Gadget news
Adobe Express (2024) review
7:42 pm | April 16, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Adobe Express might not have the name recognition of Photoshop or Illustrator, but when it comes to graphic design, it’s a strong tool with a unique set of skills. It’s a lot less complex than many in the Creative Cloud toolbox, and much more relaxed in its interface and experience. 

It’s part free logo maker, part graphic design software, part video maker. Like Canva, its closest competitor, Express is an all-in-one content marketing hub for creating social media content, flyers, and other visual assets. 

Last time we tested out the tool, we were impressed - but a lot’s changed in the content creation game. Now, we’re reviewing the latest version, which has seen major improvements and, because it’s Adobe, plenty of AI tools to sink your teeth into. 

Adobe Express: Pricing & plans

Adobe Express during our review

A well-organised interface with detailed menus, sidebars and templates (Image credit: Adobe)
  • The free option is most welcome and quite extensive when you look into it. Express is included in most of Adobe packages, or as a standalone subscription. 

Adobe Express is free - well, mostly. Much like Canva, there are loads of features on offer. But certain assets, elements, and other options are locked behind a paywall. 

Still, there is a lot you can do for free and it’s a great way to explore how Adobe Express would work for you. If you do opt for a subscription, it’s available for $9.99 a month, or $99.99 a year. Express is also bundled into Adobe Creative Cloud packages as standard - so you may already have access to it.  

  • Pricing & plans: 4.5/5

Adobe Express: What is It?

Adobe Express during our review

Many tools are available at your disposal, whether you’re working on an image or video (Image credit: Adobe)
  • An ideal service if you’re looking to quickly create various projects based off of templates, but nothing’s stopping you from starting with a blank canvas should you prefer. The social media scheduling could prove to be a powerful asset.

Adobe Express is a service designed to help you create artwork, posts for social media, marketing, documents, and video editing. This is a vast canvas, but thankfully, the interface is well designed and easy to understand.

Top of the page is a menu guiding you to the above mentioned options. To the left is a sidebar from which you can access any previously created project via ‘Your Stuff’, set up your own ‘Brand’ (for paying customers only), ‘Explore' a vast library of templates which you can use and customise at will (some are considered premium only - anything with a purple crown lower right of the thumbnail isn’t free), ‘Schedule’ lets you post your artwork directly to social media, and ‘Learn’ provides tutorials to help you understand the workings of this service.

With the built-in social media management tools and content marketing tools, this is a much better feature-set than we had before. The scheduling feature alone should attract many potential new customers. You can connect to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok. Only one account of each is available for free, but those who pay can have up to 3. Essentially, with it, Adobe Express can be your social media creative hub. 

Adobe Express: Tools

Adobe Express during our review

Sadly, the background remover is only free ‘for a limited time’ - watch this space (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Very well-organised interface with a surprisingly good number of tools whether you’re working on an image or making a short video. 

Exploring Adobe Express now is like working with an entirely new service.  Everything has been expanded, from the options in the Home section, to the available editing tools for each category.

We’ve already explored some of the basic features in our previous review, so we thought we’d chat about other areas we hadn’t touched on, or simply didn’t exist back then. One thing worth noting though, previously you could use a basic background remover tool (fine tuning was a premium feature). Now it seems the background remover is only free “for a limited time”, which is obviously a downside. 

On a more positive note, let’s check out the editing features. You can begin with a blank canvas or choose from a wide gamut of templates. All editing tools are on the left, while tutorials can be found on the right, with the central section devoted to your project.

Click on an object or layer to reveal all available tools for it. You can also group objects together to make it easier to move them around or edit them in one go.

Adobe Express during our review

Express makes it easy to create videos for social media platforms (Image credit: Adobe)

When it comes to videos, even though you can only hook up to TikTok on the ‘Schedule’ side of things , templates for YouTube videos (ie, those in the 16:9 aspect ratio with 1920x1080 pixels) are also available.

All the photos and videos you can browse through in the Media menu can be used in your project, and you’re free to upload your own clips. You’re even allowed to use ‘premium’ media in your video, but you won’t be able to download the finished product unless you pay to subscribe, or replace them with free alternatives instead.

As you’d expect, clips can be moved around and trimmed, but what surprised us for what’s supposed to be a simple video editor, was the ability to work with multiple layers of video, turning this casual online video editor into a surprisingly advanced one. Stacked clips will then also appear as thumbnails to the right of your project, which you can reorder to make sure the right one is always on top and visible, for instance.

We found Adobe Express to be very capable, whatever type of project we were working on. If you’ve used these kinds of services before, you’ll find this one easy to master, intuitive, and surprisingly versatile.

  • Tools: 4/5

Adobe Express: Firefly AI

Adobe Express during our review

Have fun with computer-generated images based on your text input (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Create images, insert objects in an existing image, create templates and font styles, all based on text input.

As with most Adobe products, Firefly AI has made its way to Express. Heavily promoted on the homepage, it also has its own dedicated menu along the ribbon. Here, you can create images from scratch (Text to Image), add objects to an existing photo (Generative Fill), create brand new editable templates (Text to Template), and what has to be our favourite: create brand new Text Effects based on a brief description. 

As with everything to do with Generative AI, your mileage will vary. When it comes to AI tools, it’s well-implemented - as you’d expect, given it’s a star feature in the likes of Photoshop. However, we’d like to see improvements here, as we had a hard time getting ‘Generative Fill’ to properly work at times. 

Still, when the AI comes through, you’re given four options, with the freedom to generate additional ones if you’re not happy with the output. You have a handful of different styles to choose from, and of course you can go back to the text input and alter it until you’re happy with what you’re getting. You can spend a lot of time playing around with various descriptions to see what the software will come up with or fine-tuning an artistic vision. It’s a lot of fun. 

  • Firefly AI: 4/5

Adobe Creative Cloud: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Express during our review

Text effects are easy to use, and can be very visually striking (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You’re looking for a quick and versatile way to create new images, videos, and documents, to be used either online or printed. You like stuff that’s free, and might be tempted to pay for the premium content.

Don't buy it if...

You don’t like the idea of a helping hand, and would rather work through your creativity without being guided with templates and tutorials.

Adobe Dreamweaver (2024) review
8:01 pm | March 27, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Long ago, when the internet was young, two juggernauts fought for control of the website creation market: Macromedia’s Dreamweaver and GoLive’s Cyberstudio. 

How times have changed. Adobe acquired the latter in 1999, and the former in 2005. But with alternative web builders sprouting up all over the place these days, is Dreamweaver still the best web design software on the market, and is it still relevant to today’s online world? We tested it to find out.  

Adobe Dreamweaver: Pricing & plans

  • We appreciate that you can subscribe to Dreamweaver on its own, although the full (and expensive) package is still better value considering what you get.

As with most professional Adobe products, Dreamweaver is available as both a standalone subscription or as part of the Creative Cloud All Apps package. Both subscriptions offer three ways to pay: annual, monthly, and the contract-style annual paid monthly plan.

The advantage of getting the full Creative Cloud package is you can then design assets in packages such as Illustrator or Photoshop, and easily import them into your webpages, but at that cost, it’s really something only professional creatives can justify. You can try either option free for seven days. 

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5

Adobe Dreamweaver: Updates

Adobe Dreamweaver during our test and review process

You can start your journey by choosing from one of a handful of simple templates (Image credit: Adobe )
  • An excellent tool that has only received minor updates in years, doesn’t inspire confidence for its long term future.

We last took a look at Dreamweaver in 2020, and we would’ve expected some major changes and improvements since then, however, the last release was version 21.3 in June 2022 which mostly contained library updates and bug fixes. Before that, version 21.2 brought in support for Apple Silicon - a very welcome update for Mac users, granted, but not one that introduced new features. We have to go all the way back to October 2020 for the last major revision, version 21.0.

All this to say, that despite the possibility of renting this app on its own (not all Adobe apps have that privilege, which means Dreamweaver is seen by Adobe as an important part of its arsenal), the lack of major updates in years, in an ever evolving market, does not give the right reassurance.

