Zamzar does a lot more than just PDF conversion. In fact, Zamzar bills itself as a “free online file conversion” service with support for converting document, image, music, video and compressed formats.
On the document side, which is primarily what we’re concerned with when dealing with PDF files, you can actually convert .csv, .doc, .docx, .odp, .ods, .odt, .ppt, .pptx, .pub, .rtf, .wpd, .wps, .xls and .xlsx documents into PDF files.
Going the other way, Zamzar will convert PDF files to .doc, .html, .odt., .pcx, .png .rtf and txt formats. So there is some mismatch between the formats you can convert to PDF versus the ones you can convert from PDF to another file type.
The online interface is simple to use. You can either load up the file you want converted yourself, or simply point to the url where the file is located.
In a simple test case of a 24-page 132-KB PDF file (the Magna Carta), Zamzar was able to painlessly convert the PDF to a word .doc file. The process was as simple as entering the URL of the file (the Magna Carta doc URl is something that Zamzar suggests), adding an email address where the link will be sent and then hitting convert. In our limited test, it took an average of three minutes to receive the Zamzar email in a Gmail account after hitting the convert button.
With the email you have to click back to Zamzar and then click again to get your download, which sure is a lot of clicking just to get your file. For the free service, Zamzar then stores your converted files for 24 hours from the time the conversion takes place. If you want to store files longer, Zamzar has a few paid offerings starting at $7 a month and going up to $49 depending on how much storage you need (http://www.zamzar.com/signup/?hs1#go).
The converted PDF-to-DOC file looked as it should with no noticeable variation, other than the usual font (TrueType versus Adobe postscript), which typically makes PDF files look crisper.
We also tested the conversion back the other way – that is, taking the new Word DOC file and then converting it back to PDF. The file once again turned out well, and there was no visible difference between the file we converted from the DOC to the actual original PDF. However, the re-converted PDF’s file size only totaled 94.1 KB, which was smaller than the original (before it got converted to DOC and then back) at 132 KB.
You can select a file that is located online to convert, but there is no option with which you can convert an entire Web page to PDF.
As a final test, we also took an Excel spreadsheet (XLS file format) with a comparison matrix of all the services used in this review and converted it to PDF. However, Zamzar did not handle the XLS file properly in our test. The PDF was improperly formatted splitting the spreadsheet across two pages. What Zamzar failed to do is recognized the proper width and orientation of the XLS file.