The productivity applications that anchor Microsoft Office—Excel, PowerPoint and Word—are chock-full of features for embedding images and objects into companies office documents.
While media-rich documents can offer advantages, their typically large file sizes can quickly add up to clogged mailboxes, brimming storage servers and long waits to open these large files.
Enter NXPowerLite 3.0.2, the latest in a series of file compression utilities from Neuxpower Solutions, which makes it easy for users of Microsoft Office to squeeze some of the fat out of their rich documents.
In eWEEK Labs tests of NXPowerLite 3.0.2, which was shipped in February, we were impressed by the products ability to reduce the sizes of image- and object-laden files while maintaining the quality of these documents.
Whats more, unlike conversion to PDF or another, similarly compressed format, the documents we squeezed with NXPowerLite remained editable using the same office applications that had been used to create them.
NXPowerLite works on PCs running Windows 2000 or later, and Office 2000 or later. The product is a stand-alone application that doesnt require any installation process.
We ran NXPowerLite on a Windows XP system installed with Office XP. We tested the product both with documents we created with our test setup and with Office documents we collected elsewhere.
The default XML-based file formats for Office 2007 and OpenOffice.org tend to produce smaller file sizes, but considering the large base of users attached to the older, binary Office format (which Office 2007 still supports) NXPowerLite should come in handy for some time. According to Neuxpower, theres a new version of NXPowerLite in the pipeline that will further compress Office 2007s new file format; the update will be free for users of the current version of the product.
That said, we would definitely like to see the NXPowerLite extend its compression software to serve heavily burdened embedded documents such as those found within Adobe InDesign files.
The trial version of the product allows users to compress 10 documents any way they like. A full version of NXPowerLite costs $45.
NXPowerLite offered us five grades of compression—normal, extra, high-quality, mobile device and custom—a range that gives users ample choice in striking the right balance between size reduction and quality.
In our first run, we chose “normal” compression for a 4.7MB, eight-page PowerPoint document that was half JPEG images and half text. Once wed selected the file for compression, NXPowerLite notified us that our file contained embedded objects and asked us whether we wished to “flatten” our document and convert its objects into pictures. We opted to flatten the file, and NXPowerLite reduced it from its original 4.7MB to only 423KB.
We ran the file through again, this time opting against flattening, and our file dropped more modestly in size to 1.7MB.
On another run, with flattening and “extra” compression enabled, our file made it down to 323KB. With both the normal and the extra compression, we detected zero differences in quality between the compressed and uncompressed files in either printed or on-screen incarnations.
Rounding out the compression options, NXPowerLites high-quality compression setting squeezed our document to 1MB, and the mobile device compression setting shrank the file down to 127KB.
We found a significant drop in document quality only using the mobile device compression setting, under which our text remained clear, but our images turned out highly pixelated. Considering, however, that the mobile device mode might be used for cursory review purposes—tiny screens lend themselves to only so much poring over—the image quality for the mobile device setting did not bother us.
NXPowerLite also features a batch processing option, which allows users to compress several files at once and e-mail the results.
In our tests, we ran into trouble when we attempted to process a batch of five documents (three PowerPoint presentations and two Word documents). Though the program did create high-quality compressions of all five documents (originally totaling 142MB, NXPowerLite compressed the files into a more modest 26.5MB), it was unable to e-mail the batch to neither a Microsoft Outlook account nor a Google mail account. Instead, the product gave us the error message, “The messaging interface has returned an unknown error.”
Other batch processing attempts, such as when we e-mailed three compressed documents (originally 16.1MB and compressed to 12MB), were successful.
Technical Analyst Tiffany Maleshefski can be reached at [email protected].