The 22nd Annual Editors' Choice Awards

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by Macworld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

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Company:Apple
Price:$79 (as part of iWork ’06 suite)
Original Review: April 2006

Mac Pro

Intel-based desktop keeps its cool

When Apple announced that it was switching to Intel chips, much of the speculation centered on what that’d mean for Apple laptops. Little did we realize what a huge impact those chips would have on the flagship of the Apple desktop line. Because those Intel chips ran so much cooler, the Power Mac-replacing Mac Pro ( ; November 2006) didn’t have to devote so much of its internal space to cooling systems. That left room for more storage (up to four SATA hard drives at a time, for up to 3TB [terabytes] of storage), two optical drives (instead of the Power Mac’s one), and some pretty cool graphics-card options. Of course, those Intel chips did more than keep things cool: they allowed Apple to release its first Intel system with four processing cores. The sum of all those parts is a to-die-for, high-performance workstation and a more than worthy successor to the venerable Power Mac.—DAN MILLER

 

Company:Apple
Price:$2,499
Original Review: November 2006

MacBook

Surprisingly powerful portable inspires laptop love

Macworld editors see a lot of Apple hardware, so you might not expect us to get excited about new Macs. But the day Apple released its new Intel-based consumer laptop, our offices were abuzz. Several of us went out that day and bought MacBooks ( ; August 2006) with our own hard-earned cash. Why the love? The MacBook lets iBook owners step up to a surprisingly powerful dual-core system. It also gives owners of the 12-inch PowerBook G4 a powerful Intel-based replacement. Yes, there have been reports of individual MacBooks with production flaws, and Apple had to release a firmware patch to address a spontaneous-shutdown problem. But even the MacBook owners we know who’ve been bitten by such bugs still rave about how much they love their little laptops.—JASON SNELL

 

Company:Apple
Price:$1,099 to $1,499
Original Review: August 2006

Nike + iPod Sport Kit

iPod nano accessory improves your workouts

The iPod nano is a great exercise accessory, thanks to its diminutive size, its skip-free flash memory, and the simple fact that it’s an iPod. Nike’s Nike + iPod Sport Kit ( ; Playlist) makes the nano an even better workout partner. A small transmitter attached to one of your running shoes tracks your movements and sends that data to your nano via a tiny receiver. As you run, your iPod provides feedback on your progress and encouragement as you approach your goals. Afterward, when you sync your iPod, iTunes sends your workout details to the Nike+ Web site, where you can set goals, see your best times and distances, and compete with runners from around the world.—DAN FRAKES

 

Company:Nike
Price:$29
Original Review: online only

Nikon D80

Digital SLR offers tremendous quality at a great price

The Nikon D80 ( ; February 2007) may not make any headlines for technical innovation. Instead, it offers tremendous quality at a great price. The camera handles more like a high-end SLR than many of its similarly priced competitors, and it comes with an extensive list of impressive features—some of which you won’t find even on more expensive cameras. Beginning users will appreciate the camera’s intuitive interface, while experienced shooters will like its full range of controls and options. Everyone will benefit from the camera’s 10-megapixel resolution and excellent image quality. The D80 also offers editing tools that let you perform sophisticated corrections before you export your shots to your Mac. With the D80, Nikon has raised the performance bar in the sub-$1,000 market—and that’s something even Canon devotees should applaud.—BEN LONG

 

Company:Nikon
Price:$1,000 (body only)
Original Review: February 2007

Parallels Desktop for Mac

Virtualization tool introduces Mac users to the Windows world

Every so often, a product that defines its market segment comes along. Parallels Desktop for Mac ( ; September 2006) is one such product. If you have an Intel-powered Mac, Parallels lets you run Windows and Unix-based operating systems at nearly native speeds. Depending on your Mac, Windows applications run at anywhere from 80 to 95 percent of their native speed—more than fast enough for all but the most demanding Windows user. (Try that, Virtual PC.) Unlike Apple’s Boot Camp, Parallels doesn’t force you to reboot or partition your hard drive. It’ll even let you run multiple operating systems simultaneously (as long as you have gobs of RAM). Sure, there are some drawbacks. Parallels Desktop can’t, for example, support full 3-D accelerated graphics, and some hardware peripherals won’t work properly with it. But if you need (or want) to use Windows on your Mac, Parallels Desktop is the easiest—and for most users, the best—solution available.—ROB GRIFFITHS

