The 18th Annual Editors' Choice Awards

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by Macworld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

If 2001 was the year that Mac OS X finally arrived, full blown, on the scene, then 2002 was the year that the people who make Mac hardware and software accepted OS X as their own. This past year, the Mac development community gave us a slew of ingenious and intriguing products for Apple's new operating system, as well as old standbys updated to take advantage of the changes Apple's software engineers have wrought on the Mac platform.

So when it came time for Macworld 's editors to convene and choose the best products of the past year, we ended up looking at as many products from new faces as from old friends. The OS X transition has been bumpy, but if the products that have earned Editors' Choice Awards in this, our 18th year of bestowing these honors, are any indication, the Mac is entering a remarkable new era of innovation.

So, without any further ado, we present our favorite products from a remarkable year in the life of the Macintosh.


Business-Productivity Software

WINNER MYOB FirstEdge ($99; 800/322-6962, fills a long-standing need of Mac users who run small businesses--a full-featured business-management tool at an affordable price. With FirstEdge, MYOB provides the sales-tracking, invoicing, banking, and custom management features in its award-winning AccountEdge program, but without the high-end accounting features that are of little use to a one- or two-person operation. And at less than $100, FirstEdge helps you keep tabs on your revenue but doesn't ask you to part with too much of it.

RUNNERS-UP No one can dispute the position of AEC Software's FastTrack Schedule 8.0.1 ($299; 800/346-9413, as the preeminent project-management application on the Mac, but past versions of the program have been saddled with a clunky interface. Version 8's Aquafied interface makes this outstanding program easier to use and navigate. Chronos's StickyBrain 2.0.1 ($45; download, $40; 435/615-7335, is a fast, flexible data-organization tool that lets you easily grab text, graphics, and URLs from other applications. More important, the Sticky Browser feature helps you search for and find all the data you've gathered, with a minimum of fuss and effort.

Productivity Utility

WINNER Karelia Software's Watson 1.5 ($29;, puts a wealth of information--stock prices, phone numbers, Mac software updates, even baseball scores--at your fingertips, saving you the trouble of having to launch a browser to track down the data you need. Completely customizable, Watson can remember your personalized preferences to give you convenient, localized searching. While Apple has incorporated many of Watson's search capabilities into OS X 10.2, the latter's features can't match Watson's innovation and offerings.

RUNNERS-UP TLA Systems' DragThing 4.5.1 ($25;, offers OS X users a powerful alternative to the Dock and a way to organize their desktops with a utility that combines OS 9's Applications menu and Launcher into a single application. If you were to buy each of the utilities featured in Aladdin Systems' Ten for OS X 1.0.2 ($50; 800/732-8881,, you'd spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $170. Aladdin's suite of productivity-boosting OS X utilities gives you solid tools such as FruitMenu, LaunchBar, Limewire Pro, and WindowShade X for less than a third of that price.


WINNER Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos ($50; 800/953-7669, is more than just a sequel to the game that helped popularize the real-time-strategy genre. With a modernized look featuring polygonal 3-D graphics and several game-play enhancements that put a renewed emphasis on strategy, this version ratchets up the challenge and reward of playing the game. A richly detailed OS X-only editor that allows you to create your own Warcraft III worlds helps this game stand out further from the crowd.

RUNNERS-UP Aspyr Media's Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast ($50; 888/212-7797, captures all the excitement of using the Force--with none of the unfortunate lightsaber accidents. The game boasts some impressive scenery, extensive multiplayer options, and intelligent computer-controlled characters. MacSoft's Stronghold ($35; 763/249-7600, offers something for everyone in a blend of strategy game and city-building simulator that features multiple modes of play.

Science/Engineering Software

WINNER With Mathematica 4.2 ($1,880; 800/441-6284,, Wolfram Research released an upgrade that added new mathematics functions and an improved user experience to an already solid program. Users now have a feature-rich statistics package that includes analysis of variance, as well as a set of global-optimization functions that make Mathematica more useful for social science and business research. Anyone who relies on printed records for archival purposes or publication will also appreciate the improved word-processing features.

