The Professional version of Adobe's Acrobat is £510, and while that cost could be absorbed by a large or medium-sized business, smaller fry are likely to be fishing for a cheaper alternative. Could ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro be it?

ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro can take standard PDF files and convert them into Microsoft Word, Excel, RTF, TXT or HTML files. And it can convert these files back to PDFs again, allowing you to edit PDFs (albeit in a long-winded way) without paying the eye-watering sum asked by Adobe.

How highly you rate ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro's ability to convert PDFs depends upon the extent of your ambition. It can handle the simple stuff well - pages of text or material packed with large images were fine. Subject it to something rather more complex, however, and the results are less consistent.

Some articles needed extensive reworking, while help and tutorial documents frequently caused problems from their tiny icons, sub-headings and generally awkward layouts. You can dramatically improve quality by repartitioning trickier pages; while the program makes this simple, it is a time-consuming process.

In use, ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro is faster than the three-year old version 2.0, and ahead of the affordable competition.

One excellent feature is the ability to turn PDFs into searchable versions, allowing you to quickly find certain phrases. You can also ‘Redact' information - blank out parts of the document for confidentiality.

ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro boasts excellent compression, with files reduced to a fraction of their size. A five-page PowerPoint became a 337kB PDF. Compressed, the file size dropped to just 75kB. The difference in quality was very small - indeed, almost impossible to notice in this instance.

ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro adds useful security features. Password protection can be added to enable not just first opening, but also before printing or editing. Meanwhile, Bates Numbering lets you fix an individual code and date to each PDF page to identify documents later. Multiple files can be combined within one single PDF file, allowing you to compile large amounts of data.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/Server 2003/Server 2008
  • 1GHz Intel or AMD processor
  • 1GB drive space
  • 512MB RAM
  • Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/Server 2003/Server 2008
  • 1GHz Intel or AMD processor
  • 1GB drive space
  • 512MB RAM

OUR VERDICT

ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 Pro's interface is clean and easy to use. Its speed and features such as compression and searchable PDFs make it a strong contender. While not uniformly successful in format conversion, results are better than cheaper alternatives. Try your complex files first in the trial version. You may find it good enough as a viable alternative to Acrobat Pro, at around tenth the price.

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