Still, this is a major piece of software if you’re serious about wanting to design websites without having to rely on oh-so-samey templates from the plethora of website builders available today. 

  • Updates: 2.5/5

Adobe Dreamweaver: Website design

Adobe Dreamweaver during our test and review process

A sample code from one of those simple templates (Image credit: Adobe )
  • This software is incredibly flexible and versatile giving you the power to create whatever page you please… as long as you can read and understand the code that runs it.

The first thing to be aware of is this is not software for novices. Yes Adobe’s Creative Cloud website hosts a large number of tutorials, to help you understand the app’s inner workings, even if some haven’t been updated in years - another hint that the app hasn’t evolved much in a while, but the software’s features are vast and complex, starting with being able to work with the basics such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript, and including more modern functionalities, such as Bootstrap. 

It should be clear that unlike other website builders that do the whole thing for you, you need some knowledge of the web’s inner workings before you can start. The advantage is that Dreamweaver can help you create much more optimised code than other services who do it all for you, leading to faster, more responsive sites. It might not feel like this is an important facet of website creation these days as more and more people have access to faster connections and powerful machines, but a page that loads fast and doesn’t unnecessarily eat up your visitor’s power should still be viewed as a valuable asset, especially since an increasing number do so from a mobile device.

Adobe Dreamweaver during our test and review process

Dreamweaver can offer you useful helping tips that appear as you work on your project (Image credit: Adobe )

You’ll find a handful of templates available, although these are very bare bones if you’re used to those from other services. Nevertheless, they are most welcome and much more useful than starting with a blank page.

You’ll also see occasional tips popping up now and again to help you along the creation process, showing that although you do need some knowledge to use this app, Dreamweaver does go out of its way to do its best to help you.

Dreamweaver is adept at creating static and responsive web pages, whatever suits the type of visitor you’re after. If you select the former, you then have the ability of redirecting them to different pages depending on the screen size they’re using. Flexibility is key with Dreamweaver.

  • Website design: 4.5/5

Adobe Dreamweaver: Interface

Adobe Dreamweaver during our test and review process

The interface is very versatile although the best option is often ‘split view’ so you can work on the code while seeing the results in real time (Image credit: Adobe )
  • A good and flexible interface, giving you all the tools you need within easy reach.

The interface can be customised to some degree. The thin sidebar on the left grants you access to common commands, such as opening documents, file management and comment options, and you’re free to add or remove menus from it that suit your workflow. On the right is where you manage your files and libraries.

The central and main part of the interface is dedicated to your project, which you can view either purely as source code, a rendered preview of the page you’re building, or a little of both.

You’ll quickly find that working with the code is essential (hence your need to know and understand the net’s various languages). Dreamweaver will try to ease your job in many ways: highlight some text in the preview or the code section for instance, and the same section will be highlighted in the other, helping you find what you need to change quickly. Code hints is another great tool: start typing and Dreamweaver will offer you various options to help you complete a command more quickly, which also has the added benefit of limiting typos.

There’s a lot to love with Dreamweaver, from the sheer creative freedom that’s on offer to the numerous ways the interface is designed to help you. It’s just a shame nothing radical has changed in years, making us wonder just how much longer will Adobe support this crucial piece of software.

  • Interface: 4.5/5

Adobe Dreamweaver: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Dreamweaver during our test and review process

If you feel lost, Adobe’s Creative Cloud website offers you a good number of tutorials (Image credit: Adobe )

Buy it if...

You don’t like to rely on templates from automatic website builders, you’d prefer designing unique websites, and have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the languages that power the web.

Don't buy it if...

You’d rather some other service did all or most of the work for you, or you'd rather avoid a subscription package. 

Adobe Character Animator (2024) review
7:56 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: | Comments: Off

Adobe Character Animator is a very simple-to-use 2D motion-capture animator. Sounds great, and when we last reviewed the tool, we were quite impressed by the way it let us create and animate digital 2D characters with the help of your webcam. 

We wanted to see how the software, useful for marketing teams, content creators, and animators just creating content for fun, holds up in 2024. 

Adobe Character Animator: Pricing & plans

  • The basic model is free, and you can only get ‘Pro’ if you subscribe to the full Adobe Creative Cloud package.

Considering the fact this is an Adobe product, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn this app has two versions: Starter, which is free to use, and Pro, which is part of the Creative Cloud subscription. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be predominantly focussing on the Starter version, as it’s the most accessible.

Unsurprisingly, we found the tools in the free version very limited compared to Character Animator Pro. But you can create basic and fun animations, and see how the software works without paying anything, which is always welcome. 

If you’re not already subscribed to Creative Cloud, you can try Pro free for seven days, after which you’ll begin a subscription. And unlike a lot of Adobe products, such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro, this animation app is only available through the Creative Cloud subscription package - and that’s disappointing to see. 

Creative Cloud All Apps plans are available on an annual, monthly, and annual billed monthly (effectively a 12-month contract) basis. The yearly contract can be cancelled within 14 days should you change your mind.

  • Pricing & plans: 3/5 

Adobe Character Animator Starter: How it works

Adobe Character Animator during our review process

Choose from over 30 default puppets (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A very simple to use, simplistic 2D animation with fairly good automatic lip-syncing and head movements mirroring, along with a bunch of fun additional animations you can add anywhere on your timeline.

Adobe’s Character Animator is a 2D animation package which comes with a bunch of pre-designed digital puppets. If you’re not excited by the models on offer, click on ‘See More’, to be taken to a webpage where you can browse through all available packs and download the ones you’re interested in. Again, all for free. It’s a shame though that once imported, your new puppets don’t appear in the app’s default list.

Once you’ve chosen a puppet, you get to animate it. Your first step is to deliver your speech. You can do it live via your webcam and your computer’s microphone, or import one pre-recorded. If you do the former, your puppet will mimic your head, eyebrow and eye movements, and lip sync to what you say on the fly. If the audio’s pre-recorded, you get the option to ‘Record Face’ to add all of that as the audio is playing (although the lip syncing will be primarily based on the recording). It’s far from the intricate seamless Animoji animations you’ll find on your latest iPhone, but it’s good enough for some casual fun.

Adobe Character Animator during our review process

Many triggers found on the right are unique for each puppet (Image credit: Adobe)

After that, you’re off to the ‘Editing’ section. Editing is a bit of a generous term. Don’t be expecting anything at the level of the best video editing software for beginners, let alone the best video editing software overall. Premiere Pro, or even Adobe Express, this is not, as it’s not about cutting clips and building an edit. OK, yes, you can trim the start and end of your recording (if you can call that editing), but the bulk of the work consists of inserting additional motion to your puppet, known as ‘Triggers’.

Don’t misunderstand: this is actually quite fun and your available triggers will differ depending on your chosen puppet, but if you’re looking for more intricate ‘proper’ editing, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

These additional ‘triggers’ can be found on the right hand side of the interface. You add them by dragging them to the timeline. They will appear as icons above your recording. You can move them to wherever you please, and also lengthen and shorten their duration. All the movements we played with were integrated seamlessly into the animation, and it’s a great way to bring your puppet to life.

Finally, when you’re finished, it’s time to export your work. Adobe Character Animator will offer you three types of .mp4 files: High Quality (by default), Medium and Low, which you’ll then be free to share however you please.

  • How it works: 4/5 

Adobe Character Animator: New features

Adobe Character Animator during our review process

For new 2024: the ability to add custom backgrounds to your projects (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Barely anything new for 2024, but the one feature for Starter users is a welcome one: being able to use any image as a background.

The last big update to Character Animator dropped in August 2023 - a few months after our initial review - with a February 2024 update fixing stability issues. We didn’t see a lot of differences in 2024’s Character Animator compared to when we last tested out the Starter version of the app. However, there is at least one welcome addition: custom backgrounds.