RUNNERS-UP The MathWorks' Matlab 6.5 ($1,900; 508/647-7000, is a welcome upgrade, offering improved application speed, programming options and graphical rendering of math functions for engineers, and much better Mac compatibility. Nemetschek's VectorWorks 10 ($895; 888/646-4223, shows off the company's 17 years of experience. This CAD application fully integrates 2-D-drafting and 3-D-modeling capabilities while providing users with a more powerful tool set.


WINNER Sophisticated Circuits' PowerKey Pro USB 650, Admin version ($299; 800/769-3773, is more than just an ordinary six-outlet power strip; its accompanying software puts the power in your hands. You can control when the power is on, schedule onetime and recurring events like waking up or shutting down your Mac, and assign keystrokes to control the power of other peripherals. Connecting the PowerKey Pro to a phone line gives you remote control, and the device also gives you the ability to restart Macs after system crashes or power failures.

RUNNERS-UP Any portable-Mac user who's had to untangle a rat's nest of peripheral cables will appreciate Kensington's PocketMouse Pro ($44; 800/235-6708, This compact optical mouse sports a retractable USB cord, so it's easy to store when you hit the road. Wacom has long set the standard for pen tablets, and the Wacom Cintiq 18sx ($3,449; 800/922-9348, upholds that tradition by incorporating a spring-loaded stand, adjustable levers, and other industrial-design improvements in an 18-inch tablet.

General-Purpose Printer

WINNER Thanks to Hewlett-Packard's marvel, the HP Color LaserJet 2500L ($999; 800/752-0900,, you can get a full-featured color laser printer for less than $1,000. This PostScript printer can churn out a full-color page from a cold start in 40 seconds, has a small footprint, and uses easy-to-swap consumables. When used with OS X's Printer Sharing, the Color LaserJet 2500L can serve a small workgroup with ease.

RUNNERS-UP The Canon i850 Photo Printer ($199; 800/385-2155, is a great general-purpose ink-jet printer that does a good job across the board--glossy photos, bright business reports, readable text documents, and more. If you're less concerned about glossy-photo printing and want more speed, try the Epson Stylus C82 ($149; 800/873-7766,, a solid and speedy ink-jet printer. It uses waterproof (and long-lasting) pigment inks that look great on almost every paper type.

System Enhancement Utility

WINNER St. Clair Software's Default Folder X 1.6.3 ($35;, gets our heartfelt hurrahs for making the little things in life--namely Open and Save dialog boxes--better for OS X users. The boxes work the way they should, giving you the ability to jump to a file or folder by pressing the first letter of its name. This utility even provides an easy way to assign hot keys to your favorite folders, making file navigation a process you won't think twice about.

RUNNERS-UP SkyTag Software's File Buddy 7.2.4 ($50; 919/933-9595, is an extremely useful utility that lets you work with your file system much more efficiently, create droplet apps to perform common tasks, and change all the nitty-gritty information about your files without hitting the command line. Proteron's MaxMenus 1.2.1 ($20; 402/932-3894, lets you create custom menus that include apps, documents, folders, and files, or any combination thereof, in four corners of your screen, as well as easily assign keystrokes.

Network-Management Software

WINNER Neon Software's NetMinder Ethernet 5.0 ($795; 800/334-6366, lets network administrators glean a huge amount of information about their Mac networks. This OS X-native network analyzer gets our nod for providing easy-to-use, extremely useful troubleshooting help while watching Ethernet packets, TCP/IP usage, and users' Web browsing--all of which can save you a huge amount of time on an everyday basis. And it costs thousands less than other analyzers.

RUNNERS-UP Neon Software's LANsurveyor 7.0.1 ($495; 800/334-6366, bridges the gap between troubleshooting and network-management applications by keeping track of exactly what's connected to your network and what's happening within it. Netopia's netOctopus 4.1 (10-user license, $650; 50-user license, $3,050; 510/814-5100, is a must for today's understaffed and oversubscribed IT support teams. Taking advantage of OS X's new network-specific features, it lets you keep your users' software up to date by running installer scripts remotely.


