For many readers, Adobe PDFs are used as often as email and web browsers. The company restricts the manipulation of these files, but if your business demands that you seamlessly switch between PDFs, Word and Excel files, you're going to need a utility for this purpose – and at around £211 for version 8.0, Adobe Acrobat doesn’t come cheap.

Which is exactly why you might find Transformer invaluable. With a powerful OCR (optical character recognition) engine, it converts PDF files into editable Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Visio documents.

Transformer places two icons on your desktop: 'Transform PDF file' and 'Create PDF file'. To achieve either of these, drag-and-drop a compatible file on to the relevant icon. It's that simple. Ease of use is a key aspect of Transformer; its idiot-proof interface is a breeze. But, should you struggle, ABBYY offers free email and telephone technical support.

Conversion works well – to a point. We were impressed by its ability to decipher text and data. When we transformed PDFs of text-heavy PC Advisor pages into Word documents, the text required no further editing. Graphics, images and page formatting were a different matter. But this won't be an issue if the source is a memo or table of data. You get a plethora of output choices, including file size, format and security clearance.

We had less joy creating PDF files. When it works, it's fine. But the software had a propensity to crash. That said, this is not uncommon in preview versions of retail programs.

ABBYY PDF Transformer 2.0 Pro: Specs

  • 200MHz processor
  • Windows 2000 SP2/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 220MB hard disk space
  • SVGA video card
  • 200MHz processor
  • Windows 2000 SP2/XP
  • 64MB RAM
  • 220MB hard disk space
  • SVGA video card

OUR VERDICT

It seems expensive for such simple functionality, but PDF creation is an expensive business. And it's not even close to the asking price of Adobe Acrobat. OCR capabilities are superb; graphical reproduction less so. If extracting words and figures from PDFs is important to your business, this is a sound choice.

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