Before this tool came along, you were restricted to the handful of cartoon backgrounds bundled with the app. Now, the sky’s the limit and any photo you’ve taken, or artwork you’ve made (or anything you’ve found on the web), can be used as a background for your project. Of course, these custom backgrounds will be images, not video, but it’s much better to have your own unique backdrop than a handful of generic ones. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s new for ‘Starter’ users.

Adobe Character Animator during our review process

The Pro features are more intricate, but require a subscription (Image credit: Adobe)

Pro subscribers have a few more new tools, but the ‘professional’ side of the app has always been more feature-rich anyway. You could, for instance, create your own puppets using layered Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator documents, or apps like Puppet Maker or Characteriser. Best of all, you could add multiple characters in a scene, not just play with a single puppet as with ‘Starter’, and the interface is much more intricate. For 2024, you’ve got a couple of new advanced tools to use - editable replays for modifying the timings, and the ability to select takes within or in overlapping work areas. 

Overall, Adobe Character Animator is a smart, simple animation app that, even at the free level, lets you learn the ropes of 2D digital puppeteering. We found it incredibly easy to use - sometimes bordering on the basic, but always welcoming to beginners and professionals. If you are serious about producing content with the software, you’ll need a Pro subscription. Whether that offers value for money, and it would’ve been nice to see the option of a standalone subscription for the app. But in a sense, this is like the Adobe Express of animation software. Cheerful, easy to use, and highly accessible.  

  • New features: 2/5 

Adobe Character Animator: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Character Animator during our review process

You can download extra puppets from Adobe’s dedicated webpage  (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You like having fun with simple animated 2D puppets that can lip-sync to your audio file or live recording.

Don't buy it if...

You’re an animator who would prefer having more advanced editing options.

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Adobe Animate (2024) review
5:12 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

 We were pretty impressed with Adobe Animate when we looked at the animation app just over a year ago. It's a clever repurposing of Macromedia’s defunct Flash technology, turning it into a useful and fun 2D animation tool. Has a year brought in any new and interesting advances? We put the latest version of the animation software to the test.  

Adobe Animate: Pricing & plans

  • Expensive software to rent on its own, but it you already subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, then you essentially get it for free.

As with most of Adobe’s professional apps, Animate is available through either a standalone subscription or as part of Creative Cloud All Apps. Subscriptions are available as annual, monthly, or annual billed monthly (contract) plans. 

If you use three or more different Adobe apps, then the Creative Cloud option will provide a bit more value for money here, as it bundles Animate alongside other top tools like Photoshop, After Effects. and Premiere Pro.  There is no free trial of Animate, but you can cancel your subscription anytime within the first 14 days to get a full refund.

We’ve explored the different costs and discounts in our guide Download Animate: How to try Adobe Animate for free or with Creative Cloud 

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5 

Adobe Animate: How it works

Adobe Animate during our test and review process

Adobe Animate comes with loads of templates, one of which is bound to be ideal for your next project (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A highly versatile way to easily animate 2D objects, even those not designed for animation - and it’s great fun to use.

Adobe Animate is a good and fun app to perform anything from quick to highly complex 2D animations, either using existing artwork or creating it right from within the app itself. Not to be confused with Adobe’s simple 2D digital puppeteering app, Character Animator. 

In Animate, you have complete freedom to use the software as you see fit, such as drawing each frame manually, or use the motion tween tool to automate the process (while removing a bit of individuality from the process).

In order to get started, you’re offered a series of templates, from standard 16:9 resolutions, to banner ads, various social media platforms, game consoles, web pages, the list is impressive, but if none of that suits, you’re free to customize your canvas however you see fit.

All the tools you’d expect to animate anything are there, such as keyframes, onion skinning, the works. The flexibility is quite impressive, giving you a lot of freedom when it comes to creating unique shapes, but the part we liked the best is the app’s Asset Warp tool. This allows you to add motion to an object that wasn’t originally designed for such a process - like a photo of a figurine on a transparent background, for instance. This exoskeleton informs Animate how the object’s various sections are connected to each other, enabling you to move them… within limits: if the angle means you can’t fully see one of the figure’s limbs, this method won’t magically make it appear; you can animate what you see. Nothing’s stopping you however from creating that limb from scratch, connecting that creation to the photo and controlling its movements.

When it comes to exporting your work, you’ve got a handful of options, namely sharing it directly to YouTube and Twitter (yes, at the time of review, the software still calls it Twitter), or exporting it as an .mp4 or .gif file, which you can then use anywhere you wish.

  • How it works: 4.5/5 

Adobe Animate: New features

Adobe Animate during our test and review process

Adobe Animate is all about 2D design - you can import already created assets, or create them from scratch within the interface (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Welcome improvements for sure, but the list is very paltry, and what’s actually changed, although ok, doesn’t feel like it’s worth a full numbered version upgrade. 

Animate was already surprisingly versatile and powerful as it previously was, so what wonders did Adobe introduce with the latest major upgrade? Well, it may depend on which platform you’re using the software on: there are three updates being advertised, the first of which is native Apple Silicon support. 

That’s right: Animate works natively on all the best MacBook Pro laptops and Macs with M1 to M3 chips. According to the advertising, not only will this lead to smoother drawing when compared with Intel Macs, but the app itself will launch faster, your project will export up to twice as fast, and your timeline will playback up to three times as fast. Very welcome, especially for professional creatives, but nothing to get too excited about. After all, the original M1 chip was introduced in November 2020. That’s a long time to wait for a native app from one of the most successful professional software developers in the world. Still, it’s here now, so mustn’t grumble, I guess.

Adobe Animate during our test and review process

Adobe Animate’s new interface may be ‘sleek’, but the changes are remarkably subtle compared to what was present in the previous version (Image credit: Adobe)

Next up, is a “sleek user interface”. Hearing about this got us pretty excited. After all, Animate’s previous interface was excellent, and extremely customizable, letting you tear off tabs, keep them as floating windows, or dock them elsewhere in the interface. But there’s always room for improvement. So what did they give us? We have to admit, we had to look pretty closely and make sure we were actually running the latest version. Essentially, all the windows are slightly more compressed, leaving more room for the main preview section, helping you focus more easily on what you’re designing. Again, this is great, but the change is subtle. Put the previous interface next to the current one, and it might take you a few seconds to figure out which is which. But more room to preview your work can only be a good thing.

Adobe Animate during our test and review process

Adobe Animate does have a new tool that comes with this new version: the ability to reset a warped asset to its original shape - useful for sure, but is it really worth a full numbered version upgrade? (Image credit: Adobe)

And our third tentpole new feature is the ability to reset a Warp Asset. Warp Assets are the secret sauce behind Animate’s ability to give motion to still images that weren’t initially designed for movement. Once you’ve created a skeleton frame of sorts, you can stretch and bend your image to give it the illusion that it’s moving. Subtle changes are usually best so as not to distort the image too much, which would make the motion feel unnatural, but how far is too far? There’s always been the potential for concern to experiment too much, and then having to manually move the frame back to its original settings. Until now. Thanks to this latest version, you can find the ‘Reset Warped Asset’ button to the right of a selected object’s ‘Warp Options’, in the Properties’ Object tab.

These really feel like very minor improvements, hardly worthy of a full version number upgrade. However, this shouldn’t detract you from the appeal of an app that was already pretty excellent to begin with - overall, one of the best animation software we’ve tried.

  • New features: 3/5 

Adobe Animate: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Animate during our test and review process

(Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need to animate static objects in 2D, you need something that’s powerful yet easy to use, with a bunch of original tools, and ideally you already subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

Don't buy it if...

 You’re not already an Adobe subscriber, or you want even more control over effects, as in After Effects or any of the best Adobe After Effects alternatives

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Adobe Creative Cloud (2024) review
4:36 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Adobe Creative Cloud is the hub of your Adobe existence. This is where you can launch any Adobe app you’ve installed on your computer (probably the most superfluous feature in its arsenal), where you can find and install new ones, review any files you’ve saved on Adobe Cloud. It's also a space where you can find tutorials for top Adobe apps, and browse the stock media libraries of Adobe Stock. The interface has had a major makeover since we last reviewed the app, so we thought it was time to delve back in there and see how this nexus of activity works in 2024.