 

Company:Parallels
Price:$80
Original Review: September 2006

PhoneValet Message Center 4.0

Premier telephony program only gets better

Parliant’s PhoneValet Message Center 4.0 ( ; July 2006) does one simple thing—but does it so well, it’s hard to believe that no one else has done it before. Previous editions of the program have established PhoneValet as the premier telephone message-recording system for the Mac; version 4 has cemented that leadership position. The app now does a lot more than answer calls. It can also dial, record, log, and search through your calls; it’ll also automatically forward them to your cell phone when you’re on the road. Despite all those new skills, PhoneValet Message Center 4.0 is still one of those apps you can set up and never think about again.—JIM DALRYMPLE

 

Company:Parliant
Price:$170
Original Review: July 2006

Photosmart Pro B9180

Photo printer turns digital images into fine art

With eight pigment inks, including a gray ink for better black-and-white images, HP’s Photosmart Pro B9180 ( ; February 2007) creates gorgeous, tabloid-size prints that will last as long as 200 years. Not bad—but that’s a standard already set by Epson, long the acknowledged leader in the pro-quality photo-printer market. In designing the B9180, HP realized that it had to surpass the usability, features, and design of its rival’s products—and it has. This printer comes with a Photoshop plug-in for quickly making prints without wading through multiple dialog boxes; a simple manual-feed tray for thick papers (with clear guides for proper alignment); support for fine-art papers; and a built-in color densitometer (a first for a printer priced under $1,000) that ensures consistent prints from day to day. Digital SLR cameras have revolutionized photography; the B9180 lets us turn those digital images into fine art.—RICK LEPAGE

 

Company:Hewlett-Packard
Price:$700
Original Review: February 2007

PV-GS500

Camcorder does almost everything well at a reasonable price

There are plenty of good video cameras out there, and they’re more affordable than ever. Still, Panasonic’s PV-GS500 ( ; September 2006) camcorder stands out—not necessarily because it has the best specs or is the top performer in any one area, but because it does almost everything well and is reasonably priced. You get excellent video quality (in both standard and 16:9 aspect ratios), thanks to a 3-CCD sensor and a Leica lens; effective image stabilization; impressive battery life; easy-to-use controls; and a fully manual mode for advanced users. To top all that off, the PV-GS500 also takes very nice photographs, thanks to its 4-megapixel still-image mode. If the PV-GS500 is too pricey for you, check out its GS300 and GS200 siblings, which offer many of the same features at lower prices.—DAN FRAKES

 

Company:Panasonic
Price:$1,000
Original Review: September 2006

R
evolution Mice

Innovative scroll wheel sets mice family apart

An Eddy for mice? That won’t seem so strange if you’ve ever used one of Logitech’s new Revolution mice—the full-size MX ( ; February 2007) and the portable VX. Both are comfortable and ergonomically correct. Both feature lots of programmable buttons, include high-precision laser tracking, and are RF wireless. But what really sets these mice apart—and makes them Eddy-worthy—is the scroll wheel. In addition to operating in the traditional way—with the cursor moving up or down one on-screen “line” per wheel click—Logitech’s MicroGear Precision Scroll Wheel has a Free-spin mode: Flick your finger, and the wheel spins freely, scrolling through dozens of pages at a time. Gently touch the wheel, and scrolling stops immediately. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to a standard scroll wheel.—DAN FRAKES

 

Company:Logitech
Price:MX: $99; VX: $80
Original Review: February 2007

Sonos Digital Music System

Latest ZonePlayer completes this home entertainment system

When Sonos released its Digital Music System in 2005, we were impressed. Connect a ZonePlayer to some speakers wherever you want to listen, and use the Sonos Controller to wirelessly stream music from your Mac. The much smaller ZonePlayer 80 ( ; Playlist) extends those capabilities by connecting the Sonos system to your existing stereo. Taken together, the Digital Music System can replace much more expensive custom-installed home sound systems while in many ways improving on them, in terms of both functionality and ease of use. No other system so effectively combines digital music, high-quality audio, wireless convenience, and simplicity.—DAN FRAKES

