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BeamReader PDF Viewer 1.2.0 Review

Skip this obsolete PDF viewer for newer Android apps.

BeamReader PDF Viewer is a free Android app that opens, displays, and saves PDF files and email attachments. It's compact and has most of the features you expect from a PDF reader, such as zoom, pinch-to-zoom, text wrap, bookmarks, and password protection. It's suitable for Android 2+ devices, but it doesn't seem to support Android 4 releases, and the developer seems to have stopped updating it. With excellent PDF utilities available from Adobe and others, and at the same price as BeamReader (free, as in no money) it's hard to see how it finds a place on your phone. But if you run Android 2 on an older device, it might be a good solution for more specific needs.

We installed and opened BeamReader PDF Viewer on a smartphone running Android 4.1.1. We browsed to a saved PDF and tapped it, and then selected BeamReader from the app manager. Our two-page document opened with the first page displaying a suite of navigation controls in the lower right corner. But some characters in the document didn't render correctly, and some didn't display at all. Anything in proximity to an exclamation point seemed to have issues, too, and onscreen motion was a bit bouncy, compared to the crisp motion of other PDF apps. We also opened our document in two popular (and free) Android PDF apps, Adobe Reader and Polaris Viewer. In each app, our document opened immediately with both pages fully displayed one above the other on our screen, with all characters and images rendered clearly.

In the end, we can't recommend BeamReader PDF Viewer for the latest Android devices. While BeamReader is more compact than the other tools, it's not significantly smaller, and its performance clearly lags behind newer apps that have probably driven BeamReader off its developer's priority list. As we noted, it may be a good choice for older devices, and it's certainly not difficult to install (or remove, for that matter). But for most Androids we suggest one of the newer, more capable PDF tools out there.

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