Adobe Creative Cloud: Pricing & plans

  • Creative Cloud itself is free, but you need it to manage your other Adobe software, and for that, you need a subscription. It’s not cheap, but it might offer value for money. 

Adobe Creative Cloud in use during our tests

You can’t do anything with Creative Cloud unless you login (Image credit: Adobe)

In and of itself, this software is free. You will need an Adobe ID to make use of it, but that’s also free. After that, you have to choose a subscription plan to grant you access to some, most or all of Adobe’s portfolio. The prices vary depending on whether you’re an individual, in education, or a business, but for illustrative purposes, we’ll be looking at costs for individuals here. 

Most apps, the top of the line ones such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro, will each cost you $23 per month. There is some fluctuation though: Adobe Acrobat Pro is $20, Adobe Express $10. If you want access to most of Adobe’s portfolio via its ‘all apps’ package, you can do so for $60 a month.

These prices are for what Adobe calls ‘annual billed monthly’. This is effectively a 12-month contract, paid each month. Monthly subscriptions are available, but are more expensive. Annual upfront subscriptions are the cheapest way to access Creative Cloud. Certain apps offer you a free trial, but you can also get a refund, as long as you cancel your subscription within 14 days.

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5

Adobe Creative Cloud: The Apps

Adobe Creative Cloud in use during our tests

The Home page offers you a few customizable shortcuts (Image credit: Adobe)
  • This is the core of the app’s purpose, and it does a fantastic job at managing your software. You can install new ones, delete others, and update them all, in a very easy to use interface.

Adobe Creative Cloud has evolved since we last visited it. Everything feels more streamlined, which makes it easier for you to find what you’re after. For instance, the sidebar’s main focus used to be on categories, letting you choose ‘Photography’, or ‘Video’, or ‘3D' for instance. There was also a dedicated Fonts section there, which was superfluous since you also had a Font button top right of the interface. So gone is the old sidebar, and in with the new.

You now start with a Home button, showing you pre-assigned shortcuts to apps you’ve installed on your machine (this is customisable), followed by current information about relevant apps, a view of the latest files you’ve stored on Adobe Cloud, and quick links to Adobe Express, and Firefly - the AI art generator and assistant that’s infused across Adobe products.

Adobe Creative Cloud in use during our tests

This is the nexus of the app, where you manage all the pro Adobe software you have on your computer (Image credit: Adobe)

Next is ‘Apps’, where you may well be spending most of your time. Here, you can manage all your available Adobe software, from installing new ones, to removing others, and keeping them all up to date. 

We appreciate the fact you have full control over such updates, from manually choosing what gets updated, to letting Creative Cloud download and install everything as it gets released. When it comes to major updates, you can also choose to keep the old version as you install a new one, a crucial feature if you’re currently working on a project, and don’t want to risk the new changes unintentionally messing up your work, while also staying up to date.

  • The apps: 5/5

Adobe Creative Cloud: Tutorials

Adobe Creative Cloud in use during our tests

The Discover page has a lot of useful information, including tutorials and links to Adobe’s Community forum (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Having a place where you can learn more about some of Adobe’s apps is most welcome - but links force you out of the app and into your web browser.

The ‘Discover’ section isn’t new. In fact, it had its own menu top left of the interface in the previous version, although that menu was pretty subtle and easily missed. Now however, it’s much more front and centre, having its own dedicated space on the left sidebar. This makes it much easier to find and explore.

Seven apps are covered, including Acrobat, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Adobe InDesign, and through Discover, you get access to video tutorials, tips and tricks articles. You can also get support from Adobe’s community. Although most videos and live streams can be accessed from within the Creative Cloud interface, clicking on the other two will take you out of this software, and into your web browser. It’s not ideal, and we did find it somewhat disruptive, but the concept and (most of) the implementation is fine. 

  • Tutorials: 3/5

Adobe Creative Cloud: Stock media

Adobe Creative Cloud in use during our tests

A nicely laid out page which merely send you to your web browser should you click on anything (Image credit: Adobe)
  • The ‘Stock & Marketplace’ section looks great and appears to be full of features, yet everything you click on just takes you to your web browser. 

Another important facet of Creative Cloud is its link to Adobe Stock. Click on ‘Stock & Marketplace' to be graced with a busy interface. You’ve got tabs at the top representing various categories, such as Photos, Audio, Templates and Plugins, followed further down by a large search field with the ability to filter your results, and after that, a long list of featured items, represented by large thumbnails.

All this sounds great, but it’s all just a veneer: no matter what you type on, you’ll be taken to a new page in your web browser. Even the search field is window dressing, and typing anything in it also directs to the browser. It’s not the most user-friendly interaction, forcing you to juggle between two apps. Because of this, it feels unfinished, like one of those old Western movie towns, where everything is just facades of buildings, with nothing behind them.

All in all, Creative Cloud is most useful to keep track of the Adobe apps you’ve installed on your computer, but there are other features which could make it attractive for those seeking information and new media for their project. It’s a shame though that more often than not, Creative Cloud will still take you to a web browser, which is never an ideal interaction. Still, it’s an improvement over the previous version, and the sidebar, and the layout of the information is better than ever. It’s an invaluable control centre for Adobe’s apps, but it could be so much better when it comes to the additional features.

  • Stock media: 3/5

Adobe Creative Cloud: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Creative Cloud in use during our tests

Check which apps need updating, and which version to keep (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You have an Adobe subscription, need to manage its apps installed on your computer, browse for relevant information, and look for additional media. 

Don't buy it if...

You're not an Adobe user - and don't need access to all apps and tutorials.

Adobe After Effects (2024) review
7:51 pm | March 25, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: | Comments: Off

Adobe After Effects is to video effects what Photoshop is to image editing. That should come as no surprise, with Adobe dominating the creative apps field with the likes of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and After Effects itself. It’s long been our choice for best VFX software, and not just because seamlessly integrating with other Creative Apps

The last time we reviewed the software, we called it a visual effects powerhouse that anyone can use. It’s impressively feature-rich, packed with industry-standard visual effects tools for professionals and beginners - although newcomers may find it a bit trickier at first. However, in a bid to make it even more accessible, Adobe has been busy adding a whole load of additional tools beyond the VFX essentials every video compositor needs. 

So, we were excited to see what 2024 version serves up. Do the latest AI features and improvements make special effects more accessible? And is Adobe After Effects still worth it for your next VFX project? 

Adobe After Effects: Pricing & plans

  • Expensive on its own, but a bargain if you use other Adobe Creative Cloud apps.

It should no longer be a surprise by now that all of Adobe’s professional line of software is only available through a subscription, although you do have a choice of how much you need (or want) to pay to gain access to it.

Adobe offers three subscription plans: annual, monthly, and annual billed monthly. This last one is like a phone contract, you sign up for a year and pay an early exit fee if you stop the subscription. You’ll also find different rates, depending on whether you’re an individual user, business, or student and teacher. 

After Effects is available as a standalone app - if you’re only interested in VFX, this is the best choice. However, it’s also bundled into the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps alongside the likes of Photoshop and Premiere Pro (in our experience, the best video editing software, and a perfect complement to After Effects). It also includes 100GB of cloud  storage, access to Adobe Express and Adobe Firefly, along with tutorials, fonts, and 500 generative credits per month for AI-created media.

If you’d like to try it out before purchasing it, Adobe offers you a 7-day free trial - just make sure to cancel before your time is up should you decide After Effects isn’t for you, otherwise you’ll be automatically subscribed.

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5 

Adobe After Effects: 3D

Adobe After Effects in use during our review

After Effects now has an extensive 3D environment, which has some limitations when compared with dedicated software, but still works great (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Great new working environment, with a good selection of tools which are surprisingly easy to use.

After Effects has also boasted outstanding tools for visual effects - and we’ve always been impressed with their implementation. But, for us, the big tentpole feature is undoubtedly 3D. 

