The Mac Observer’s Editors Choice Awards from Macworld|iWorld Expo 2012 are out, and just like previous years, there were plenty of great products for us to check out. We chose eight products that we feel represent the best of what was shown at the conference and expo for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.
There are no categories, and they are listed in no particular order, but each award winner wowed us in its own unique way.
Hub Innovations’ Anvil stand for iPad and iPad 2 is one of those things you just want to play with when you hold it. The company describes it as a “solid aluminum mechanical stand,” and it serves a couple of purposes, both of which it does well. It will prop up your iPad so you can look at it at multiple angles, but it has a stabilizer bar you can deploy if you want to tip your iPad back and type on it. In either use, the Anvil holds on to your iPad securely, and we found that it will even accommodate thinner iPad cases, too. While its functionality is useful, it’s really the Anvil’s form that won it an Editor’s Choice Award—it just looks cool. Available in black or silver, the Anvil is priced at $69.95. Booth 320.
Fantastical 1.2 from Flexibits makes it much easier to add appointments to iCal, or pretty much any other popular calendaring system. It converts natural text into events, complete with the start
and end times, notes, and alarms. It can set up repeating events, assign your appointments to the appropriate calendar, shows your schedule, and even supports several languages — at the same time. Fantastical does its magic from your menubar where it makes event entry a quick process no matter what calendaring app you use. It’s priced at US$19.99 and is available at the Mac App Store and Flexibits website. Booth 228.
iStopMotion from Boinx Software turns your iPad into a stop motion animation editor that lets you export your movies to YouTube or the iPad camera roll. It includes camera overlays so you can align your animation frames, a timeline view for scrubbing through your movie projects, instant playback when editing, and your exported projects can be edited in iMovie, too. Since the iPad 2’s cameras aren’t as high quality as they could be, Boinx offers a free companion app that turns your iPhone 4 or 4S into a remote wireless camera that feeds shots directly into your timeline. iStopMotion for the iPad costs $9.99, but is temporarily on sale for $4.99, and is available for download at Apple’s iTunes-based App Store. Booth 818.
Smile’s PDFpen for the iPad follows in the footsteps of its big brother on the Mac by letting you edit and view PDF documents on your iPad. You can complete forms, add signatures, fix type problems like misspellings, email files, and even store documents in iCloud so your files are always up to date on your iPad and Mac. PDFpen for the iPad costs $9.99 and is available at Apple’s iTunes-based App Store. Booth 228.
The iPhone 4 and 4S cameras are nice, but not as versatile as they could be since you can’t swap out lenses. The iPro Lens System from Schneider Optics works around that by adding wide angle and fish eye lenses to your phone, and thanks to the included case you don’t have to glue on special attachement rings. The high quality optics make for great photos, and the lenses store in tube that also works as a camera handle. The iPro Lens System costs $199. Booth 423.
WebIS’s Pocket Informant 2 fixes a big problem many iPhone owners deal with: quick access to calendars, contacts and tasks without switching apps. It combines all three and goes step beyond by showing also showing notes and displaying your important information in a way that makes it easy to stay on top of what you need to get done without resorting to Calendar’s list view no matter how busy your schedule is. Pocket Informant 2 is priced at US$9.99 and is available at Apple’s iTunes-based App Store. Booth 936.
The ability to print from your iDevice is great, but there’s only one issue, the number of printers that support this feature is relatively small. There are some software solutions to enable this functionality, but using a computer as a print server is an expensive proposition. The introduction of the xPrintServer from Lantronix fills a niche perfectly. Plug the device into your network, connect to it using Wi-Fi via your iDevice, and the printers will now be available via the Print button. Plus, the price is right at $149.
Want your own online storage service so you can share files between your Mac and iOS devices, but aren’t interested in relying on cloud-based services? CloudFTP from HyperShop has you covered. CloudFTP connects to your network via Wi-Fi and lets you share a USB hard drive with up to three devices. It also links with online services like iCloud and Dropbox so you can still backup data online if you want, and it can create its own Wi-Fi network when one isn’t available. CloudFTP costs $99.95. Booth 702.