ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0 User Reviews
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""Too good to be true," but it is true"
Version: ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0
My use for this program is converting plain PDFs into searchable PDFs. I have been able to easily convert dozens and dozens of texts (for research purposes)within a few days, and I can rely on near-perfect results, even for pages with multiple columns, multiple style and size fonts, and often hard to read 1800's textbook copies. Abbyy's OCR ability is at the pinnacle of OCR technology. I have found it to be more accurate than Google's scans of Google Book Search (btw an excellent 3,000,000 book library). It is unbelievable that this program comes at this price considering how much competitors charge (I bought it for $30, on sale, at the Abbyy website).
I hate to even mention a single con because the pros are amazing, but the one problem I have had (which is exceedingly rare and relevant only to unusual texts) is that the program will guess at very hard to read letters and put its guess into the final document, and without you even knowing where it has done this (nor being able to tell because it does such a good job of matching the document's original text). And you can't turn it off. The only problem I have had of this kind - out of the dozens of works I've converted - was in the conversion of an 1860's newspaper. As an example, it converted GETTYSBURG into OETTYSBURO. At a minimum the program should recognize that its result is a nonsense word and therefore not put it in. Also, for the program to alter words it is assuming that it will be better at figuring out words than the reader is. Sorry, but a human reader is much more adept at determining very hard to read words.
This is a fabulous program, exceeding all expectations. Abbyy's premier program, Abbyy FineReader (at $170), has I'm sure more options, but other than the one con I have, I haven't needed a single other option than is given by Transformer. I would note also that I have converted PDFs to Word docs with the best results I've ever seen. Table and column and picture recognition are terrific, and I never have to correct the program's choices (which is an option the user has). It transforms PDFs Word docs, Excel docs, PDF-A searchable docs, and RTF, TXT, and HTML docs. While I was not able to batch convert, which I think is because (but don't hold me to it because it has been too long for me to remember exactly) the program will not allow that if your computer is 64-bit, I AM able to right click up to 7 documents at a time by using the "open with" command so I can choose Abbyy Transformer, and convert all 7 of them at the same time (which takes about 2 hours). That number, 7 documents, is on a quad-core (8 logical core) laptop. That's the other thing - simplicity: (after you open your document with the program and wait 5 seconds for the program to load it) you hit the button "Convert" and that's it. A one-step process! Another Note: If you need other functions, you can choose the following (few examples) from the toolbar: have the program show on any page you select what areas are defined as text, image, and/or table; delete and/or draw in your own text or image or table areas on a selected page; re-number the areas if the program has put a complex page in what you feel is the wrong order; move areas from one region to another; rotate pages left or right so that the program can better interpret pages printed horizontally rather than vertically; redact areas of your choice; use stamps (which I don't know much about); use compression (the resulting size of searchable PDFs is relatively huge); and pick from over a hundred languages for the program to recognize. As Abbyy Transformer does its thing, it also creates a list of pages you might want to check due to complexities it has found (These are few and far between and your check of such a page will usually show the program handled the page correctly. I'm sure they are even fewer and farther between with clearly printed contemporary documents... mine have all been 1800s to early 1900s).Clarification: it was supposed to say "PDFs TO" the other kinds of documents. The program only converts PDFs.
Updated on Aug 30, 2012
Addition: The built in Help manual is comprehensive, very well organized, clearly written, and easy to follow.
"Best such program I have found for my needs"
Version: ABBYY PDF Transformer 3.0
Please see bottom-line summary below.
Somewhat elaborate installation, but I did not find it oppressive. Otherwise, this is the best of the four programs I have tried in the last two weeks to meet my need to convert academic articles and books.
To convert recent academic articles from pdf to Word this program is excellent. To convert scanned pdf documents to Word it ranges from good to excellent depending on the complexity of the original formatting. To convert scanned pdf book pages (normally two to a pdf page) it is very good. I found the fact that I was allowed to download the program both to my laptop and my desktop outstanding; many other programs of similar quality are not at all helpful here, a massive count against them in my opinion. Very intuitive and straightforward interface and operation. Quick help by telephone when I called to ask a question using the trial version.
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