This isn’t Adobe Substance or any of the rest of the best 3D modeling software. So, you can’t model tools directly in After Effects. But you can easily import .obj, .gltf, and .glb objects which you’ll be able to manipulate within the software. You will find some limitations, like the fact transparent materials aren’t yet supported, but it’s pretty remarkable being able to easily work with 3D objects right from the interface we’ve grown accustomed to. If you don’t have a 3D object to play with yourself, Adobe’s own stock library has a wealth of them, many of which are free to license and use.

Perhaps one of the most exciting features is Image-Based lighting. It uses a 360-degree High Dynamic Range file as a light source to realistically create complementary shadows as your object moves around its environment, while also altering its colors so they blend more realistically with the scene you’ve created. In our experiments, it worked astonishingly well, and it’s incredibly easy to blend 3D objects within a 2D project.

  • 3D: 4/5

Adobe After Effects: Roto Brush 2

Adobe After Effects in use during our review

Let the AI help you delineate the object you wish to cut out (Image credit: Adobe)
  • The AI makes it easy to select your object, and the auto tracking does an excellent job following its movement over time.

Rotoscoping is an invaluable tool. Sure, you could use a green screen to make the process so much easier and faster, but sometimes you don’t have that luxury, so you end up having to cut out a subject from a potentially complex background. This used to be done on a frame by frame basis, which is where Adobe After Effects’ Roto Brush 2 comes into its own. 

This tool uses machine learning algorithms to greatly simplify and speed up the process. You still have to define the object you wish to preserve, and fine tune the selection until you’re happy with the results - there’s no need to be pixel accurate as the interface will help fill the gaps as it were. 

Adobe After Effects in use during our review

You can put these objects (and others) in any other environment (Image credit: Adobe)

Once you’re happy with your selection, this tool will automatically analyze the rest of the clip, tracking the movement of your selection frame by frame.

Our test subject, a sheep, was a pretty tricky one, but Roto Brush 2 handled it exceedingly well. Suffice to say, we were impressed by the results and hardly had to do any fixing over the clip’s duration.

  •  Roto Brush 2: 4.5/5

Adobe After Effects 2024: Content-Aware Fill

Adobe After Effects in use during our review

The Content Aware Fill feature will likely work best when the background is simpler (Image credit: Adobe)
  • It’s a great idea that likely works best when the background isn’t too busy.

Content-Aware Fill sounds immensely useful. How many times have you looked at a clip that would’ve been perfect, were it not for that person in the background, or that piece of trash you regretfully failed to notice when you were shooting? 

With this tool, you can use Adobe’s Sensei AI to erase said item from your video, blending the hole left behind with the background. The examples they show make it look like magic, and perhaps it is in certain conditions, as is the case with other “image repair”-like tools: it all depends on the scene, and how complex the removed section is to replace.

Selecting the offending object is simple enough: create a mask around it, track it over time, and then use this Content-Aware tool to ‘Generate a Fill Layer’. So far, so good. We found the time it took to do its magic was exceedingly long. We thought the Roto Brush 2 was slow on our 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 Mac, but that was nothing compared to this one, and sadly, by the end, our results were disappointing.

However, it’s highly likely we demanded too much of this tool with either too busy a background in one case, or too small a subject in another. However, the results do show what the software was trying to do: if your background is relatively clean, you should get pretty good results out of it.

  • Content-Aware Fill: 3.5/5

Adobe After Effects 2024: Improved Interface

Adobe After Effects in use during our review

The Properties panel is greatly improved, making it incredibly easy to work with keyframes and animate objects on the screen (Image credit: Adobe)
  • It’s not all tentpole features: other parts of the interface have received some welcome improvements.

On top of the above there have been a few other interesting improvements, namely with the Properties Panel which has been designed to simplify the animation process: it’s now ridiculously easy to add keyframes to core values and move a clip across the screen, alter its size, opacity and rotation. As you create a keyframe in the Properties Panel, you’ll also see them appear in the Timeline, enabling you to make alterations wherever you see fit.

Other improvements include multi-frame rendering which is designed to speed up the rendering process, by up to a factor of 4, depending of course on your computer’s specs.

Adobe After Effects: Final Verdict

All in all, Adobe After Effects 2024 introduces a few powerful new tools, the most exciting of which - for us - is the inclusion of an easy-to-use 3D working environment. Dedicated 3D software is still the place to go if you’re serious about that kind of work, but it’s fantastic, even with some limitations, to also be able to have access to it straight from After Effects. Whether you’re a professional VFX artist or just beginning your career, Adobe After Effects is still the best place to start.

Adobe After Effects: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe After Effects in use during our review

(Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You’re a creative at any level who a professional VFX software toolkit, you enjoy the Adobe environment, and you look forward to all the new tools Adobe introduces each year. 

Don't buy it if...

Your needs are more modest or you're a beginner who may be easily overwhelmed by the software’s complexity - which is inevitable considering all you can achieve with After Effects.

Adobe After Effects: Alternatives

We've tested out a range of the best Adobe After Effects alternatives - and whether you need more than AE offers, you want something simpler, or you want free VFX software, there are loads out there. 

For a free, professional, check out Fusion by Blackmagic Design, which works alongside DaVinci Resolve. We also like Apple Motion, a VFX tool that pairs nicely with Apple Final Cut Pro.  

We tested the best video editing apps- and here are our top picks

Allyant review: a document accessibility partner that looks good on paper
4:06 pm | March 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Allyant is a company that specializes in providing business accessibility solutions. It can help you comply with regulations like the ADA and WCAG, which ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to your content. 

Allyant's solutions are designed to be practical and non-intrusive. They work behind the scenes to make your documents and websites more accessible without changing how they look or function. 

Some features Allyant offers include accessibility audits, document remediation, website remediation, and ongoing maintenance and support. It can also provide training and guidance to help you and your team understand accessibility requirements and best practices. Here's a look at the service and its features. 


website showing Allyant's CommonLook PDF Validator tool

(Image credit: Allyant)

Allyant offers two primary services related to accessibility: document remediation and digital accessibility auditing.

Allyant's document remediation service is designed to make your documents accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities. The process is simple and efficient. You can easily upload your documents through Allyant's portal or email system. Once received, a team of experts will organize your documents according to your requirements while adhering to industry standards. The team will also perform accessibility testing to ensure your documents comply with the latest accessibility guidelines. With Allyant's document remediation service, you can be sure that your documents are accessible to everyone.

Allyant also offers software for remediating documents in-house. This software includes the CommonLook PDF Validator, an Adobe Acrobat plug-in designed to test PDF accessibility. CommonLook PDF is another remediation software plug-in for Adobe Acrobat that allows you to test, repair, and report on accessible PDF documents. 

Additionally, the company offers CommonLook tools for Microsoft Office applications. These tools allow users to create, validate, and repair documents in programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

Allyant's CommonLook Online tool is a subscription-based service that aims to make the lives of administrators, educators, and those working in Disability Support Services (DSS) easier. With this tool, users can quickly upload a document and convert it into multiple formats in just a few clicks. The process is pain-free and efficient, ensuring that all students receive the necessary materials in the best format for them.

CommonLook Online

(Image credit: Allyant)

Meanwhile, the Allyant CommonLook Online tool provides high-level automation to simplify the transcription process. The tool uses guided user input to ensure the documents are transcribed accurately and effectively. CommonLook Online can transcribe documents into accessible Word, braille, PDF, and E-text formats.

Each tool mentioned above allows you to ensure compliance with various standards, such as Section 508 WCAG AA, PDF/UA, and HHS standards. You can also generate compliance reports for each document and customize checkpoints based on your organization's needs.

Allyant also offers a unique "HUB" platform, which merges project and issue management into a seamless interface. This platform facilitates real-time reporting on project progress, provides tools for understanding the impact of accessibility across roles, and allows for direct communication with Allyant's experts.

