As far as PDF solutions go, you don’t have many options on Blackberry smartphones.  You’ve got the native “PDF to Go” app, which comes pre-installed with the Docs to Go suite.  One of third-party choices is “RepliGo Reader” by Cerience.  You can try it out for free, and it comes in at a pricey $14.99 for the premium version.  That’s three times more expensive than the Android version!  N4BB checks out RepliGo Reader 2.1.0.1 for Blackberry and the native PDF to Go on BB7 smartphones to see which comes out on top.  I will be using a Blackberry Torch 9860 running OS 7.1 in this review.

User Interface:

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To really test the limits of RepliGo Reader and PDF to Go, I opened up a 12Mb PDF flyer from Popeye’s supplements.   Let’s compare the native PDF to Go app and RepliGo Reader.
We see this for RepliGo:

And this is from the native PDF to Go:

Each of the 12 pages takes a full 15 seconds to fully render.  And you’ll notice that neither of the PDF apps fully rendered the flyer properly, each messing up identically.  There are still red X’s in the same places.  Overall, both apps performed the same and were equal in speed.

Although the scrolling itself is smooth, and the loaded pages are cached in memory, you’ll be again frustrated by the fact that RepliGo reader doesn’t hold the cached data on the screen while scrolling.  It’s like the app cannot display a PDF and scroll at the same time.  This makes it impossible to see which page you’re on if it wasn’t for the page number indicator.  I also occasionally saw the black clock of doom while panning.

It’s a different story with PDF to Go.  It also caches the pages, but continually renders them as you scroll.  It has kinetic scrolling, which is still relatively smooth even with a 12Mb PDF.  I also saw a little bit of black clocking with PDF to Go as well.

If I go easy on RepliGo and open up a 61Kb text-only PDF, the file opens up instantly and completely.  The scrolling is again very smooth, but the same visual frustrations occur.  The cached text always has to be reloaded, giving it a choppy feel.  It doesn’t help that the scrolling isn’t kinetic.  Kinda reminds me of my old Storm 9530 running OS 4.7.  You can press “Up” or “Down” to scroll as well, but honestly, nobody likes doing that.

Another disappointing thing is the lack of pinch-to-zoom in RepliGo Reader.  You can change the zoom manually using the menu button or pressing the magnifying glass icon in the bottom center of the screen, but that’s pretty lame.

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You can change the view to “Whole Page” or “Reading View”.  Whole Page fits the PDF to the screen width, while reading view disables the panning to the side and changes the zoom to 100%.  Reading view actually works well with text-only PDFs, as the text is made clear and wraps to fit the screen.

In PDF to Go, you have the equivalent options.   Reading View is just called “Column View”, and you have pinch to zoom anyway so who cares about “Whole Page”.

Here is the text-only PDF on RepliGo Reader.

And here is the text-only PDF on PDF to Go.

Features:

So, what kind of features does RepliGo Reader have?  Not too many actually.  You can re-save the PDF, send it via email, find words, check the properties of the PDF file, check for updates…and that’s about it.

There’s not much to be said about saving a PDF in this app.  It works, that’s all that’s important.  Emailing a PDF is the same story.  It works.

You can check the properties of a PDF file, which just tells you some of the information about the author, size, data modified, and other information you might want to know.

Opening up RepliGo Reader, it shows a list of all the recent PDF documents you’ve opened.  You can open another file and start typing the name to find a specific file inside the folder you’re currently in.  Not the most useful feature, but a welcomed one.

You can also search for a word in a PDF using RepliGo Reader.  It will find all the words in the document, and draw a green box around them.   The first found word is highlighted in green.  You can cycle through the words by pressing “next” or “previous”.

But guess what? PDF to Go does exactly the same!  It has the whole green boxes and everything too!  You can send a PDF over BBM, and even Bluetooth though.  PDF to Go shows all your recent files, and even allows you to pick favourites within a nice integration with Docs to Go.  And yes, it can also show the properties of the PDF file too.

Another feature of RepliGo Reader is text selection.  Wow.  And yes, technically it does work.  But you can’t use your fingers to select text directly, unlike PDF to Go.

Conclusions:

Ok, I’ve got a joke for you.  What’s grey and white and laggy all over?  Yes!  You’ve got it, RepliGo Reader!  Seriously, I don’t think I’m being too harsh in saying that this app is a complete waste of time and money if you own any modern Blackberry.  I cannot recommend buying this app no matter how much alcohol is involved.

PDF to Go is actually a decent offering, especially since its free AND included.  It has all the necessary requirements of a PDF reader but actually delivers much more at no extra cost whatsoever.

Yes, RepliGo Reader works.  But so does the native PDF to Go app!  The native app in BB7 can do everything RepliGo can do, PLUS send PDF files to BBM contacts or over Bluetooth, and has pinch-to-zoom, and is integrated with a nice document suite, and has two-finger text selection,  and has kinetic scrolling and probably much more, and did I mention its free?

I give RepliGo Reader for Blackberry one star for showing up, another star for sorta working, but take away that star because it’s just too expensive.  I’m giving it a generous 1 out of 5 stars.  This app probably was less of a rip-off 5 years ago, when older pre-Jurassic era Blackberry smartphones roamed the earth.

Look, I know that RepliGo Reader on Android is a completely different story.  It has features.  It actually works well.  It is much cheaper.   It’s just that this Blackberry version is just abysmal due to the lack of support for the platform for whatever reason.  The win obviously goes to PDF to Go by a long shot, which scores a 3 out of 5 for its functionality and actually trying.  But I’ll give RepliGo Reader one thing, it does have a decent “About” screen.