Best of Show: Macworld Expo San Francisco

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Here are the winners of the Best of Show awards for the 2005 Macworld Conference & Expo. Winners were selected by the editors of Macworld magazine and from products that have been recently introduced or were making their public debut at Expo.

iPod shuffle, from Apple: This incredibly small music player offers a really different interface; there’s no display, so the device shuffles through a collection of your music that can be randomly placed on your iPod via iTunes’ new Autofill feature. The iPod shuffle fills out Apple’s music player offerings, giving music lovers a low-cost alternative to the popular iPod and iPod mini ($99 to $149, depending on capacity.)

Mac mini, from Apple: Indisputably the most affordable Mac ever, this tiny silver desktop (a two-inch tall 6.5-by-6.5-inch square) can plug right into your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse. It looks like a great machine for owners of older Mac hoping to upgrade—or PC users looking to make the switch to the Mac ($499 to $599, depending on configuration).

Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition, from ATI Technologies: ATI now offers a graphics card that can keep up with the Power Mac G5. About twice as fast as its predecessor, the X800 can drive a 30-inch Apple Cinema HD display and a legacy Apple 23-inch Cinema HD display together, thanks to dual-link DVI and ADC connectors. More than just a great card for gaming, the Radeon X800 has practical applications for 3-D designers, Apple Motion users, and anyone using an app leverages OpenGL ($499).

TextWrangler 2.0, from Bare Bones Software: The latest additions to Bare Bones Software’s consumer-level text editor have significantly raised the bar for what people expect from such an application. Not only has TextWrangler boosted its features, Bare Bones has opted to make the program available for the low price of free (Free).

Solio, from Better Energy Systems: This solar-powered battery recharger fires up small electronic products—such as iPods, cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, GPS systems, game consoles, and more—which connect to the unit via interchangeable adapters. The device, when closed, sits in the palm of your hand. To charge it, simply expose the three solar panels to the sun’s rays. If no sun is available, you can always charge via the wall socket. It’s an innovative way of tackling the problem of power for mobile device users ($100 to $120).

Elektron, from Corriente Networks: This security product protects the wireless network of your small business with RADIUS/802.1X authentication. To assure your network is free from snoops and unauthorized users, Elektron requires each user to have a unique name and password for access. The product generates a separate encryption key for each user to keep network traffic private ($300).

SmartDeck, from Griffin Technology: A slew of (expensive) adapters are out there that let iPod users control their players from their car stereos. But if your auto has a good ol’ cassette deck, Griffin’s SmartDeck uses special sensing technology to let you use your car stereo’s controls to play/pause, skip to the next or previous track, and stop. (Ejecting the adapter or switching to another input even pauses the unit.) You get much of the functionality of expensive adapters at a fraction of the price; you also get better sound quality than other cassette adapters, thanks to automatic volume control ($25).

Close Combat: First to Fight, from MacSoft: This forthcoming squad-based tactical action shooter lets gamers experience what it’s like to be a Marine working in close-quarters urban combat, using the same tactics and techniques real Marines use when under fire. The game will be released simultaneously for Mac, PC and Xbox (Pricing not announced).

Transmit 3, from Panic: One of the best FTP applications has gotten even better now that Panic is incorporating many features expected by Mac users. The look and feel and numerous additions to Transmit are sure to make it a favorite among users ($25).

Popcorn, from Roxio: Popcorn puts a friendly face on backing up unencrypted DVDs, using Roxio’s proven Toast engine and an intuitive visual interface. You can select which video, audio and language tracks you wish to back up, and Popcorn will compress the video of an entire 9GB dual-layer DVD to fit a standard 4.7GB DVD while maintaining high quality and full audio fidelity ($50).

naviPlay, from Ten Technology: iPod users finally get a truly portable, wireless headphone solution with the Bluetooth-powered naviPlay. A small transmitter fits any dockable iPod, and you plug your favorite headphones into the lightweight receiver/remote control. With 30-foot range, your iPod sounds great from across the room or deep in your backpack. A version bundled with HP’s Bluetooth Stereo Headphones—which include playback controls on the headphones themselves—provides a completely cord-free experience ($199).

Phaser EX7750, from Xerox: The printer manufacturer has teamed up with EFI to introduce this color laser printer aimed at graphics professionals who need to produce color-accurate documents such as brochures, mailers, and printing proofs. The EX7750 combines the performance of Xerox’s Phaser 7750 printer (which prints at 35 pages per minute) with EFI’s Fiery network color server for improved color management and job control ($17,899).

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