PDF is the most popular format for exchanging documents online, and so every PC needs the ability to view PDF files. This doesn't mean you have to install Adobe Reader, though: there are many alternatives that are faster, lighter on resources, and have more features. And Nuance PDF Reader is a perfect example.

The program's advantages start immediately. Our PDF Reader 9 folder requires 135MB of hard drive space, with plenty of support files to add; Nuance PDF Reader is a relatively slimline 44MB. Its reduced size seemed to improve performance, with documents loading noticeably more quickly on our test PC.

You get more interesting PDF manipulation features, too. Simple annotation options include the ability to highlight, cross out or underline selected text, for instance. The program will let you both fill out and save PDF forms. Corporate types will appreciate the Microsoft SharePoint integration, that makes it easy to access and open files stored in your Repository. And there's even the option to convert PDF files to Word, Excel, Or RTF format, although this isn't directly built in to the program. Instead you must upload your file to Nuance, who will email you the results.

Best of all, you don't have to sacrifice anything to get these extra features. Nuance PDF Reader fully supports all PDF standards up to and including the latest, 1.7, so the program should be able to handle exactly the same files as Adobe Reader.

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Nuance PDF Reader is fast, lightweight, and full of useful extras. The excellent form handling is especially useful - if you regularly work with PDF forms then give this a try