• Price: £441 plus VAT . upgrade £189 plus VAT

  • Company: Adobe

  • Pros: Professional presentation and distribution packages for PDF and other document types; Powerful document processing; Point-and-click macro system; Nearly perfect content export to Word and Excel; Reader X can now highlight and comment on PDF files by default

  • Cons: Menu commands and tools spread all over the application; Many features hidden behind easily missed customize button; Find box removed

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

The results I got from exporting tabular content to Excel and XML spreadsheet format were also impressive. Formatting came through crystal clear, including most cell strokes and background shading. I did notice that very light shading--say, 10--30 percent of a color--didn't always survive the conversion from PDF table to Excel table.

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In terms of speed and performance, I found Acrobat X Pro to be about the same as Acrobat 9 Pro. That conclusion is based on tests such as creating PDFs from different sources, combining multiple PDFs, running OCR on scanned documents, searching for keywords in documents, and using various wizards.

Speaking of searching, there is no longer a Find or search field visible in Acrobat X Pro. You can still search for text in documents, of course, by pressing CMD+F to pop open a temporary Find field. I doubt most users, especially that large portion of online users who employ their browsers' Google Search field as an address bar, will recognize that they can still search within PDFs. (Adobe says its test users had no trouble invoking a search on their own without the box.)

I think removing the previously omnipresent Find field from Acrobat's toolbar is a big mistake -- especially since the Common Tools toolbar, the one underneath the Quick Tools toolbar containing the navigation, zoom, and task pane buttons, has so much empty and now wasted space. However, you can insert a Find text button (which gives you a field when you click it) into that space, if you want to.

In addition to a handy feature that shows you the strength of your password, Acrobat X also boasts some other niceties. While scanning a document, Acrobat now automatically detects whether the document is in color or grayscale, adjusting options to compensate. OCR character recognition has also been strengthened to return fewer misspellings on scanned documents. A new Read Mode unclutters the interface, maximizing the space available for reading, and showing a navigation bar only when you hover your mouse over the document.

Acrobat X Pro is tightly integrated with online and server systems, too. Documents may be sent for review via Acrobat.com, and very large files, such as those that might result from combining an array of documents into a PDF Portfolio, may be distributed via the new SendNow file hosting service of Acrobat.com.

If you can manage to find all the commands you need in the menus, task panes, Quick Tools, or other toolbars, you'll find that Acrobat X Pro is a fantastic program with universal function improvement, phenomenal content-exporting capabilities, incredible power to automate task- and document- processing, and compelling document-distribution capabilities. Unfortunately, Acrobat X's messy and unintuitive new user interface throttles the excitement somewhat and makes this less than a must-buy application.