Nuance Power PDF review: PDF editor and conversion suite

Most PDF applications are designed for the consumer or graphic artist, as a way of distributing documents attached to emails or as downloads. There's a third important use, though, for businesses to archive materials at high quality and with minimal fuss. That's what Nuance's Power PDF is primarily designed for.

It's available in Standard and Advanced versions, with Advanced including redaction, special page numbering (Bates stamps) , DMS support, custom workflows, network deployment tools and a PDF/A and accessibility compliance checker. The Advanced version is geared more towards enterprise use.

The main screen of Power PDF is designed to look familiar, with a ribbon interface across the top, under the tab menu. There's a wealth of tools in the ribbon for selection, editing and notation. Notation isn't confined to sticky notes, and you can use Dragon speech recognition to add voice notes at any point in a document, though you will need a noise-cancelling headset to dictate them.

As a test of the creation algorithm, we threw a selection of files at the combine routine, including PDF, text, jpg, Word and Publisher. Most PDF applications threw their hands up at Microsoft's desktop publisher files, but Power PDF took it in its stride, ran Publisher, loaded the document and printed it to Nuance's own virtual PDF printer, before combining it into the PDF we were creating.

It also handled documents of different sizes, creating pages within the PDF file to match. It supports both PDF packages and the more recent Portfolios, which support folders, so you can maintain an existing file structure. PDFs can be created from within the most popular Office apps, too, with an extra Nuance tab appearing in their ribbons. Additionally, it also works from within Internet Explorer and can create a PDF from a current web page. Power PDF can create multiple PDFs or combine several files into one, both as setup-and-forget batch processes.

PDF conversion is a major part of Power PDF and Nuance incorporates OCR technology, borrowed from its OmniPage product. With this it can change image PDFs, captured from a scanner or camera, into searchable PDFs, which can be computer searched for content. An extension of this is full conversion to Office or WordPerfect documents.

Once converted, text documents can be edited in Word or directly in Power PDF and the editing facilities are better integrated than in earlier products. As well as making text changes, page elements – including graphics and photos – can be rearranged or removed and new ones added.

PDF or converted Office documents can be saved locally, or directly into the cloud. The software supports PDF and PDF/A standards, with multiple levels of conformance.

Verdict

Power PDF is a PDF editor for serious customers, ideal for those with a lot of archival or document conversions to handle in the course of their work. It's considerably easier to use than many of its rivals and combines document creation and conversion, including organising batch jobs, within a familiar interface. This is a comprehensive PDF tool for office and Office.

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