Bold PDF tool from Nuance

Nuance's first free PDF reader is a strong entry to the growing field of zero-cost Adobe Reader alternatives.

Nuance's first free PDF reader is a strong entry to the growing field of zero-cost Adobe Reader alternatives. It has a reasonable set of features, including free document conversion via the Nuance Web site, and a crisp interface that should be accessible to anybody.

Nuance comes with two toolbars. The one at the top of the program is loaded with big icons, but avoids clutter by hiding most of the secondary tools behind drop-down arrows. The toolbar at the bottom contains PDF-relevant details, such page number, zoom percentage, and viewing format. It's bigger than in most competitors, though, and it looks good on larger screens. Editing is limited in the free version to highlighting, underlining, and crossing out, and although you can view comments that have been made, you can't add any of your own.

The document conversion feature, which jumps you from the Nuance PDF reader interface to the Nuance Web site, does a good job of converting to Microsoft Word's DOCX. That's a big win, however, lesser formats such as RTF don't convert as cleanly. Still, the successful free conversion to DOCX is a major coup for Nuance. There's also a lack of tabbed viewing, which means that each open PDF lives in a separate window, and Nuance uses about a third more RAM when running than competitor Foxit Reader does. Nonetheless, Nuance is much more nimble in use than Adobe Reader, and has enough features to appeal to casual PDF users.

Editors' note: This review has changed to reflect the now-functional conversion feature.

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments