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PDFs on Android

Adobe's PDF Reader predictably lets Android owners quickly open PDFs that they've downloaded from a browser or have received in e-mail attachments.

Adobe's PDF Reader predictably lets Android owners quickly open PDFs that they've downloaded from a browser or have received in e-mail attachments. It packs in multitouch gestures for zooming, landscape orientation, and a tool that will resize the text on wide documents to fit your phone's narrow screen. We found it to work quite well, even on large files. A 12MB, picture-rich PDF file we had downloaded in Android's stock browser opened up in just four seconds and zipped around like butter on a hot pan. Part of the reason for that is that the software only renders around four pages of a long document at a time, and will load in the rest when you stop. This would make it difficult to pinpoint a specific part of a document by sight, but for most other reading tasks it does just fine.

The real downer is the lag that occurs when zooming, as it takes the software a second or two to rerender the text and images. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be annoying when trying to peruse a large document that requires a lot of zooming around; media-rich PDFs seemed to aggravate this.

Adobe Reader is a bit heavy for an app of this type. By comparison, the free version of QuickOffice's PDF reader that comes preinstalled on the Nexus One is just 36KB. Adobe's app also requires Android 2.1 or higher, which means users without a Droid, Nexus One, Eris, or the other handful of 2.1 devices will be left in the dust. This may come as bad news to those of you with what Google's Android chief Andy Rubin is calling "legacy" handsets.

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