Allyant also offers digital accessibility auditing services to its clients. Customers can request a quote through the website or contact Allyant directly for this service.

Allyants' team of professionals will carefully evaluate the customer's website or web application by employing automated tools and manual testing methods. Following the evaluation, they will furnish a report containing discoveries, suggestions, and top-notch strategies to enhance the website or web application's accessibility and user-friendliness.

The company thoroughly evaluates digital assets, including websites, client portals, mobile apps, IoT devices, enterprise platforms, and kiosks. Their goal is to enable digital accessibility by identifying and addressing compliance issues with web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG).

How does Allyant use AI?

Allyant provides an enterprise-class AI solution that enables post-production accessibility tagging for high volumes of PDF documents. Its CommonLook (CL) AI automation solutions add post-production accessibility compliance to your electronic document generation systems while allowing archiving for future retrieval and on-demand access without changing your existing document workflows or software systems.

Using the company's highly advanced deep neural network AI, your document generation becomes more intelligent. Furthermore, as the solution produces files, the algorithms are continually enhanced through their quality assurance and post-processing methodology. In essence, the tool is "taught" through actual accessible sample documents how to tag PDF documents correctly. This ensures that those documents are fully accessible and work seamlessly with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Allyant also offers a pre-composition solution that resides on top of existing databases for the author and generates accessible PDF documents in high volume. Both solutions are available via APIs for tight integration into your existing workflows and can be hosted on-premises or in Allyant's secure cloud.

Installation, setup, and compatibility

Products such as UserWay and AccessiBe are available to ensure that websites remain accessible. These providers have developed software that continuously checks company web pages for issues that require fixing. On the other hand, Allyant offers a different solution, which means that the steps to get started with their services differ.

Allyant offers various ways to get started with its accessibility solutions, depending on your needs. These begin with FREE resources such as business guides and webinars. If you need a comprehensive solution for managing your organization's accessibility efforts, Allyant offers the HUB platform. 

Finally, the company's software titles, such as CommonLook PDF and CommonLook Office, help make your PDFs and documents accessible. The company also offers self-paced training modules that tie everything together for your team. 

Plans and pricing

Allyant offers various services that cater to multiple industries, including healthcare, finance, and education. Because of its varied services, you must contact the company directly for pricing information. 

When you contact Allyant, you can expect to receive a personalized quote based on your specific needs. The company will consider factors like the size and complexity of your project and any particular features or functionality you require. Additionally, turnaround time can impact pricing, as expedited projects may require additional resources and incur additional fees.

Overall, there’s every reason to believe Allyant strives to provide transparent and fair pricing for its clients. While the company may not publish its pricing directly on its website, it is committed to working with clients to provide accurate and reasonable pricing estimates based on their unique needs and requirements.

Final verdict

Allyant is a company that offers an array of services that can benefit businesses and agencies of all sizes. With specialized software tools, Allyant provides document and website accessibility and contact with experts. These services can help companies comply with accessibility laws and regulations, ensuring their digital content is available to all users, including those with disabilities.

However, while Allyant's services are undoubtedly helpful, finding critical information on their website can be challenging. For example, upfront costs, training requirements, and long-term expenses are not always immediately apparent. It can also be challenging to know whether demos are available for testing purposes or what the software tools look like.

If you're interested in working with Allyant, your best bet is to contact the company and begin a discussion. From there, you'll better understand whether there is a good fit between Allyant and your organization. Conversation with Allyant's team can help clarify any questions or concerns you may have and provide the opportunity to discuss your specific accessibility needs. Whether you're a small business or a large corporation, Allyant's services can help you improve the accessibility of your digital content and ensure that it's available to all users.

More from TechRadar Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro (2024) review
5:48 pm | March 11, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: | Comments: Off

Adobe Acrobat has evolved since its early days as a PDF all-in-one, growing into three separate multi-platform apps: Acrobat Reader, Standard and Pro. 

Each software adds an increasing number of features, so, if you just need to view a PDF document, Acrobat Reader is ideal. Acrobat Standard and Pro are best for PDF creation and editing, electronic signing, and a lot more document management options. In most cases, and in our experience, Acrobat Standard is the best PDF editor for most people, while Acrobat Pro adds a few more tools for the business or professional user. 

We’ve already taken a look at Reader and Standard - you can check out our Adobe Acrobat Reader review and the Adobe Acrobat Standard review for more. It’s time to finish this PDF trilogy by exploring the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat Pro. 

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Price & plans

  • Pro is the most expensive version of Acrobat, but it’s also included in Adobe’s All Apps Creative Cloud bundle. 

It’s not going to be a surprise to learn that Pro is the most expensive Acrobat version - $19.99 / £19.97 a year paid monthly (monthly and annual upfront subscriptions are also available). 

Unlike Acrobat Standard though, you can opt for a seven-day free trial, if you’d like to check its features out, but it does involve you initiating a subscription, so don’t forget to cancel it in time if you decide the app’s not for you.

There’s also an alternative way to grab a copy of Acrobat Pro: by getting an All Apps Creative Cloud subscription. It’s more expensive, but bundles the PDF editor with dozens of other apps like Photoshop and Premiere Pro, that all integrate seamlessly. This means that if you already have a subscription to handle your professional creative work (or you need one), you already have the most full featured version of Acrobat. 

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5 

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Interface & experience

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

The interface is the same as for Reader and Standard: clean, simple and efficient (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Very elegant and well designed interface, offering you various ways of performing the same action, which gives you the flexibility of using the one that suits you best.

Just like Reader and Standard - and just as you’d hope, expect, dream - Acrobat Pro’s interface is clean, simple, well-designed. We found the tools are easy to locate and use, offering you various ways of working. 

All told, this creates a highly flexible interface that works for you. Acrobat Pro doesn’t force you to alter your workflow, to do it the Adobe way or else. It’s a fantastic piece of design, particularly for Standard and Pro. We did find Reader’s interface felt more like an advert for Adobe’s superior PDF editors. 

  • Interface: 4/5

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Standard tools

Adobe Acrobat Standard during our review process

These are the tools we used during both Standard and Pro reviews (Image credit: Adobe )
  • All the features available in the Standard edition are present and correct in Pro’s comprehensive toolkit

As you’d expect, all the tools available in Standard can be accessed in Pro. This means you’re able to comment on a PDF, share it with others and track the progress of those files. You can change a PDF’s format, and export it as a Microsoft document (Word, Excel or PowerPoint), turn a PDF into images, convert it to HTML, edit it, change the embedded text and images, create PDFs from scratch, fill in and sign PDFs (it’s some of the best eSignature software we’ve ever tested), and there’s plenty more besides.

You also have the ability to combine multiple PDFs into a single file, reorder pages, and delete some. When it comes to security, adding a password to protect a PDF’s content and prevent others from editing it is a cinch. This is all done in a very intuitive way, and even though you might select a specific tool, you’re able to effortlessly access others without having to leave the confines of said tool.

It’s a very comprehensive, even impressive, feature-set - and that’s just the tools you get in Acrobat Standard. 

  • Tools: 4.5/5

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Pro tools

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

Use Acrobat’s Accessibility tool to check if your file meets the accessibility compliance standard (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Some very useful and obviously professional tools, coupled with others that should really be considered mainstream by now.

While the ‘as-Standard’ tools feel weighty, essential for a PDF power user, we couldn’t shake the sense that some tools labelled as “Pro”, don’t really feel that they belong in a “Pro” category. 

Take the ability to turn a scanned paper document into a searchable PDF. Although it’s undoubtedly highly useful to be able to do that, some of the best free PDF editors, and even modern hardware, have been offering such a feature for a while now. Take your iPhone camera: you can take a photo with it and any text contained within it becomes selectable - and all without having to pay a subscription.

Another one which is more understandably a Pro feature, is the ability to create and validate PDFs to meet accessibility standards. This is a very important feature for any business, and once you check a document, you’re given a list of issues to fix to improve a document’s accessibility. Some can be resolved automatically, while others may require a little more work. But, we find it baffling why this is restricted to the Pro version? Wouldn’t this feature be of greater benefit if the Standard version had access to it as well?

