Adobe has long been the market leader in PDF applications because of its pioneering work with the PDF format itself. Over the years, it has been developed for all major OS platforms and given a slew of features that make it stand out from the crowd.
The challenge has always been that developing a robust PDF editor requires a massive amount of funding, to begin with, not only to develop the product but even for the initial research into available technologies or new and revolutionary methods and design processes that lead up to the development stage. Although it has been admittedly slow, the PDF landscape is slowly changing to accommodate newer players who have developed products that are more lightweight, more functional, faster, and better.
Among the best of these is PDFelement from Wondershare, a renowned creator of applications for video editing, mobile data management, and other important software categories. When it comes to the best PDF editor for you, PDFelement certainly gives Adobe Acrobat a run for its money. Several features make it stand out as a better product, while Adobe still retains the advantage in many areas. Let’s explore some of the key factors that will ultimately decide which product is better for you. Keep in mind that both utilities are available for Windows and Mac and both are robust PDF editors in their own right.
This has been one of the main pain points with Adobe’s PDF products. While the subscription license model offers a more reasonable price band for the Standard and Pro versions, the standalone, one-time price of up to $450 per user is quite prohibitive to smaller businesses and individual entrepreneurs with significant PDF workflows to manage on a daily basis. With its much more affordable pricing that starts at $6.99 a month per user compared to the nearly double $12.99 a month per user for Adobe’s standard DC subscription, it clearly has a pricing advantage over the market dominator. For the Pro version, PDFelement offers Windows and Mac versions at just $9.99 a month per user compared to a 50% premium for Pro DC, or $14.99 a month per user. For a one-time license, PDFelement costs $69 for the Standard and $119 for the Pro version. You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for a robust PDF editor – that’s the point PDFelement keeps proving over and over to its fast-growing user base.
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Convenience and Ease-of-Use (User Interface and User Experience)
Ease-of-use is where PDFelement truly shines. It has been designed with user experience and convenience getting the utmost priority, and that’s obvious once you get hands-on experience with this PDF editor. The various controls have a super-clean look, they’re divided into clear modules, the UI is easy to familiarize yourself with whether you use it on a desktop or a mobile device, and the overall experience is one of intuitive behavior. In contrast, Adobe Acrobat has a staid look that has barely evolved over the years.
The new look of the DC version is admittedly a lot better because it’s more organized, but it’s still not intuitive enough to hit the ground running when you’re a new user. Adobe has the advantage of being ubiquitous around offices all over the world so familiarity is more a matter of habit by the user rather than any real intuitive nature of the UI or the UX.
Features and Functionality
For this part, we’ll go into a little more detail because, although you’ll see that the bulk of features are very similar between the two products, PDFelement has a slight edge in terms of speed and agility, which is crucial to maintaining and enhancing your productivity at work.
These two products are among the top PDF editors for Windows and Mac; there’s no doubt about that. In terms of editing features, you’ll be able to do anything with PDFelement that you can in Adobe Acrobat. That includes automatic font recognition to keep your fonts intact during editing, snap-to-grid alignment when moving content, the ability to edit or replace images, link and object editing, page cropping, Bates numbering, watermarking, adding headers/footers, etc. Although they’re a perfect match, features-wise, you’ll see immediately that PDFelement has more user-friendly toolbars and panels, all of which focus on the element at hand. For example, if you’re editing text, you’ll only see text editing tools, including selection tools, font properties, and settings for other attributes.
By contrast, Adobe just puts everything on your screen and lets you figure out what you need and what you don’t. That’s the underlying characteristic you’ll see with most of the features in PDFelement that is sorely missing from the Adobe Acrobat interface. One of the major differences here is that the iOS and Android apps from Adobe aren’t PDF editors unless you’re willing to upgrade with an in-app purchase; on the contrary, PDFelement offers editing on iOS and Android without a subscription, although it is recommended that you purchase a desktop license to create a seamless cross-platform experience and access to advanced features
2. Annotations and Commenting
The tools for reviewing and marking up a PDF document are also very similar but, again, you will see that intuitiveness in PDFelement that Acrobat lacks. Annotating PDFs with PDFelement is a delightful experience, not only because of the available tools but the behavior of these tools and how easy it is to add them to your document. Whether it’s a simple circle to highlight something or a series of notes to make changes to the content, annotations really come to life on the PDFelement interface. There’s no doubt that Adobe Acrobat’s annotation tools are equally comprehensive, but it’s more of pure functionality than experience, which is an important differentiator.
