The Mac Observer is pleased to announce the recipients of our Editors' Choice Awards from Macworld Expo 2009. We chose nine products that we feel represent the best of the best of the products being shown at the conference and expo -- and in a year where there were so many very cool, new, and great products announced and shown for the first time, making these choices was very difficult.
There are no categories, and they are listed in no particular order. Without further ado, below you'll find the recipients of the The Mac Observer's Editors' Choice Awards for 2009.
Things and Things for the iPhone, Cultured Code
Things, for Mac and iPhone, from Cultured Code is an extremely well thought-out task management solution. It's incredibly simple to use, and though it has a lot of great features, it doesn't impose its structure on you. If you simply want to log tasks/to-dos in the application and tick them off as you go, no problem. If you want to assign start dates and due dates, no problem. Tags, you got it. But you don't *have* to use any of it if you just want to simply manage your tasks. On top of all that, it sync automatically over WiFi when the application is running on both your computer and iPhone, keeping both up-to-date.
FileMaker Pro 10, FileMaker
With version 10, FileMaker has made a quantum leap with their database platform. It sports a new user interface that makes it feel like the honest-to-goodness Mac app that it is, but the beauty goes far beneath the skin. New features include saved searches, script triggers, and direct SMTP support, all things the FileMaker development community has had to code their way around for years. Now with support for all this, development time can be more productive and new users to FileMaker will find a lower barrier-to-entry for development.
PDFPen 4, SmileOnMyMac
Editing PDFs can be an intimidating and daunting task without the right tools. SmileOnMyMac's PDFpen 4 fits that bill perfectly thanks to its easy to use features. It lets users edit their PDFs, combine documents, create PDF forms, add signatures and graphics, and version 4 adds even more useful features such as the ability to import Microsoft Word documents, scan documents into PDF, convert scanned type to editable text, and more. PDFpen 4 can handle almost everyone's PDF editing needs, and it won't hurt your pocketbook, either.
Google Mobile for iPhone, Google
There are few applications that just work exactly the way you would expect the first time you launch them. Google Mobile is one of them. With its simple user interface and amazingly accurate voice-recognition-based search, you can find what you're looking for and get to it immediately. Need to find out where a restaurant is? Just say the name into your iPhone and, in most cases, before you get the phone back in front of you the name, location, phone number, and map to the restaurant is right in front of you. Google has put some serious mojo into making this app work, and it shows.
Toast 10 Titanium, Roxio
Toast has been a mainstay in the Mac world for many, many years, but with Toast 10 Titanium, Roxio has really pushed the envelope in delivering media-related tools that both fill the gaps of and go beyond iLife. From burning to Blu-ray, to extracting video from DVDs, to audio capture, to one-click disk copying, to moving video content to your TiVo, to making it easy to format your content for and push it to your iPhone and iPod, Apple TV, and even your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, Toast 10 Titanium can do it (and much more). Look for our detailed review in coming weeks.
Freeway Pro 5, Softpress
Designing a professional looking Web site requires very good coding and very good design skills -- a combination that isn't always found in the Web design world. Freeway Pro 5 helps overcome that problem by giving designers the tools they need to build great sites, strictly with a GUI, without requiring them to write any HTML, and it does it all without compromising on visual and behind-the-scenes code quality and clarity. With a modest learning curve and an intuitive interface, Freeway creates visually stunning, interactive and standards-compliant Websites.
OmniFocus for the iPhone, The Omni Group
Finding the right application to manage your tasks is great, and it's even better when there's a companion app for your iPhone or iPod touch. OmniFocus for the iPhone is a perfect example: It fits well with its Desktop brother, includes the features you need to organize your tasks, builds task lists based on your current location, captures voice notes and pictures, and synchronizes with your Mac via MobileMe or WebDAV servers. OmniFocus is a powerful organizational tool, and OmniFocus for the iPhone does a great job of keeping your tasks under control when you are away from your Mac.
DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display, HP
Color critical work places high demands on displays, and not many LCD models are up to the task. HP jumped into that market with both feet with its DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display. The 24-inch 30-bit LCD-technology display It sports DisplayPort 1.1, HDMI 1.3, DVI-I, analog, component, S-video, and composite inputs, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, tilt and swivel, height adjustment, pivot rotation, a built-in 4-port USB hub, and front-facing controls. The killer features, however, are that it can display over a billion colors -- which means it can fully display most color spaces -- and it used RGB LED backlighting for amazingly accurate colors. We have yet to find another display that matches the DreamColor's accuracy at a sub $2,000 price point.
WireTap Anywhere, Ambrosia Software
A tool whose usefulness is often only immediately recognized by geeks, WireTap Anywhere is the sort of thing that becomes infectious in your life once you understand it, especially if you do anything related to audio on your Mac. The concept is simple, yet powerful: WireTap Anywhere allows you to take the audio output from any Mac app or hardware input device and create it as an input for any audio application. You can, for example, take the audio being output by iChat and make it appear as an audio input system-wide (including in the Sound system preferences pane if that's your fancy!). You can even marry multiple devices together to appear as one aggregate device, the solution to many a Garage Band or Logic users' woes.