Web Publishing Software

WINNER Macromedia Flash MX ($499; 800/457-1774, adds significant power and polish to the industry standard for creating interactive Web animations and interfaces. In addition to OS X compatibility, the new version offers a more intuitive interface, enhanced timeline controls, the ability to embed video, and numerous under-the-hood improvements. Developers will appreciate the scripting additions, including colored syntax highlighting, code hinting, and more-powerful debugging tools.

RUNNERS-UP Web-design program Adobe GoLive 6.0.1 ($399; 800/833-6687, made its mark with improved code creation and support for database-driven content--including preconfigured server setups. Simply put, Macromedia Fireworks MX ($299; 800/457-1774, is one of the best programs available for creating and optimizing Web graphics. A revamped interface eliminates many of the workflow frustrations caused by previous versions, including the process of switching between vector and bitmap modes.

Music Software

WINNER Music sampling and synthesis have reached the next level with Propellerhead Software's Reason 2.0 ($399; distributed by M-Audio, 800/969-6434, Added to its impressive rack of virtual equipment are the Malstroem Graintable Synthesizer and NN-XT Advanced Sampler, and everything now works at 24-bit resolution. The program also includes two CDs of versatile samples.

RUNNERS-UP Ableton's Live 1.5 ($300; distributed by M-Audio, 800/969-6434, is a sequencing instrument that lets you use your Mac or MIDI keyboard to trigger and layer sounds. The intuitive interface and ability to change tempo without altering pitch make it great for live performances. Emagic's Logic Platinum 5.4 ($949; 530/477-1051,, the first pro-level sequencer to make the jump to OS X, includes a more robust Audio Engine, support for Apple's Audio Units technology, a new series of plug-ins, and real-time sample-rate conversion.


WINNER Apple may have given up on the CRT, but luckily for color pros, Sony hasn't. The Artisan Color Reference System ($1,799; 800/571-7669, combines a 21-inch Sony GDM-C520K Flat Trinitron monitor, a USB sensor, a display hood, and Artisan calibration software to provide one-button color calibration. This sleekly designed system offers accurate color for those who need it.

RUNNERS-UP The Apple Cinema HD Display ($3,499; 800/538-9696, not only is an inch bigger than the original Cinema Display but also has 40 percent more pixels--and it retains the bright, clear picture and clean, one-cable convenience of its predecessor. The Boxlight Cinema 17SF ($3,799; 800/884-6464, will make your business presentations shine, and you'll also appreciate its compact, 6.4-pound design as you carry it home each weekend: The Cinema 17SF will take your home entertainment center to the next level.

Professional Graphics Software

WINNER Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1 ($609; 800/833-6687, adds much-appreciated productivity features to an already stellar graphics program. In addition to a revamped painting engine, the new version also offers workspace and tool presets, a File Browser for searching and managing large numbers of images, and a new Healing Brush and Patch tools that do wonders for removing unwanted detail from your images. And most important, version 7 brings one of the Mac's most essential applications to OS X.

RUNNERS-UP No matter what you want to do with your images, CorelDraw Graphics Suite 11 ($529; 800/772-6735, probably has the tool you need. The new version offers numerous improvements, including a simplified interface, 3-Point drawing tools for creating vector shapes, and support for symbols. Image Doctor ($129; 888/921-7546,, a wonderful set of filters from Alien Skin Software, makes easy work of removing unwanted scratches, blemishes, JPEG compression artifacts, and even large objects from your photos.

Asset-Management Software

WINNER iView MediaPro 1.5.5, from iView Multimedia ($90, $80 download; [44] 207-223-8691,, manages your images, movies, and audio files. The basics of this low-priced program include speedy performance, navigation shortcuts, and several catalog display options. But you'll also find more-sophisticated features, such as support for AppleScript, ColorSync, and digital cameras' EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data. Throw in the ability to build Web pages, edit images, and archive assets to CD, and iView is a clear WINNER.

