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Soda brings 3D to PDF readers

Soda 3D Reader is Lulu Software's answer to Adobe Reader. While it may not be the most powerful Adobe alternative out there, it does have some nice features and unique 3D functionality that make it worth a look.

Soda 3D Reader is Lulu Software's answer to Adobe Reader. While it may not be the most powerful Adobe alternative out there, it does have some nice features and unique 3D functionality that make it worth a look.

The program's interface is clean and inviting, with ribbon-style navigation that should be familiar to Microsoft Office 2010 users. The tabs at the top act as your main menu, with submenus that open up beneath them as you click. And along the left, there's a page preview pane, if you choose to enable it. The program's controls are intuitive, and overall it performs impressively, as it opens up and zips around PDF files fairly quickly.

When you're viewing PDF files, Soda has you covered. It does the basics like zoom, full-screen, continuous view, and multiple-page view very well. But its biggest selling point is obviously its unique 3D View option. This patent-pending technology presents PDF files like a book, allowing you to grab and manipulate a page just as you might in the physical world. While this may not be a particularly useful feature, it does add some visual flavor to what might otherwise be a drab PDF file. Plus, when viewing digital comic books (Soda can open CBR and CBZ files as well), this 3D view makes for a uniquely immersive experience.

But Soda 3D Reader doesn't stop at viewing PDF files, it also creates them. Just hit the Create PDF tab at the top, and you'll see a row of buttons that lets you create from a variety of file types, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Plus, it can plug into your browsers and Microsoft Office so you can create directly from those programs.

Unfortunately, Soda cannot edit or otherwise annotate PDF files. Clicking on any of these tools brings up an upgrade window, prompting you to step up to one of Soda's premium paid options. This puts Soda 3D Reader at a significant disadvantage when compared with some other free readers out there, namely Nitro.

Overall, we think Soda 3D Reader is a solid offering that's a great alternative to Adobe Reader. It's fast and easy to use, plus it has a nifty 3D View and can create PDF files. However, it cannot edit or annotate PDF files, which could be a deal-breaker for many.

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