Adobe's Acrobat software has evolved beyond merely reading Adobe's PDF files. With the new Acrobat 9.0, Adobe adds features that elevate Acrobat to a potential must-have application for business and individuals alike.

See also:

Adobe Acrobat.com beta review

You can choose among three flavours of Acrobat: the £311 Standard (which includes the cool new PDF Portfolio feature), the £499 Pro (which adds additional options to Portfolio), and the £727 Pro Extended (which now bundles Adobe Presenter for automating PowerPoint presentations with audio and video - previously a separate application - and can convert various video file types to Flash video and has a 3D mapping overlay so you can create PDF maps). We looked at a late beta of the Pro Extended version.

Portfolio is one of the most useful additions to Acrobat in years. With Portfolio, you have the ability to very easily create a suite of related files and documents - complete with their own intro screen. Conceptually, this almost reminds me of how Apple's OS X 10.5 lets you group files and documents into related "Spaces". The difference here is that you can create a single document that you can send to others, too. The Portfolio can be read by the free Adobe Reader 9.0.

Creating a Portfolio is simple: choose from among the existing file templates, and then choose the behaviour and presentation within a file template (for example, you can opt for files to be lined up, or to revolve around in an iTunes CoverFlow-like fashion) for the welcome screen.

Then you drag and drop what you want to be in this Portfolio into the container. Portfolios remain organic documents; you can add files and folders to an existing portfolio as needed. A Portfolio outputs as a .PDF document.

NEXT PAGE: Flash support, comparing PDFs and our expert verdict > >

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks

Adobe's Acrobat software has evolved beyond merely reading Adobe's PDF files. With the new Acrobat 9.0, Adobe adds features that elevate Acrobat to a potential must-have application for business and individuals alike.

Since Adobe Acrobat 9.0 integrates support for Flash video - a first - you can even integrate an .swf Flash application for viewing within the Portfolio. If you want to edit a file that's within a portfolio, no problem: clicking on the file opens it in the appropriate application; you can then save the file and it closes back into the Portfolio.

Another nifty feature (in Pro and Pro Extended): the ability to compare two .PDF files, with the text and image differences highlighted so you can what's different. This document comparison could be useful for deciphering changes between versions of a document. Adobe has added a whole connected element to Acrobat (all three versions) as well; Acrobat.com.

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks

Adobe Acrobat 9.0: Specs

  • 1.3GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home, Professional, or Tablet PC Edition with Service Pack 2 or 3 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2 for 64-bit)
  • or Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with or without Service Pack 1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Internet Explorer 6.0
  • 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended)
  • 985MB of available hard-disk space
  • 1,024x768 screen resolution
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Video hardware acceleration (optional)
  • 1.3GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home, Professional, or Tablet PC Edition with Service Pack 2 or 3 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2 for 64-bit)
  • or Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with or without Service Pack 1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Internet Explorer 6.0
  • 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended)
  • 985MB of available hard-disk space
  • 1,024x768 screen resolution
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Video hardware acceleration (optional)

OUR VERDICT

Much more than a simple PDF reader, the collaboration and review tools of Adobe Acrobat 9.0 will make it a useful addition to any office.

Find the best price