Posted by: Ed Tittel
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How often does life hand you an opportunity you’d jump on hard, with both feet, if given the opportunity to do so? For me—and I suspect for most of us–the answer to that question has to be “Not very often.” That’s why I found myself at first pleasantly surprised last week, then completely blown away, when asked to look at a forthcoming new software release. I’m talking about the Nitro PDF product family, especially their free Nitro PDF reader and their bargain-priced Nitro PDF Professional products, from Melbourne- and San Francisco-based Nitro PDF Software. I’ve been aware of the Nitro PDF products for years, because that company has offered the major alternative to Adobe Acrobat since 2005. I’d also been frustrated with security and stability issues related to Acrobat elements for some time now, and hoping to find a more compact, faster, and reliable alternative. So how cool is it to be invited to check out something that I’d wanted to dig into anyway, even if it was only for my own good? Answer: Pretty cool, indeed.
Thanks to an offer from the PR agency that handles Nitro PDF, I was invited to check out their latest software release, and to take both 32- and 64-bit versions of their software for a spin. At first, the biggest draw for me was the extremely low frequency of entries in the Mitre Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database for Nitro PDF products vis-à-vis entries for Acrobat: zero references to Nitro PDF, versus 59 direct references for Adobe Acrobat, as of 5/24/2010. Of course, I’ve probably also become too inured to Acrobat Reader’s size to really notice it any more: 203 MB of disk storage for my Reader 9.0 folder on a 32-bit Windows 7 system, versus 53 MB of disk storage for the full-blown Nitro Reader application on that same system (78 MB for Nitro PDF Pro vs. 400+ MB for Adobe Acrobat Pro). What I’ve never become inured to is Adobe Acrobat’s and Adobe Reader’s speed and responsiveness, so I can only observe that for every operation I tried out, the Nitro PDF product was noticeably faster and more responsive than its Adobe counterpart.
But wait: it gets better. The Adobe Reader counterpart program, Nitro PDF Reader, is free just like Adobe Reader. But it’s much faster, more compact, and less intrusive on your system. In fact, Nitro Reader uses no special purpose downloader to grab and install the program, and it involves no start-up monitoring or independent update checking tools, unlike those from Adobe. You can pick up and move licenses from one machine to another, without having to run a special “reclaim license” program on the original host machine as with Acrobat. The Nitro PDF license information menu includes a Deactivate button that you must click before uninstalling the program on one PC, before installing that software on a new host machine instead. If you need to edit or manipulate PDF documents, you pay a list price of $99 for the Nitro PDF Professional program (I was able to find a coupon that dropped my cost to $69 to license the program with a quick search on “Nitro PDF Pro coupons” in Bing and Google) instead of the $299 you must pay for a full-blown copy of Adobe Acrobat (the best discount price I could find for Adobe Acrobat Professional was around $179, and most etailers sell if for over $235).
Then there’s the functionality: frankly Nitro PDF Professional deserves the “Professional” moniker, while there are many ways in which Adobe Acrobat Professional fails to live up to the cognomen.
My favorite feature has to be the Nitro Reader Signature stamp: a handy-dandy way to associate one or more scanned-in signatures with a digital stamp that you can affix to any PDF document wherever you like (in a contract’s signature block, most likely) by positioning your mouse cursor and clicking an interface button. Then, too, Nitro Reader will let you drop text in wherever you like on a PDF document, whether or not the document was designed to accommodate input fields where you want that text to go (try that, Adobe!). No more printing files out so you can save your data input (one of Adobe Reader’s favorite gotchas is to allow you to enter text input into designated input fields, only to inform you that you can’t save that input—none of that from Nitro Reader, thank you very much), or hand-write input fields, signatures, and so forth.
It’s very seldom I get the chance to work with a software product that makes me want to get down on my knees and thank my lucky stars for being allowed to use its many, varied, and secure capabilities. Nitro PDF is not only one of the select few products that evokes this response from me, it’s right at the very head of that short list.
Visit www.nitroreader.com today, and grab yourself a copy of Nitro PDF Reader for free, or take the 30-day trial of Nitro PDF Pro for a spin at www.nitropdf.com. I predict that, if you like me need PDF editing and annotation capabilities, you’ll end up happy to spring for the $99 (or $69 if you get your discount coupon) it will cost you to buy Nitro PDF Pro, and glad of the resulting price-performance-capability ratio!