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Nuance Power: Affordable PDF for all business needs

Businesses looking to make greater use of PDFs have found themselves stuck between two stools. Either they could fork out for a hugely powerful graphics tool with PDF output capabilities, which would really be overkill for their requirements and too expensive to be made available to every employee. Or they could rely on the simplistic PDF output capabilities of everyday office software, which would usually mean many of the powerful features of the PDF format were unavailable. Now, however, Nuance has an alternative called Power PDF, that delivers the features businesses need, without the price and graphics design overhead normally associated with PDF creation.

Nuance is not a newcomer to the PDF software world, and has experience catering for the business user. Its PDF Converter has been on the market for a while, and its PDF software in general has over three million users, giving the company a good track record in this area. The basic features of Power PDF build upon this experience, allowing users to assemble documents and create searchable PDFs from OCR scans. Digital signatures are supported, so PDF contracts can be created and managed, making this much more than a simple conversion tool.

Contract usage is further enhanced by the ability to lock various PDF features down, so these elements of the document remain as originally intended. Further aiding the business user, electronic forms can be created and converted, and documents can be transferred to and from Office formats. All of this is available alongside the usual abilities to add stamp overlays, as well as mark-ups and comments, to existing documents.

However, there are two versions of Power PDF - Advanced and Standard - with the latter aimed more at the individual user, and the former targeting the business user squarely with powerful extra features. Power PDF Advanced adds batch conversion with watch folder support, allowing the PDF creation process to be automated. Network scanning is supported via monitored scan inboxes, where documents can be captured via a multi-function printer and put into shared network folders.

When dealing with sensitive information, redaction is available, so sections that cannot be distributed may be removed from copies for public consumption. A Search and Redact tool facilitates this process by searching and marking a target within a document for redaction. Alongside this, the information that can be stamped into headers and footers includes Bates numbering for legal, medical or business usage. Document compliance can also be checked, ensuring the software meets enterprise data governance controls. Checks can be made against PDF/A (a1/b1, a2/b2/2U 3a/3b/3U) and 508 Accessibility, with the ability to fix files that don't comply with the latter.

In a network environment, the software can also be connected to your existing document management system (DMS), such as SharePoint and Worksite. PDF files can be created from Internet Explorer and sent straight to the DMS. It's also possible to deploy Power PDF on a network in a Citrix-based virtual desktop environment, as well as systems based on Windows Terminal Services.

Further enhancing network deployment, volume licensing is also available, so you can deploy the application for multiple users. Coupled with this, Power PDF Advanced can be deployed with installer customisation options, and a read-only mode is available so that some users can be restricted from having editing permissions.

The software interface is designed very much with ease-of-use in mind. The Quick Access toolbar can be configured with the most commonly-used buttons, such as scanning a document, creating a searchable PDF or reading a PDF out loud, and this will be available whichever menu ribbon tab is currently highlighted. The interface can be customised to move panels and ribbon options to a more convenient location for the task at hand. A Nuance PDF ribbon is also added to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, allowing you to create PDFs and save or email them. As already mentioned, the Internet Explorer toolbar also gains the ability to create PDFs and send via email or to a DMS.

The Power PDF options begin with the Nuance PDF printer driver, which allows documents to be created from directly within Office software. However, files can also be opened from the Power PDF application, which will generate a PDF from the file. The Power PDF application can create PDFs from an attached scanner, and combine multiple files into a single PDF. A PDF can be created from the contents of the clipboard, and a blank PDF or PDF Portfolio can be created, to which content can be added.

Document assembly and splitting tools allow PDF files to be built by rearranging pages and combining them anew, or breaking a PDF into separate files. You can edit text within a PDF using the Touchup tool, for example adjusting font characteristics. You can also perform simple transformations to graphics and images.

There is a full range of tools for adding comments and annotations. Notes can even be placed verbally using the computer's microphone. The Dragon Notes engine will transfer these to the Nuance server in the cloud, before placing the transcribed text into a PDF Sticky Note. Drawing tools can be used to add graphical annotations. Various sets of reviewers' notes can be migrated into a single master document, and comments can be replied to, accepted or rejected.

Power PDF can export PDFs into a variety of other formats too, as well as Microsoft Office, including super-compressed PDFs and WordPerfect files. Exports can be made from areas, as well as the entire document. Image-only PDFs can be converted to Searchable PDFs, with OCR applied to text. This ability can also be configured to occur automatically whenever an image-only PDF is opened, although a user prompt will always be shown. It's possible to set up this kind of conversion as a batch process, too.

Nuance Power PDF brings together a host of sophisticated capabilities into a keenly-priced tool, tailored especially for business users. It has everything you need to get company documents to and from PDF forms, and to edit and manage them without the baggage of much pricier, graphics-oriented options. The Standard version of Power PDF costs £79.99, whilst the Advanced edition is £139.99. Bulk pricing starts at five licenses and special volume pricing for existing Nuance PDF Converter customers is also available.

If you place an order before 30 April, you can win yourself the 16GB version of the Apple iPad Air. Follow this link for more competition details.