addition, the save PDF Portfolio as a webpage is very useful for Web professionals – and now eliminates the need to send large files via e-mail, etc. just upload to your site and send the link across! See the screenshots below for a sample PDF Portfolio we created in just a few minutes, as well as some Adobe versions of more complex examples.

Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 100%
Features: 95%
Interface/Design: 90%
Ease of Use: 95%
Price/Value: 90%
Documentation:90%
Overall: 93%

As you can see, Acrobat has added enough features in Acrobat X Professional to continue to make it a robust tool to reliably share information to virtually any user. As a business user who previously used the Professional versions 8, and 9, I think Acrobat X is the most versatile version yet, with new features that enable you to have much more in-depth PDF documents/portfolios and process PDFs much more quickly with the Action Wizard and other time-saving features. Even though the files are still large, the publish to web and/or the SendNow file sharing features make the file transfer easy and eliminates a lot of the hassle. I do wish there would be more applications that Acrobat can be built in natively, perhaps Quickbooks, etc.?  For smaller files, you can still e-mail directly from the applications in one or two clicks. While the initial cost is slightly high, I think the upgrade cost is a no brainer for long-term total cost of ownership (TCO). In addition, the Adobe Acrobat X Suite now provides that higher level for the power users who want to take Acrobat to the extreme. Even the free version -  Acrobat X Reader – has enough new features to justify the upgrade. Overall, I definitely recommended the Adobe Acrobat X product family as a continued mainstay software program for the business environment.

 

Specs & Package
Overall Score 93%
Version Reviewed Acrobat X Professional
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points
  • Support for Office 2010

  • Good upgrade price

  • Relatively Easy to Use

  • Robust Set of Features

  • Adobe Online Services

  • "Read out loud" feature

  • Less buggy than Acrobat 9

The Bad Points
  • Initial Price Sorta High

  • Large File Sizes

  • Portfolio tools can use more tweaking

In The Box
Download Version (reviewed)
Boxed Version Available
Similar Product Previous Versions of Acrobat
System Requirements

1.3GHz or faster processor

Microsoft® Windows® XP Home, Professional, or Tablet PC Edition with Service Pack 3 (32 bit and 64 bit); Windows Server® 2003 (32 bit and 64 bit; Service Pack 2 required for 64 bit); Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 (32 bit and 64 bit); Windows Vista® Home Basic or Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 2 (32 bit and 64 bit); Windows 7 Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise (32 bit and 64 bit)

Internet Explorer 7 or 8; Firefox 3.5 or 3.6

512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)

1.9GB of available hard-disk space

1024x576 screen resolution

DVD-ROM drive

Video hardware acceleration (optional)
 

Reviewer's PC
Dell Vostro V130 Laptop
Windows 7 (64-bit)
Intel Core i5 @1.33 Ghz
4 GB Ram

 

 

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