Adobe Acrobat 9 review: Adobe Acrobat 9

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Adobe Acrobat 9 wraps video and animation into PDFs; supports geospatial mapping and 3D images; enhances 256-bit encryption; improves form management and redaction; takes Web page snapshots; PDF Portfolios better bundle complex packages; free online tie-ins extend the tools and allow remote collaboration.

The Bad Adobe Acrobat 9 isn't a cinch to master; tech support is pricey; PowerPoint tie-ins and geospatial mapping are only available in Pro Extended.

The Bottom Line This update should be worthwhile for security-minded businesses and creative firms. With Acrobat 9, Adobe brings new Web relevance to print-ready PDFs by enabling embedded video and animation. Forms, security, and overall ease of use are also enhanced.

CNET Editors' Choice Jun '08

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The introduction of Adobe Acrobat 9 document-creation software could do for PDFs what the Jazz Singer did for movies. For the first time, PDFs can "talk" via embedded Flash video and Shockwave animation. In turn, users of Version 9 of the nearly ubiquitous and free Acrobat Reader will be able to watch movies, play interactive games, and run applications baked into PDFs without opening a third-party media player.

Among the many new, dynamic features to justify a business purchase of Acrobat 9 include dynamic maps, enhanced 256-bit encryption, and improved forms. On top of it all, Adobe offers an online community at Acrobat.com that facilitates online collaboration so users can store documents and literally work on the same page at the same time.

There are three versions of Acrobat 9: Standard at $299 or $99 to upgrade, Pro for $449 or $159 to upgrade, and Pro Extended for $699 or $229 to upgrade. Pro Extended also comes with Adobe Presenter, which plugs into Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 for adding interactivity to presentations. This review covers the costliest application, Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. However, unless otherwise noted, the features mentioned here can be found in Standard or Pro editions.

Acrobat 9 requires at least a 1.3GHZ processor running Windows Vista or XP with Service Pack 2, with 256MB of RAM, screen resolution of 1,024x768, and 2.13GB of free hard-drive space at minimum. Adobe requires 512MB of RAM for Pro Extended and recommends video hardware acceleration.


Acrobat 9 features PDF Portfolios, which enable you to package video and animation alongside word-processing documents, spreadsheets, and image files.

Setup and interface
Installing Acrobat 9 Pro Extended took about 20 minutes on our Windows XP test computer. In our experience, uninstalling older versions of Acrobat took longer than adding the new application. The process was relatively smooth and unintrusive, although we did wind up with an Acrobat 9 icon on our desktop. During installation, Adobe offers the choice of opting into or rejecting its Product Improvement Program, which will send the company anonymous information about how you use the software. Although the company pledges anonymity, we were nevertheless glad that it presented the option not to participate upfront.

Features
This release of Acrobat makes PDFs more dynamic and packs in more new features than prior releases did. Although PDFs have been interactive for some time, such as with Version 8's support for Web-based forms, Acrobat 9 takes the print-ready document format into the so-called Web 2.0 era.

The Portable Document format is maturing from print-readiness to a venue for multimedia content. For the first time, PDFs will play movies via the free Acrobat Reader 9, set for a July release. Acrobat Pro Extended users can convert eight formats, including MOV and WMV files, to Flash content that can be embedded within PDFs alongside audio content and even 3D models. And developers can tweak layouts with Flex Builder 3 or Flash CS3.


An embedded Flash movie will appear in a PDF as a clickable box. With Acrobat Reader 9, you can click the movie to play it without installing or opening a third-party player.

Integrating with Acrobat 9 is Adobe Systems' beta release of the online community, Acrobat.com. It includes the Buzzword word processor with collaborative editing and commenting features as well as 5GB of file storage. Conversion of five documents to Portable Document Format, sadly, doesn't include those neat capabilities for embedding movies. But Acrobat.com's solid ConnectNow Web-conferencing and desktop-sharing tool enables chatting via text, video, and voice. The site also can host data from forms created in Acrobat software. Business users could opt to access documents at Acrobat online or handle collaboration via SharePoint workspaces, network folders, or WebDAV.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro

Part Number: 22020738 Released: Jun 25, 2008
Low Price: $399.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun 25, 2008
  • Category creativity application
  • Compatibility PC