RUNNERS-UP Canto's Cumulus 5.5 Workgroup Edition ($995 plus $295 per client; 415/703-9800, was designed as a professional tool for creative companies with a truckload of assets, and it was one of the first professional asset managers to run on OS X. Apple Computer's iPhoto 1.1.1 (free; 800/538-9696, disproves the adage "You get what you pay for." Despite a few shortcomings, iPhoto is all many digital photographers need to manage and share their images.

Print-Publishing Software

WINNER Adobe InDesign 2.0.1 ($699; 800/833-6687, is as innovative as the first version but surpasses it with a usability that has drawn applause from print designers and service bureaus. Adobe managed to add features such as object transparency (which is not just for flashy effects) and port the application to OS X.

RUNNERS-UP DiamondSoft added OS X functionality and the powerful System Font Handler to Font Reserve Single User 3.1.1 ($90; download, $100; 415/381-3303, Extensis's Suitcase 10.1.3 ($100; 800/796-9798, now runs as an application in OS X, easily controls Classic fonts, and otherwise retains its familiar interface.

3-D Software

WINNER With Maya Complete 4.5, by Alias|Wavefront ($1,999; 877/405-6645,, this premier 3-D modeling and animation tool has at last reached parity with its Windows counterpart. The program is now faster and easier to use, thanks to numerous enhancements, including an improved interface, an expanded tool set, and new support for dual processors. Designers will also appreciate its new subdivision-surface modeling feature, which lets you build lifelike characters with less effort than traditional NURBS modeling requires.

RUNNERS-UP Axeledge 1.5, by MindAvenue ($395; download, $385; 866/646-3283,, offers intuitive yet powerful tools for creating interactive 3-D content for Web sites--regardless of your design background. Features include character-animation tools, an importer for LightWave files, and HTML-export tools. Electric Image's Universe 5.0 ($1,295; 949/481-6660, is the second major upgrade to this top-notch renderer this year. The program offers lightning-fast rendering, new character-animation tools, Global Illumination light objects, and multiprocessor support.


Digital Video Software

WINNER Apple's Final Cut Pro 3.02 ($999; 800/538-9696, is a giant leap forward for affordable video editing. Now running natively in OS X, it adds color-correction tools and many software-only real-time transitions and effects previews. Its new OfflineRT format allows you to store and edit hours of footage on a PowerBook. Also included is Boris Calligraphy, for better titling, and new integration with DVD Studio Pro, for exporting chapter and compression markers.

RUNNERS-UP If you use a high-end Avid editing system, Avid Xpress DV 3.5 ($1,699; 800/949-2843, should make you feel right at home--you can share user profiles between the two and even bring your Xpress DV projects into high-end Avid systems for finishing. The program also provides more than 100 real-time effects and great color correction. Boris Red 2.5.2 ($1,595; 888/772-6747, brings an impressive set of compositing and animation tools to OS X and can work as a plug-in within your video-editing software.

DV Camcorder

WINNER The digital-video revolution just got a boost with the introduction of the three-CCD Panasonic AG-DVX100 ($3,795; 800/528-8601, The AG-DVX100 is the first MiniDV digital camcorder to capture action at a filmlike 24 frames per second. Filmmakers will marvel at the warm tones and beautiful color saturation this new camera can produce, and they will be wowed by the ability to customize just about any of its features of the camera.

RUNNERS-UP Canon gets nods this year for two stellar products. The single-CCD Canon Optura 200MC ($1,500; 800/652-2666, aims to help those with consumer budgets achieve near-professional results with excellent image stabilization and color accuracy. The Canon GL2 ($2,400; 800/652-2666,, with its three CCDs and 20x optical zoom, was designed with the video professional in mind.


WINNER For speed and bundled software, it's hard to top Yamaha's CRW-F1ZDX ($280; 800/492-6242, The CD-RW drive features remarkable 44x write and 24x rewrite speeds, and with software that includes Adobe Photoshop LE 5.0 for OS 9, MusicMatch Jukebox, Dantz Retrospect Express 5.0, and Toast 5 Lite, it ships with one of An Apple update to OS X has nullified the one limitation it had when it was released--incompatibility with iTunes 3.

