Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Adobe Systems Acrobat 9 Pro Extended
PDFs just got Flashier...
- Flash video integration, multimedia PowerPoint presentations, extensive Portfolio options, user-friendly interface
- Very expensive
Pro Extended is a significant step forward for Adobe's Acrobat software that will transform the PDF as we know it. If you want your business to stand out from the pack with innovative, eye-catching media, you really can't afford to pass up this upgrade. (Shame about the price though.)
Price$ 995.00 (AUD)
Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is the king of Adobe's document-creation suites. It provides a wealth of advanced tools and features geared towards user interaction and the seamless integration of multimedia, including Flash video. At $995, it is more than twice the price of the standard Acrobat 9 edition, which is a pretty drastic mark-up in anyone's book. Fortunately, after a few hours of hands-on experience, it swiftly becomes evident that the improvements are worth the extra busload of pennies — especially for businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve.
The Pro Extended package consists of Adobe Presenter, Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES, Adobe 3D Reviewer and Adobe 3D Capture Utility for UNIX. Some of the features exclusive to Acrobat 9 Pro Extended include the ability to create interactive PowerPoint presentations (complete with videos, voice-overs and quizzes), converting geospatial files into interactive PDF maps (with metadata and coordinates retained), converting videos into FLV files for PDF playback, and improved integration of 3-D objects. As is plainly obvious, the emphasis is firmly on the creation of interactive multimedia — a must for any emerging business hoping to catch the reader's eye.
In addition to the above goodies, the program comes with all of the features found in Acrobat 9 Standard (RRP: $425) and Acrobat 9 Pro (RRP: $639), including the ability to combine multiple files into a single interactive PDF portfolio, creating and tracking electronic PDF forms, access to Acrobat.com for storing and sharing files, 256-bit RC4 encryption, and improved page-capturing options (particularly when it comes to online media). Without any further ado, let's take a look at some of the product highlights.
One of the biggest selling points of Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is undoubtedly the integration of Adobe Flash into PDFs. With a simple mouse click, readers can now watch videos or animations embedded within a PDF file, thus offering them a greater level of interactivity as well as more detailed information. As you'd expect, inserting a video into a PDF is as easy as adding an image, with the option to show any frame of your choosing to depict the embedded file. This adds a whole new level of immersion to the PDF format and will be a boon to any business hoping to grab a client's attention. The difference this makes to PDFs, and people's perception of them, really can't be overstated enough.
The integration of video and related media also extends to PowerPoint, via Adobe Presenter. This allows you to add multimedia elements to your presentations and slideshows; something that is bound to improve PowerPoint's stuffy and clinical reputation. Naturally, the PowerPoint file can be converted to PDF, with all audio/visual elements retained.
Another useful addition to Pro Extended, which also appears in the cheaper versions, is the Portfolio tool. In essence, it allows you to create a suite of related files and documents into one interactive portfolio, complete with its own intro screen. This is particularly useful when it comes to e-mailing content — instead of sending a bunch of separate attachments, you can combine everything into a single, interactive document. Creating portfolios is a relatively painless affair: simply drag and drop the files you want and select from a range of presentation options (including animated, revolving icons for each section). Rather spiffily, recipients only need Adobe Reader installed on their computers to access a portfolio file, which means you aren't restricted to other Pro Extended users.
For business organisations with lots of members or a large cliental, the PDF form options in Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES will be greatly appreciated. These allow you to create custom XML forms from scratch that can be managed and tracked after mail-out, alerting you when forms have been completed and by which recipients. This information can then be quickly converted into statistical data for presentation or analysis. As with the standard edition of Acrobat 9, you can also convert Word or Excel forms to PDF, with each field of the form automatically retained. (You can even scan in paper documents, thus saving you the trouble of recreating old forms for electronic distribution.)
We experienced no problems with the new user interface, which remains straightforward and cleanly assembled, especially when it comes to basic tasks. Still, it would have been nice if the sales package had included a printed manual — something that the sub-$1000 price tag could easily have covered. The program is also pretty chunky, requiring 2.7GB of free disk space.
All up, Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is a significant evolution that provides new and exciting ways for readers to experience PDFs. If you're a business professional who wants to stay on the cutting edge of your industry, then this is an essential and worthy upgrade.
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