While Corel's PDF Fusion can also fare well at multi-format document conversion, the Windows-based tool truly excels for low-cost creation of personalized documents in PDF, a format easily readable across both PCs and multi-OS smartphones and tablets.
Like older tools you might have used before, Fusion is able to take a document from an app that isn't installed on your PC and turn it into a PDF or some other format -- such as DOC or XPS -- that is easily readable. More remarkably, though, you can also assemble a custom document from docs originally written in multiple formats, add annotations such as highlights and hyperlinks, and then share the reassembled doc in PDF.
More specifically, Fusion is designed to let you read and work with docs from over 100 different formats, including about 50 different word processors, 20 spreadsheets, eight presentation packages, and dozens of image formats. On the plus side, the supported office productivity packages include versions for both Windows and Mac. Unlike some other conversion tools, however, Fusion doesn't support eBook reader formats, for example.
Easy-to-use interface, glitchy installation
In an initial exploration of PDF Fusion, I found that it revolves around a few easy-to-use views for document handling and management. Installation, however, wasn't exactly a proverbial snap. After doing two system reboots, I was able to install the software. Yet Windows XP mistakenly sensed the presence of an unsupported printer driver, and delivered an error message warning me direly against using the just installed software.
Slightly daunted but forging ahead anyway, I discovered the interface to be intuitive and easy-to-use. You can open up and automatically convert documents through a navigation bar on the right-hand side of the screen. After opening the documents, you can easily toggle between three different views to read and work with them.
In Page View, you can hone in on an individual page, performing tasks such as rotating, cropping, and bookmarking. In Flick View, you can flip through the pages in a doc as though they were pages in a book. In Assembly View, on the other hand, you can produce a single doc from pages extracted from several documents in multiple formats.
PDF Fusion also contains a separate tool called Batch Converter which can be used for converting either single or multiple files.
I don't know about you, but I'm kind of leery about installing the full versions of office suites such as Microsoft Office on my PC. All that bloatware can act as a major resource hog.
Consequently, I tend to install only Microsoft Word, relying on dedicated readers -- separately downloadable through Microsoft -- for dealing with the occasional PowerPoint presentation of Excel spreadsheet I might receive in my email.
Theoretically, at least, a document conversion tool such as Fusion should provide a better approach, since it avoids the need to download separate readers for each application. However, although Fusion worked well with other file formats I tried to convert, I ran into some compatibility issues with conversion of Microsoft Office files.
While working in Batch Converter, for example, I received multiple error messages around file compatibility when trying to convert a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation on global warming into PDF. On the other hand, conversion of a chart formatted in Bitmap (BMP) into PDF worked as smooth as glass.
However, when I later attempted to convert the same PPT presentation in Assembly View, the conversion went off without a hitch. I was also able to convert the same presentation to XPS.
I didn't have quite as much luck in Assembly View with a Word doc from My Documents. In my initial attempt to convert it, I got an error message saying that Fusion was unable to import the doc. A few seconds later, though, Fusion went ahead and converted the doc anyway.
In online forums, some other users have also pointed to installation problems and difficulties in converting MS Office files. Others, though, have been 100 percent delighted with Fusion's results.
Once in a while, you'll still come across a document written in a format totally indecipherable to the software applications typically installed on contemporary PCs.
You might have an old CD or even a floppy disk lying around the house containing potentially useful information that you'd like to access. For instance, maybe your grandfather used a now ancient edition of WordPerfect 30 years ago to write up the family history.
When I tried opening up a WordPerfect WPS file from Assembly View, the conversion worked out quite successfully. (Somehow I wasn't entirely surprised, however, since WordPerfect is also a Corel product.)
Although Fusion can come in handy for opening old docs, you might come across a better alternative for this task, too. For example, online converters such as Zamzar -- available free of charge -- eliminate the need to download and install additional software to your PC.
Scenario #3: Sharing a doc between a Windows PC and some other device, owned by you, a friend, or family member.
To see how well Fusion really works at outputting into PDF, I used my chart, newly converted from BMP to PDF, as a starting point.
Following the file conversion, I e-mailed it to myself as an attachment, turned on my Android phone, went back to the mailbox, and opened the PDF attachment on my phone, which had been preinstalled with Acrobat Reader for Android. This all worked like a charm.
Again, though, other tools are available that might give you equivalent or even better results. Unlike PDF converters from Nuance or Nitro, for example, Fusion can't convert a scanned-in document into a searchable PDF.
Also with regard to cross-platform doc sharing, you can't perform the actual doc conversion on Android or any other non-Windows OS, since Fusion runs only on Windows.
In my opinion, this is where Fusion really shines. Without investing in the much pricier Adobe Acrobat, you can produce your own custom PDF doc.
I used Fusion to create a custom PDF document combining the converted PPT presentation on global warming with my BMP chart, WordPerfect doc, and Corel's own users manual for PDF Fusion (which is written, of course, in PDF). I then annotated my new work of art with sticky-note comments.
Corel PDF Fusion lets you perform lots of different document management tasks within a single environment. You can use Fusion to minimize the number of applications installed on your PC, breathe new life into old documents, share information with non-Windows devices, and even produce custom PDF docs. Installation and file conversion can be erratic, and some other tools might be better at carrying out some of these individual functions. Still, at $69.99, Fusion can provide great value, depending on your doc management needs. Before buying the product, though, you should consider installing a free 30-day trial version to address any incompatibility issues that might crop up.
* Ratings averaged to produce final score
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