3. Conversion To and From Other Formats
PDFelement supports a wide range of formats when converting from PDF, and you can create PDFs from virtually any document format. You can also combine multiple file types into a single PDF, which is very useful when compiling a document from disparate sources like Word, Excel, HTML, and so on. The conversion speed is also noticeably faster than in Acrobat, which is accented when dealing with large files consisting of hundreds of pages. The clincher is the accuracy of the content’s layout and other attributes when converting to and from PDF. In PDFelement, you don’t have to worry about text misalignment, extra line breaks, odd spacing, and other problems that are all too familiar to Acrobat users. In addition, certain PDF formats won’t work with older versions of Adobe’s PDF editor, which means you’ll need to be on DC or Pro DC for archived documents to be compatible.
4. Security and e-Signing
Whether you’re talking about password-encryption, digital security, legally binding digital signatures, redaction tools to maintain confidentiality, or watermarking documents for copyright protection, both software applications have robust suites of tools to handle the job. The strongest encryption standards are used by both PDF editors, and both have impressive toolkits in their arsenal to protect information and secure it from unauthorized access. Secure sharing options further enhance the security profile of your document workflow.
5. Forms and OCR
This is a crucial area for Pro users who regularly deal with manual or non-editable digital forms. PDFelement and Adobe Acrobat both have advanced form-handling capabilities, such as form conversion and data export, PDFelement goes a step further with features like automatic form recognition and data extraction. The function is highly accurate, and you can literally extract thousands upon thousands of data bits from hundreds of documents in a very short time.
Speed and accuracy can also be seen in the OCR plugin for PDFelement, which allows scanned PDF documents to be converted to files that are indexable and fully editable. Conversion accuracy is known to be very high in PDFelement 7 Pro, more so than in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC when it comes to certain types of complex content layouts and compositions.
6. Batch Processes
Batch processing of PDFs is another key area for businesses, and both PDF products (Pro versions) are more than capable of handling large workflow volumes. There’s very little difference here in terms of options, but you’ll notice that PDFelement works a little better and faster when dealing with batches containing large PDF files, especially when they have complex layouts containing text, objects, links, images, and other content elements.
PDFelement has a clear advantage here because of the free PDF editor apps for iOS and Android. Adobe only has the Reader option on mobile unless you upgrade to a paid subscription. PDFelement for mobile lets you edit, annotate, sign, fill forms, and do a lot of other day-to-day PDF tasks without forcing you to pay a monthly fee or buy a perpetual license. The app is free to use with no in-app purchases or annoying notifications. The only downside is that it only works with native PDF files, so you can’t import scanned, image-based documents or raster PDFs. Of course, you can definitely create from other formats or combine PDFs, but all of them have to be native PDF files in order to be editable.
Since PDFelement is a much younger product, Wondershare focuses a lot of energy on making sure that every customer’s concerns are addressed promptly and to their utmost satisfaction. The downside is that it only offers email support, which means you’ll have to wait a few hours before your issue is resolved. However, the response time is fairly quick, and the most common issues can be solved in a matter of hours.
The decision to choose one PDF editor over the other is purely yours, naturally; however, unless you’re a militant follower of Adobe and its range of other products, you’ll be willing to give PDFelement a try, if only to see if the advantages highlighted in this article are actually true! The good part is that the free trial version is not limited to a specific time period, unlike Acrobat, which locks down after 7 days of use from the date a new user downloads it. You’ll have the PDFelement watermarks appear on edited and converted documents, but that’s meant as a deterrent to product misuse rather than to block any crucial functionality. Overall, PDFelement scores high in several areas and manages to come out on top of Adobe Acrobat on pricing, feature intuitiveness, speed, accuracy, and cross-platform support for editing and other functions.
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