RUNNERS-UP CMS Peripherals' ABSplus ($279-$599; 714/424-5520, offers Mac users a quick and easy way to start backing up their data with an integrated software-hardware product. Just install the software and plug in the FireWire drive (which comes in a variety of capacities for desktop and portable Macs), and ABSplus will copy any new or changed files without requiring any configuration. WiebeTech's FireWire DriveDock ($140-$160; 316/744-8722, won't win any beauty contests. But the FireWire bridge station scores points for innovation by allowing you to convert an internal IDE hard drive into a portable FireWire device.

Digital Media Device

WINNER Apple's iPod 20GB ($499; 800/538-9696, is the latest and most capacious in this groundbreaking line of portable music players. The well-designed iPod offers a huge hard drive and a FireWire interface for quickly transferring files to it, and is tightly integrated with iTunes. It comes with a clip-on remote control; it can play MP3, AIFF, and WAV files; and it doubles as a portable FireWire hard drive. You can also use it to store and view contacts and calendars.

RUNNERS-UP By allowing USB capture of TV shows directly to MPEG-1 video, El Gato Software's EyeTV ($199;, brings the benefits of a DV recorder to the Mac. It can pause or replay live TV, and it can automate program recording easily via software and the Web. Slim Devices' SliMP3 ($249; 650/210-9400, streams MP3 music over your network via Ethernet, has a bright display and a remote control for browsing and selecting music, and connects to any stereo receiver.

Consumer Graphics Software

WINNER For digital photographers who want to edit their photos, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 ($99; 800/833-6687, offers much of the power of its professional-grade counterpart at a fraction of the cost and learning-time investment. The many new features include a Quick Fix command, which lets you adjust brightness, color, and focus from a single window; a Selection Brush for easily making complex paths around objects; and the ability to capture and import still images from video.

RUNNERS-UP ImageBuddy 2.6, by KepMad Systems ($20;,, lets you save money and time by printing out multiple images (including captions and drop shadows) on a single sheet of photo paper. If you need only basic image editing, Caffeine Software's PixelNhance 1.5.9 (free; 408/249-1290, offers easy-to-use tools at a price that's hard to beat--free. This program's straightforward interface lets you easily adjust levels, color, sharpening, and more.

Photo Printer

WINNER The Epson Stylus Photo 2200 ($699; 800/873-7766, is the most amazing printer we've ever seen. It produces smoothly detailed images that rival anything you can do in the darkroom--and they'll last as long as 100 years, far longer than most photographs. The secret is Epson's use of seven pigment inks and the tiny size of its ink droplets; the results are the best color and black-and-white prints you can get out of a computer, bar none.

RUNNERS-UP The Canon S830D Direct Connect Photo Printer ($300; 800/385-2155, features great image quality and longevity, and it has a built-in media reader for saving and printing images directly from your digital camera. The Epson Stylus Photo 960 ($349; 800/873-7766, uses dye inks, so it doesn't have the print longevity of the 2200--its output will last for a mere 10 to 25 years--but it does give you great photos for a lot less money.

Digital Camera (Less Than $1,000)

WINNER There are plenty of great digital cameras to choose from in this price range, but the Canon PowerShot G3 ($899; 800/652-2666, is the first one we mention when someone asks us which camera to buy. It works for both the casual shooter and the advanced shutterbug, offering excellent scene modes for automatic shooting, full manual controls, and a great user interface, with a sharp 4x zoom lens and a detail-rich resolution of 4 megapixels.

RUNNERS-UP The Nikon Coolpix 4300 ($500; 800/645-6687, is a small 4-megapixel camera with a 3x zoom and a great macro mode for close-up shots. Sony has long been a bit player in the Mac digital-camera market, but the Sony DSC-F717 Cyber-shot ($999; 800/222-7669,, with its 5x zoom and 5-megapixel resolution, made us stand up and take notice.

Digital Camera (More Than $1,000)

WINNER Canon has been the ruler of the prosumer digital-camera realm since the 2000 debut of the single-lens reflex (SLR) EOS D30. And with the release of the 6.3-megapixel Canon EOS D60 ($1,999; 800/652-2666,, Canon shows that it has no plans to give up its throne. The D60 has a smart and easy-to-use interface and takes great pictures; best of all, it can use Canon's acclaimed line of lenses for 35mm film cameras.

