Picking the Winners

When I first arrived at Macworld last summer, my boss told me that I’d be overseeing the Editors’ Choice Awards—a.k.a. the Eddys—this year. Then he smiled. That kept happening—I’d tell people I was working on the Eddys, and they’d get a funny glint in their eyes. Sometimes they even laughed. Now I know why. They’ve all been through the Eddys before. (Editorial Director Jason Snell’s been through 11 of them.) They all know all too well the work that goes in to making sure we’re honoring truly the best products with an Eddy. First come the nominations, which are drawn from a pretty big field—as in, every product released between November 1 of last year and November 1 of this year is eligible for the award. Our editors and contributors nominate the products they feel best meet Eddy’s criteria: Quality, Utility, Innovation, Value, Excellence, and Reliability (memorably acronymed “QUIVER.”). Some of the nominees score well across all six categories; others might excel in just one or two.

Sounds like a pretty process, right? It is—until you realize that the first round of nominations yielded about 100 products. That meant it was time to whittle down the list a bit. Macworld editors spent weeks debating and arguing over the relative merits of each nominee. We had meetings where we went through the entire list, giving the thumbs up or (more often) down to the products that had survived that far. Between meetings, discussions raged on via e-mail, phone, and iChat. In the end, we arrived at 32 products ( Editor’s Note : not counting our two Readers’ Choice Award winners) that pretty much everyone could agree were indisputable winners. They were all over the spectrum of Mac hardware and software, from the obvious to the relatively obscure. But I think they represent the best of the Mac marketplace in 2004. You’ve got some solid hits by Apple (like the iMac, which is included in today’s Eddy installment ) as well as some real gems produced by a handful of passionate Mac developers. The entire Eddy process was, as Jason promised me, an excellent introduction to the Mac world.

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