Have you ever gotten a file in PDF and wanted it to be a word document? How about a file in a format your computer can’t open? Ever wanted to read a great article but didn’t have the time, even though you have plenty of time during your commute (too bad you have to watch the road to drive).
Well, Zamzar.com may be the answer to your addressing your needs.
A while back someone sent me a pptx file and I don’t have the latest version of PowerPoint, so I did a search and found Zamzar – which promptly converted the file from pptx to ppt for me and I was a happy camper.
Not that much later, a good industry colleague, Lisa Thumann, noted in her Twitter stream (@lthumann) that Zamzar could convert to an mp3 file also. WOW!! I’d been searching around for a product to do just that very thing. I’d found a couple of Web 2.0 product that did this same thing, but neither really met my needs. Zamzar is a free service.
You visit their web page at http://www.zamzar.com and to convert any document you use the browse button to locate your document. You then tell Zamzar what format you want the document converted into. Next, you provide your email address and then click the convert button. The file formats you can convert to will depend on what the file format is of the document you are trying to convert, but Zamzar is smart enough to know what can be converted to what.
The full list of files it can convert to are: Image (bmp, dwg, dxf, gif, ico, jpg, pcx, png, tga, tiff, wbmp, wmf), Doc (csv, doc, docx, html, odp, ods, odt, pcx, pdf, ppt, pptx, ps, pub, rtf, txt, wpp, wps, xls, xlsx, xml), Music (aac, ac3, flac, m4a, mmf, mp3, ogg, ra, ram, wav, wma), Video (3gp, 3gz, avi, flv, gvi, iphone, ipod, m4v, mov, mp4, mpg, ogg, rm, rmvb, vob, wmv), and Other (7z, tar.bz2, cab, lzh, rar, tar, tar.gz, yz1, zip). I submitted a 3MB file (more or less) called ELI Authentic Learning for the 21st Century.pdf to be converted to an mp3 file (to eventually be uploaded to my iphone to listen to in the car or on the train).
The file took roughly 20 minutes to be uploaded, converted, and sent to me by email. This was quick. I’ve had files take MUCH longer than that. Zamzar does have a paid for service. The free services only lets you convert up to a 100MB file each time, does not give you online storage, and queues your request at the bottom of the chain (behind those who have paid accounts). The more you pay, the larger the file you can covert and the quicker you get your file converted (that seems fair to me). 100MB might seem like a lot, and if you are only doing documents, it fine – but once you start converting music or video files, the 100MB might not be enough.
My first pass at trying to convert a pdf to mp3 was not so successful. I’ve done so from .doc to mp3 no problems. The file I got back from Zamzar was a 1kb file (so I knew there was a problem right there) and it played nothing. I tried converting it again. I knew this would take me outside of the 15 minutes usually put aside for a SnapSession, but I felt this topic was worth the extra time.
While I was waiting for the conversion I decided to try converting the pdf to a doc and then to an mp3, just to see if there was a difference. Even though I converted the mp3 file first, the doc file came back first – which only makes sense (it’s smaller). This time it took close to 30 minutes. The mp3 file came back about 5 minutes later.
The mp3 file once again came back as a 1kb file. The word document came back not as a word document but as a picture document in word. Which means it cannot be edited. I’m going to write to tech support to find out why this is happening and I’ll do another blog posting once I know why. One of the things about a free account is that they have a 1 week window to respond to support requests. Let’s see how long it really takes.