RUNNERS-UP If you want high resolution but don't want to move to the pricier SLRs, the Nikon Coolpix 5700 ($1,200; 800/645-6687, may be for you. It sports a 5-megapixel CCD, a 7x zoom lens, and pro-level features. And Nikon finally answered the EOS D series with a comparable digital SLR, the Nikon D100 ($1,999; 800/645-6687,, a great 6.1-megapixel camera that has the feel of the company's film cameras and can use Nikon's high-quality line of lenses.



In a year dominated by splashy products such as the iMac and the iPod, it might be easy to overlook the Epson Stylus Photo 2200 -- but you shouldn't. This marvel represents the pinnacle of photographic printing on the desktop: it turns any Mac into a true digital darkroom, whether you're working with scanned images from negatives or photos from a digital camera.

The 2200 creates excellent, long-lasting prints that are vibrant and sharp, and Epson's pigment inks work equally well for color or black-and-white photographs. In addition, Epson loaded it with thoughtful extras, such as a straight-through paper path for thick paper stock, an attachment for feeding roll paper (equipped with a cutter) and two different types of black ink -- one for printing on glossy, semiglossy, and coated paper types, and one for printing on matte-finish and fine-art papers.


Adobe Photoshop Elements 1.0 offered many of Photoshop's strengths without burdening users with the leviathan's complexity or staggering price. Not satisfied with that already impressive combination, Adobe made version 2.0 even easier for novice and intermediate users while incorporating more Photoshop features and adding new tools.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 is brimming with elegant touches -- including the Search field, Tip panels, How To palette, and Glossary -- that help newcomers navigate the image-editing process. Yet the application isn't dumbed down, leaving plenty of room for users to grow as their skills increase. Elements 2.0 includes almost all of Photoshop's file-browsing capabilities, and it borrows the Brush tool, Auto Color, and Picture Package from its older sibling. New and exclusive to Elements are the powerful but intuitive Quick Fix command; the Selection Brush, with soft-edged and partial selections; and Frame From Video, which imports stills from QuickTime and iMovie files.

Despite these marked improvements, Elements 2.0 remains priced at $99, an amazing price for such an appealing, powerful package.

Breakthrough Product of the Year

Arriving only weeks after we wrapped up last year's Editors' Choice Awards, Apple's iPod has been with us for a year, and now we're more impressed with the company's first serious foray into consumer electronics than we were when it debuted. So many of the iPod's features are remarkable innovations: its trailblazing combination of small size and large capacity, the scroll-wheel-driven controls, the iTunes-like interface that simplifies finding what you want amid thousands of MP3 files, and the speedy FireWire connection.

In the intervening months, Apple and enterprising Mac developers have improved the iPod even further by turning it into a portable repository for other data, including calendar and address-book information; the hard drives keep getting bigger, and Apple has added a handy remote control to the iPod package. And let's not forget the iPod for Windows, which may prove to be one of Apple's most effective advertising mediums, showing off the company's sense of style and innovation and beckoning PC users to make the switch. All in all, the iPod is more than just an impressive music player -- it's a breakthrough product that affects Apple and Mac OS in numerous ways that go way beyond listening to your favorite tunes while you're on the go.

Mac of the Year

For a company that prides itself on simplicity, Apple certainly sold a lot of different Mac models in 2002, from the high-end PowerBook G4 and dual-1.25GHz Power Mac G4 down to the unheralded but remarkably successful white G3 iMac. But our favorite Mac of the past year was the 800MHz iMac, because it combined so many great features in one reasonably priced package. This iMac's 17-inch, 1440-by-900-pixel flat-panel display puts the 15-inch iMac's screen to shame; its 800MHz G4 processor is powerful enough for all but the most demanding applications; and the included SuperDrive brings DVD-burning to the desktop -- all for $1,999. We like all the flat-screen iMacs, with their futuristic, posable screens and white dome bodies. But the 800MHz, 17-inch LCD model is a cut above the rest.

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