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

Redacting sensitive information is so easy to do with Acrobat’s ‘Redact’ tool (Image credit: Adobe)

Be that as it may, as with other features included with Acrobat, it all works well and is easy to understand. There’s even a menu called ‘Explain’ which sends you to a webpage telling you why there’s a problem, and why it’s important to fix it.

Something that makes more sense in the Pro arena is the ability to compare two versions of a document. Acrobat will give you a summary of the disparity through a visual representation, and even gives you the ability to filter those results to make it clearer what has changed. We could see this as an invaluable tool in anyone’s workflow.

Redaction can also prove highly useful when there’s sensitive information on a PDF you’d rather not share with others. As you’d expect, the way it works is incredibly simple: just highlight all the problematic sections, and once you’re done, click on ‘Apply’.

In addition to blanking out certain passages and images, there’s another little highlight here. You also have the option of automatically removing a document’s metadata, embedded URLs, comments, and more. Adobe calls it ‘sanitising’ and if you’re into not passing on too much data, it’s a one-click wonder.

It’s clear that Adobe Acrobat Pro’s market is much more of a niche one than who they’re aiming for with ‘Standard’. It’s highly likely most people will be more than satisfied with Standard, even though Pro is the one included with the All Apps Creating Cloud subscription. However, if those additional tools are crucial to your workflow, you’ll find them extremely well implemented and easy to use in Acrobat Pro.

  • Pro tools: 3.5

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

Have different versions of the same file? ‘Compare Files’ will look at them both and tell you what’s different about them (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need advanced PDF editing tools, including redaction, and accessibility compliance, or you already subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud package, which includes it by default.

Don't buy it if...

You want a simple way to view or make basic alterations to a PDF - in our experience, Pro is equipped with more features than most casual users will need.

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Alternatives

We've tested out man of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives if Pro isn't for you. 

If Acrobat Pro is a bit more than you bargained for, we recommend checking out Adobe Acrobat Standard - it's a great choice for most people's PDF needs. 

For some other top apps, see our pdfFiller review for a browser-based PDF editor that's surprisingly full of features. For a free alternative, see our PDF24 Creator review - it's our favorite free PDF tool and it's packed full of essential document management tools. 

We tested the best free PDF readers- and here are our top picks

Adobe Acrobat Standard (2024) review
9:27 pm | March 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

Intrigued by Adobe Acrobat Reader, but wished you had access to more advanced tools expected in the best PDF editors? Then Adobe Acrobat Standard might be what you’ve been looking for. 

Adobe Acrobat Standard: Price & plans

  • Subscription-based software that's pricier than some of the competition

As with most Adobe products, you'll need a subscription to get the most from Acrobat. But it's not like the the Reader and Pro versions. 

As mentioned in our Adobe Acrobat Reader review, Adobe's basic PDF viewer is free, while Acrobat Pro offers you a free trial. To get to grips with Adobe Acrobat Standard, however, you have to subscribe. There is no free trial, no free anything. Thankfully, you can request a refund after 14 days, but that still requires effort on the subscriber’s part to remember to cancel in time when trying an app out.

Alternatively, you can opt to get Pro’s free trial to get a sense of the Standard offering. Aside from a handful of features such as bulk e-signature requests, and admin tools to manage teams, the toolset is virtually identical. 

If you decide Adobe Acrobat Standard is for you, you have a choice from the usual Adobe subscription plans: annual paid monthly, monthly, and annual plans are available (and, as you’d expect, paying upfront for the year is the cheapest option). 

The price is quite a lot more expensive than some of its competition, such as Easeus PDF Editor, FoxIt PDF Editor, or ILovePDF, but you get a good amount for your money if you’re a PDF power-user. 

  • Pricing & plans: 3.5/5 

Adobe Acrobat Standard: Interface

Adobe Acrobat Standard during our review process

Adobe Acrobat Standard’s interface is clean and simple to use, and unlike ‘Reader’, most of its tools actually work (Image credit: Adobe )
  • Simple, and easy to find the tools you’re after, while offering you a soupçon of customization

If you’re familiar with Adobe Acrobat Reader, you’ll feel right at home in Adobe Acrobat Standard, and the same will be true should you ever jump to Adobe Acrobat Pro. But unlike Acrobat Reader, all the tools on display actually work - rather than a bid to entice you to upgrade. It might be the one of the best free PDF readers for now, but for any real document management, Acrobat Standard or Pro are all but essential. 

Acrobat’s sidebar on the left gives you quick access to your files, those you’ve recently worked on or read, those that reside in your online Adobe Cloud Storage, any Agreements you’ve signed or requested a signature for, and files stored on your computer, some support for some of the best cloud storage services, such as Box, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive and SharePoint.

Click on ‘Recent’ to see a handful of available tools, like ‘Edit PDF’, ‘Create PDF’, and ‘Combine Files’, but if you want to see all available options, click on the ‘Tools’ tab, to the right of the ‘Home’ tab, top left of the interface. If you’re already in the ‘Recent’ section, you also have an ‘See All Tools’ button to the right which does the same thing.

These tools are listed by category, depending on what you need to do, and their titles are self explanatory: ‘Edit & Create’, ‘Forms & Signature’, ‘Share & Review’, etc. To the right you’ll find a sidebar with another list or commonly used tools. That sidebar is totally customizable: reorder the list by dragging items up or down, remove tools you don’t need, and add some not currently displayed by selecting them from the main list. This helps you focus on the main tools you find yourself using all the time.

  • Interface: 4/5

Adobe Acrobat Standard: Tools

Adobe Acrobat Standard during our review process

The tool sidebar (on the right) is populated with common functions, but you are free to totally customize it to suit your exact needs (Image credit: Adobe )
  • An example of good design - a wealth of tools are well-organized, versatile, and easy to use, coupled with a flexible interface designed to work the way you do

You may think that Adobe Acrobat Standard only lets you work on one particular function at a time, but this would be to misunderstand the underlying elegance of the software. Sure, each tool has its own icon, and you can customize the sidebar to the right as discussed above, but that doesn’t mean the functionalities are segregated.

Take the ‘Combine Files’ tool for instance. As its name implies, this is where you import multiple PDFs and merge them into one. But what if you’d like to remove some pages, or reorder others? Do you have to click on another icon for that? Well, no. Once you’re in the editing section, you are actually free to do pretty much whatever you like with your PDF. So you can reorder and delete pages from the ‘Combine Files’ section. You can also annotate, or even edit the existing text and images, without having to select another tool. All your editing options are available via the toolbar at the top.

Some tools will reveal another toolbar, like the ‘Edit Text & Images’ icon, but you can do everything you need to do without having to interact with the right sidebar… unless you want to of course.

Adobe Acrobat Standard during our review process

Access a tool like ‘Combine’, and notice you can use others right from its interface, offering you great flexibility in the way you work (Image credit: Adobe )

It’s this kind of flexibility of working that we love in a well designed app: you’re offered multiple ways of performing the same action, and it’s up to you to decide which one fits your workflow best, without that being forced upon you by a developer.

So, Adobe Acrobat Standard is an incredibly well-designed and flexible software, which aims to help you manipulate, annotate, and edit PDFs. You’re able to do the simplest things, from transforming a PDF into a variety of other formats, such as Word, Excel, JPG, HTML and a few others, to creating a file from scratch, and everything in between, including filing in and signing PDFs. The list is pretty extensive and what’s best is how easy and intuitive the tools are to use. 

Considering Adobe created the format, it’s little surprise they’d design a best-in-class application to manipulate it - even in the face of some of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives. It’s obviously far better than Acrobat Reader which mostly felt to us like an advert for this software. This is Acrobat as you expect it to be, with a wide array of tools to help you work in the PDF format and achieve what you need to achieve - mostly.

