Adobe Reader is big, bloated and heavy. It eats 200 MBs of your hard disk and half your processor (while running), just for opening PDF files. You probably knew all this and switched over to Foxit Reader ages ago. Foxit has always been a great alternative to Adobe, but it has developed it’s own problems of late. While installing and using Foxit, you’ve got to dodge a dozen toolbars, advertisements, and “recommended” updates (most of which aren’t free) to maintain Foxit as the lean, fast thing it previously was. Personally, I’d rather recommend a default installation of Adobe Reader than that of Foxit, as you’re going to end up with all the added crapware in the latter.
Open source utility Sumatra PDF improves upon Foxit’s speed and cuts out the crap to become one seriously recommended tool in your software arsenal. Recently out of beta, Sumatra is downright barebones and ugly; you might even throw up the first time it loads on your desktop (see below). But let me tell you this – Sumatra does what it says it does, and it does that well. Your PDFs will load just fine, and you can read them as you do on Adobe or Foxit. Sumatra also comes in a handy portable version, which you can carry around in your thumb drives.
I’ve been using Sumatra PDF for the last few weeks and I don’t have any issues with it. However, it does miss a few bells and whistles that might be important to you. First, it doesn’t have an annotation tool (found in Foxit). Second, it doesn’t create browser plug-ins. Every time you click a PDF link on your browser, Sumatra will open it in it’s own window instead of fitting into the browser. I actually think it’s good (your browser won’t crash or hog memory because of the PDF file), but you may have other views.
In the end, Sumatra does everything with a PDF that 90% of the people require, and if you’re one such them, you better use it in place of some bloated alternative.
Pros : open source (no crapware); small and fast; portable or installable – depending on your need; regularly updated
Cons : ugly interface; no annotation
Rating : 4/5
You may also have a look at some other PDF tools that we’ve previously mentioned.