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Nitro Reader Blasts Off

1 Jun 2010 | | No Comment
Not just a free reader

Not just a free reader

These days, it’s fairly difficult to get excited when you hear of yet another free PDF reader. I mean seriously, how many times can you read the one PDF, right?

But whoa daddy – when it comes to Nitro Reader, you need to make sure you’re sitting down before you fire it up. It’s so jam-packed-full-of-features that just won’t cost you a cent – I can guarantee you’re going to make the switch – or at least come pretty darn close to it.

Unlike most bloggers who have given their reviews of the product,  I have been going into hand-to-hand combat with PDF for over 15 years. Making PDF products, using PDF products, pretty much anything you can think is possible to do with a PDF — I’ve done it. And after all this time, yes, after making the Nitro Reader drop and give me twenty.

It’s now my default PDF reader.

Nitro Reader is not just a Reader

Why would that be I hear you ask, or at least you should be asking? Well, it’s because the name itself is kind of misleading. You see it’s called the Nitro Reader – but, it’s actually far from Reader. It’s more a cut down version of the entire Nitro Professional product itself — we’re talking reading, writing, modifying, updating, the whole shebang.

The sort of thing that you would normally (and be happy to) pay a little something for.

And while it may have been possible to cobble together a variety of products on your computer – maybe some open source, maybe some free from other vendors to achieve a similar result. What’s the reality? Well, the software usually looks terrible and relies on your wizardry to make work together. And with respect to some of the new Nitro features, well, they just don’t exist at all.

Nitro PDF Reader
Nitro Reader Task Bar

I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time running you through tips and how-to’s here — I’ll give you my quick appraisal here and you can go download it and see what you think yourself:

1. It’s easy to use, you don’t need a manual. It doesn’t have a bevy of tiny buttons that require a magnifying glass or microscope.

2. The features that are free, really are free. They’re not free for 14-days, or free for 5 PDF files, or for 25 pages. A quick list of the features from the taskbar:

  • Add Note – Use this tool to add a sticky note to a PDF containing comments
  • Highlight Text – You can highlight text on the page in all colors
  • Type Text – Use this to indelibly type text directly onto the page
  • Stamp Signature – The Nitro team say you can use the  “Stamp Signature” to add your signature. Actually, this tool lets you stamp an image onto the page. It can be your signature, it can be a picture of your face, a picture of your dog, your mother-in-law, anything you want. But shhhh! Don’t tell them I told you.
  • Create From File – Select a file, convert it to PDF and load into the Reader.
  • Extract Text – Well, um, surprise surprise, it extracts the contents into a text file for reuse.
  • Extract Images – Rips out all of the images within the file into a folder for reuse. Great for readers of “Men’s Magazine’s”.
  • Reset Forms – Clears all the form field values so you can start from scratch.

3. You can actually fill in and save PDF forms. This is not possible in Adobe Reader at present. In fact, if you want to do this using Adobe’s products, you must be ready to fork out the cashola for Acrobat Standard or in some cases Adobe LiveCycle. If that’s the path you take, I hope you have deep pockets — made of fire retardant material.

Nitro Reader Form Fields
Form Fields That Save

4. As I mentioned previously, we’re not dealing with just a reader here — converting to PDF is just as easy as dragging a document onto the Nitro Reader icon. PDF viewing, form filling, markup and conversion? Yes. And more.

Nitro Reader Drag and Drop Conversion
Drag and Drop Conversion

But why?

Why have Nitro released a free PDF reader that not only competes with Adobe Reader but blows it out of the water?

It’s very simple. Nitro has another product called Nitro PDF Professional which is not free, but competes with Adobe Acrobat for professional PDF users. Nitro is betting that once you’ve tried out the 100%  free Nitro Reader then you’ll be willing to upgrade to the Professional version at a later date when you need to perform more advanced PDF tasks.

So there you have it, Nitro Reader has arrived and Adobe Reader looks rather behind-the-times in comparison.

Who knows where this will end — but one thing is for sure — the game has changed and Nitro is leading the charge.

FULL DISCLOSURE: While I am an investor in Nitro PDF (among others), this review is objective. My first experience with the Nitro Reader was part of the private beta review on May 12, 2010.

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