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TMO at MWSF - Announcing The Mac Observer Editors' Choice Award Winners for Macworld 2008

by , 6:25 PM EST, January 16th, 2008

The Mac Observer is pleased to announce the recipients of our first Editors' Choice Awards at Macworld San Francisco 2008. We chose 12 products that we feel represent the best of the best of the products being shown at Macworld -- 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 2008.

WireTap Studio, Ambrosia Software

WireTap Studio from Ambrosia Software gives you complete control of recording any audio on your Mac. Want to grab audio playing in a Web browser, or maybe record your voice and a song playing in iTunes at the same time? You can do it with WireTap Studio, and more importantly, you can do it easily. Once you've recorded your audio track, you can make basic edits, and output it in a variety of formats, or upload through FTP, send it to e-mail, or even drop it right into your iPhone for use as a ringtone. It's that level of control and ease of use that makes WireTap Studio a great Mac app, and a recipient of TMO's Editors' Choice Award.

Logic Studio, Apple Inc.

In September 2004, Apple released a major update to Logic 7 Pro, which at the time cost US$1,000. The new Logic Pro 8, however, was unexpectedly bundled with some friends: an intriguing new live-performance tool called Mainstage, the $99 Soundtrack Pro, and an astonishing 50 GB of royalty-free loops and libraries. The package, called Logic Studio, costs just $500. With all its built in instruments, effects, and tools, this product is a million-dollar recording studio in a box. Why does Logic Studio wins an Editor's Choice award? Because Mainstage and Delay Designer are truly innovative; because the myriad fixes and improvements in Logic Pro 8 demonstrate Apple's solid commitment to pro audio on the Mac; and because, with a bargain-basement price point, Logic Studio invites a whole new demographic of musicians and engineers to start making music.

MacBook Air, Apple Inc.

Apple's MacBook Air isn't for everyone, but its significance is in how many envelopes the company has pushed with this product. From getting Intel to design a new processor for the device to being able to make it thinner than any other (mostly) full featured laptop we've seen. Some will pick some nits about the non user-servicable battery or the lack of an optical drive, but in the ultralight laptop category, the MacBook Air has few, if any, peers.

Turbo.264, El Gato

If watching video wherever and whenever you want is the Shangri La of entertainment, then El Gato laid down the commuter rail to paradise with its Turbo.264. Whatever format your video starts in, Turbo.264 will get it ready for iTunes, Apple TV, iPod, or iPhone. It does it fast, without bogging down your CPU. With all the competing video formats, consumers are only going to get more and more frustrated as they find that they need to convert video into the formats they need. El Gato wins this Editor's Choice award for noticing early that a fast, easy-to-use video conversion dongle is only going to get more an more useful over time.

Fone2Phone, nova media

Scoring a new iPhone is great, but transferring the data from your old smart phone isn't always as cool of an experience. Thanks to Fone2Phone from nova media, however, that data shuffle is as simple as connecting your iPhone to your Mac. This one trick pony moves contacts, events, tasks, notes, bookmarks, photos, music and movies from many Motorola, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson phones to your Mac and then to your iPhone. The interface is simple and sleek, and makes the whole process a breeze.

OmniFocus, The Omni Group

OmniFocus, from The Omni Group, is a flexible task management tool. It offers a wide range of tools and features that allow you to control how you want to record, tag and receive alerts. Omni Focus works closely with iCal and Apple allowing you to use all of Mac OS X's features to stay on top of your life. As with seemingly all of The Omni Group's products, the company has developed a very Mac-oriented solution with OmniFocus that works very well, is easy to use, and is a cut above competing products.

Eye-Fi, Eye-Fi, Inc.

The Eye-Fi takes an elegant approach to solving the problem of wireless connectivity between your camera and your computer by adding that capability directly to a memory card, with the camera none with wiser. As soon as a picture is saved to the Eye-Fi, it can sent to iPhoto on your Mac, one of several leading online photo sharing, printing, social networking or blogging sites, or both. The Eye-Fi was selected because it's the first product to really do this job properly, and it brings wireless capabilities to any camera.

AW1, AudioEngine

AudioEngine is once again pushing high-quality audio forward, but with the introduction of the AW1, a wireless audio adapter, they company is pushing desktop audio, as well as just about anywhere else you might use speakers. The AW1 allows you to wirelessly connect a set of speakers to your audio source -- be it Mac, iPod, or stereo with a line out. At first blush, it might be easy to overlook just how cool that is, and that's largely because AudioEngine has made it look easy. The device uses a proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless signal to broadcast your audio between your source and your speakers, and it manages to handle that tricky task with aplomb. The result means you can put your speakers where you want with one less set of wires cluttering up your desk or floor.

Drobo, Data Robotics

The Drobo from Data Robotics has been described as the world's first storage robot, but that barely begins to describe what it does. Drobo makes large scale storage simple for folks who have huge collections of music, movies, digital photographs or any kind of file. It comes with space for four 3.5-inch hard drives. It doesn't care what capacity the drives are, lets you swap in new drives and pull out old drives on the fly, and it handles all of the hard work for you. Drobo connects to your computer via USB and its software package figures out where to put everything for you. All you have to do is plug it and and Drobo does the worrying for you. In short, Drobo is RAID for the masses.

PDFPen Pro 3

Viewing a PDF document is one thing, but editing one is a different thing all together. PDFpen Pro 3 from SmileOnMyMac Software empowers users with the tools they need to edit their PDFs, create PDF forms, add signatures and graphics, and more -- all without breaking the bank or throwing a steep learning curve at you. Don't let this easy to use app's style throw you: It's a power-house PDF editor ready to meet the needs of pros and average users alike.

Photoshop Elements, Adobe, Inc.

Adobe changed the game for amateur digital photography with the launch of Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac. Instead of simply offering a few basic image filters and automated editing routines, this all new version sports full-on Photoshop power without the Photoshop learning curve. Along with a new interface, it includes step-by-step walkthroughs for the novice user and hands-on feature control for more experienced users. All that, and it includes Adobe Bridge CS3 for image management and metadata tagging, too.

Bento, Filemaker, Inc.

Database creation and management for mere mortals just became reality thanks to FileMaker's Bento. This whiz-bang application makes building databases drag-and-drop easy, includes a slew of sharp looking templates, and can even work with your iCal and Address Book data. Think of it as your new best friend for linking together all of the important information in your life exactly the way you want it.

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