Quick Pick: PDF Cabinet for iPad

Besides using my iPad 3 for surfing the web, working on TMA articles when I’m on the road or watching movies/TV shows, I love my PDF apps for reading ebooks, documents and magazines. For the longest time, my two favorite have been the ever reliable GoodReader and PDF Expert. However, I recently came across a lesser known app in the crowded genre by Com-Tec-Co - PDF Cabinet – and it’s quickly won me over. Not only is it well designed, but it’s also got one of the most intuitive and easy to use annotations interface I’ve come across.

Tap anywhere on the screen, drag your finger to choose desired annotation tool

What’s to like:

  • Making annotations can be done by simply tapping and holding anywhere on the PDF file, and then moving your finger around to select your options. Icons branch off if there’s a submenu, like for color, stroke size etc. (see image above)
  • Simply drag your finger from right to left on text to create perfectly straight highlights
  • A history of annotations is automatically created so you can always revert back to an older save
  • The ability to duplicate and create multiple versions of your PDF file (for when you want to keep an original copy around and one for notes/annotations for instance)
  • Drag and drop PDF files into/out of user created “Cabinets” (folders)
  • You can “pull out” a thumbnails preview pane from the left side of the screen to quickly navigation around larger PDF documents. Works great while in portrait mode
  • Protect files and folders with AES256 encryption
  • A unique real-time collaboration mode via bluetooth/Wifi that lets annotate the same document at the same time together with colleagues/study mates.

What’s not to like:

  • Currently there’s no way of syncing with popular cloud storage services (Dropbox, iCloud and others), though this is coming in an update
  • The “heavy setting” in line thickness for annotations is a little fuzzy on Retina Display. Could use higher resolution for sharper effect
  • Can’t edit arrow and pencil annotations (move/resize etc) once they’re made, though you can with text comments
  • PDF pages render slower than other apps like PDF Expert and Goodreader
  • Types of annotations and color choices not as extensive as the competition
  • Can’t create a cabinet within a cabinet (sub folders) yet
  • No support for signatures

While Cabinet PDF isn’t a perfect PDF app (slow page renders, limited types of annotations), it’s certainly a very promising one with some highly desirable features. After using its gesture based annotations system, it’s hard to go back to the more traditional user interface. And with the iPad mini soon to be released, the modestly priced PDF Cabinet ($2.99) should make for a great companion for reading PDF files on the 7.9″ screen.

PDF Cabinet Com Tec Co, PDF Cabinet – $2.99

Below are two more tutorial videos that should give you a better idea of some of the app’s features (namely annotations).

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