There are a few limitations, most of which are covered by the ‘Pro’ version, such as converting files into the PDF format, redacting information, and comparing two versions of a PDF. Such functions are deemed by Adobe to be higher end, and should not be needed by the vast majority of its target audience, unless of course they do, which is where Acrobat Pro comes in. 

  • Tools: 4.5/5

Adobe Acrobat Standard: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Acrobat Standard during our review process

You can transform a PDF file into a wide number of other formats, from Microsoft, to HTML, to images and more besides (Image credit: Adobe )

Buy it if...

You need a well designed piece of software that allows you to work with a PDF file, from basic management, to filing in and signing documents, to creating some from scratch.

Don't buy it if...

You'd rather save money with the best free PDF editors, or your document modifications are more modest - Acrobat is full of features, and you may not need them all. 

Adobe Acrobat Standard: Alternatives

We've tested a range of Acrobat substitutes - and our top-rated apps include:

pdfFiller, a surprisingly feature-rich web-based editing tool.
EaseUS PDF Editor, which offers a low-cost annual subscription compared to PDF24 Creator, which is our favorite, feature-filled PDF tool you can use completely free. 

We tested the best PDF readers for Windows - and here's our top picks

Adobe Acrobat Reader (2024) review
4:20 pm | February 26, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: | Comments: Off

The PDF format was created by Adobe Systems, and introduced at the Windows and OS/2 Conference in January 1993. It became an open standard in 2008, which enabled other companies to make PDF-compatible software. However, Adobe Acrobat Reader remains the venerable original - but is it still one of the best free PDF readers we’ve tested? We’re going to take a look.  

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Price & plans

  • It’s totally free, but there’s a price to pay in the form numerous prompts urging you to try out Acrobat Pro

There are multiple versions of Acrobat: Reader, Standard, and Pro. Each offers an increasing number of features, each comes in its own dedicated application, and we’ll therefore review them separately. 

Reader is the simplest of the bunch, offering the most basic functions, and is designed to be accessed by as many people as possible. As a result, it is offered completely free of charge. Shame about the constant prompts to get you to upgrade, though. It does distract from the otherwise pleasant workflow.

  • Pricing & plans: 3.5/5 

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Interface

Adobe Acrobat Reader screenshot during our review

The software’s main window is clean and simple showing you a handful of tools, while reminding you to upgrade to Acrobat Pro (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A large clear interface offering you tools which you can’t actually use unless you log on or pay

The interface looks clean and simple. To the left you’ve got a sidebar showing links to various functions, such as any recent documents you’ve worked with within the app, access to your Adobe Cloud Storage, any Agreement documents you’ve dealt with, and links to file storage, either on your hard drive, or via many of the best cloud storage providers, such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and SharePoint.

The bulk of the interface to the right will depend on which menu is selected in the sidebar, with ‘Recent’ offering you some tools such as adding comments to a PDF, request an e-signature, or fill and sign a document yourself. You can also open a PDF and simply read it.

The ‘Online Cloud Storage’, which takes up a fair chunk of the sidebar, is actually useless if you haven’t logged in with your Adobe ID. Top right and lower left are also permanent adverts for you to “try Acrobat Pro, free for 7 days”. You’ll also find a small ‘Create’ tab, top left. This is where you’ll find one of the best Word to PDF converters - but it also works with images. It’s a great tool, for sure… except this isn’t actually available for free: you would have to upgrade to either Standard or Pro to take advantage of such a feature.

But that’s not the only hidden prompt to upgrade you’ll find dotted around the interface. There are many enticing tools offering you to Convert a PDF into a Microsoft format, or Edit a PDF for instance, but none are actually available unless you pay for Standard or Pro.

All of this must be great from a marketing point of view, but is far from user friendly. In fact, the interface feels way too big for the small amount of features you actually have access to with Acrobat Reader.

  • Interface: 2/5

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Online advantages

Adobe Acrobat Reader screenshot during our review

Once you’ve logged in, you can easily set up documents and send them for others to fill in and sign - all for free (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A generous amount of online storage, and an easier way to request e-signatures. What’s not to like?

Adobe Acrobat Reader really wants you to sign in, so let’s sign in. This can be done any time you select a tool that cannot work without being online, or simply by clicking on the ‘sign in’ button, top right of the interface, just above the large blue ‘Try Acrobat Pro’ button.

The most obvious bonus is gaining access to your ‘Adobe Cloud Storage’. Adobe very generously offers you 2GB of free storage. It’s yours forever. No need to pay for anything in order to get it. So that’s great.

We have to say, though, this is some of the best eSignature software in a PDF reader. Once you’ve signed up and signed in, it’s really easy to add text and signature fields to a document which can then be sent to other people, all handled through Adobe’s Cloud Storage. The recipients do not need an account themselves. This can be most useful. 

  • Online advantages: 4/5

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Free tools

Adobe Acrobat Reader screenshot during our review

Reading a PDF, annotating it, drawing on it, inserting notes, it’s all very easy to achieve (Image credit: Adobe)

Let’s take a look at what you can actually do with Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can of course open and read a PDF. This is a very simple function, which offers you the ability to scroll through the document and even search for specific words.

On top of that, you can add comments, make annotations, draw on the page, add shapes, that sort of thing. It’s all incredibly easy to use. You’re even able to change the colour and thickness of what you’re applying to the page.

To the left you’ll find a sidebar, containing tools, most of which you can’t use without paying - again. The little blue asterisk is there, but only when you hover over the menu you’re interested in, so as to hide the fact you can’t actually have access to what’s on offer.

Adobe Acrobat Reader screenshot during our review

Acrobat Reader can detect fields that need to be filled in, making it easy for you to complete and sign a digital form (Image credit: Adobe)

When it comes to filling in and signing a form yourself, Adobe Acrobat Reader will automatically highlight the sections that are designed for you to fill in, and if they haven’t been set for you by the sender, you can click on a button and Acrobat Reader will detect the fields automatically. We found this saves a lot of time - your mileage may vary, but we found that automatic detection to be almost flawless.

It’s a shame that many of the other best free PDF editors and readers offer more tools without charge. Apple Preview for instance allows you to combine PDFs, reorder pages, take pages out, place pages into new documents, and convert any file it can open into a PDF. These should be seen as basic functions, not premium ones. Sadly, Adobe thinks you must subscribe in order to gain access to those. 

  • Free tools: 4/5

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Paid tools

  • Why offer tools you can’t actually use unless you upgrade to a different piece of Adobe software?

Adobe Acrobat Reader showcases 28 different tools, which sounds fantastic, but the vast majority of these can only really be accessed by upgrading the app to Standard or Pro. Very useful tools like ‘Scan & OCR’, ‘Convert to PDF’, ‘Redact a PDF’, ‘Combine Files’ and many more are there for you to look at, but not for you to use. This is exceedingly frustrating.

Thankfully, those ‘premium’ tools have a small blue asterisk next to their icon to help you discern them. Puzzlingly, ‘Request a Signature’ has such an icon, yet you can use it for free. This leaves 7 tools (8 if you count ‘Request a Signature’) free for you to use. It is frustrating to see this, especially since Adobe’s professional tools are so exceedingly good. Such tactics shouldn’t be needed.

  • Paid tools: 2/5

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Acrobat Reader screenshot during our review

The activity, linked to a document, will show you who has read it and signed it - an easy to follow digital paper trail (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You want a PDF reader that offers you a few basic functions that work well, while constantly reminding you its paid-for alternatives have more advanced tools available.

Don't buy it if...

You don’t want to be constantly reminded of other Adobe apps you can purchase that would allow you to use most of the tools Acrobat Reader displays, but restricts.

Adobe Acrobat Reader: Alternatives

We've tested a number of the best PDF readers for Windows, the best PDF readers for Android, and the best PDF readers for Mac. So, if you're looking for an alternative to Reader, we know what to look out for. 

In our experience, the closest competition - a free PDF reader with a good set of tools - we recommend checking out our Apple Preview review for macOS users and our PDF24 Creator review - it's one of the best PDF editors on the market and doesn't cost anything. 

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