 

Company:Sonos
Price:$349 to $1,499
Original Review: online only

SuperDuper 2.1

Scheduled backups make this utility a back-to-back winner

Last year, we gave Shirt Pocket’s SuperDuper 1.5 an Eddy because, in its first year, it had already become an indispensable tool for creating bootable hard-drive backups and for migrating between different Mac systems. With SuperDuper 2 ( ; Mac Gems), the program has become even more useful. It now offers scheduled backups, improved scripting, and better options for creating disk images. But our favorite improvement is SuperDuper’s impressive new interface design: while most backup and disk-utility programs are unfriendly at best, SuperDuper 2 uses plain, easy-to-understand language to explain what’s going to happen (based on the options you’ve selected) when you press the button to start your backup.—JASON SNELL

 

Company:Shirt Pocket
Price:$28
Original Review: online only

TonePort UX2

Interface is just what Mac-based musicians need

Line 6’s TonePort UX2 ( ; February 2007) is the perfect companion for Mac-friendly guitar players, bass players, and singers. After you plug the TonePort into a USB port, the GearBox software lets you completely configure amp settings; for example, you can customize your guitar sound for everything from Mississippi blues to modern metal. You can save all your amp and effects setups for instant recall. And because the TonePort is compatible with other Line 6 devices (such as the Pod xt Live), you can use those settings onstage as easily as at home. Portable enough to put in a backpack, the TonePort UX2 gives you the best tone possible at a pretty reasonable price.—JIM DALRYMPLE

 

Company:Line 6

Price:$269
Original Review: February 2007

YouTube

Video-sharing Web site takes the world by storm in 2006

Video on the Web isn’t new—Nor are tagging, commenting on, or linking to videos. But combine those elements and make it easier than ever to play and upload video clips, and you have something that’ll take the Web by storm. Officially launched in December 2005, YouTube did just that in the space of one short year. Sure, you can watch only so many clips of college students lip-syncing Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” But now instead of trying to describe that hilarious Daily Show episode to your friends, you can send them a link. Instead of sending your relatives a 5MB QuickTime file of your baby’s first steps, you can simply upload your video and send out a URL. Groups, channels, playlists, and subscriptions make it easy to share your videos with the world. And it still doesn’t cost a dime.—CURT POFF

 

Company:YouTube

Price:Free

TechTool Protege

Troubleshooting goes portable

If you’ve ever had a computer problem on the road, you know how essential it is to have a bootable emergency drive. The Micromat Protege ( ; February 2007) is just that: a thumb-sized, flash-memory-based, 1GB FireWire drive that’s preloaded with essential troubleshooting utilities (Micromat’s $99 TechTool Pro and $50 DiskStudio; Apple’s Disk Utility, Terminal, and System Profiler; and whatever troubleshooting utilities you want to add). Plug the Protege into your Mac’s FireWire port and use it to boot, and then use the utilities to diagnose and repair your system. Protege’s FireWire connection means booting is fast. Troubleshooting has never been so easy or so portable.—DAN FRAKES

 

Company:Micromat

Price:$229
Original Review: February 2007

VisualHub 1.1

Video conversion software is iPod owner’s best option

Techspansion’s VisualHub ( ; Mac Gems) lets you convert videos for use with fifth-generation iPods, optimized either for the iPod’s 320-by-240-pixel screen or for the higher resolution of a television. But so do several other apps. What sets VisualHub apart is its versatility: it makes converting videos to AVI, DV, DVD, Flash, MPEG, MP4, PSP, and WMV easy. You can choose between MPEG-4 and H.264 encoding. If you have a Series 2 TiVo, you can encode videos with VisualHub and then transfer them from your Mac to your TiVo. VisualHub is also much faster than QuickTime Pro at video conversion—faster still if you use distributed batch encoding—and works with files that QuickTime just can’t.—JONATHAN SEFF

 

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