The last year of the 20th century was, all in all, a great year for the Macintosh. As we head into year 17 of the Macintosh Era, it’s time for
annual look at the products that improve the lives of Mac usersproducts that make using your Mac easier, let you do your job more effectively, or simply give you freedom you never had before.
We celebrate the crème de la crème of the Mac world with our annual Editors’ Choice Awards. In this banner year for the Macintosh, our decisions were tougher than ever. After surveying every Mac product released between November 1, 1998, and November 1, 1999, we nominated 78 products, 3 in each of 26 categories. We recognize these productsas well as the winners of our five World Class Awardsnot just for their overall quality but also for the innovative features they’ve brought to the Mac in the past year.
It’s fitting that these awards go not to people and companies who rest on past laurels but to the true innovators of the Macintosh world. Here’s hoping that many more years of Mac innovation lie ahead of us.
http://www.alsoft.com, 800/257-6381) is an excellent ax to add to your disk-repair and -maintenance arsenal. DiskWarrior’s ease of use, speed, and new method of fixing disk problems make it a powerful and notable disk-maintenance product.
Power On Software’s
Action Utilities Collection
http://www.poweronsw.com, 800/344-9160) features Mac OS 9-ready revisions of venerable tools in addition to handy, brand-spankin’-new utilities. Netopia’s
Timbuktu Pro 5.2.1
http://www.netopia.com, 800/485-5741) continues to be an essential part of any network-administration tool kit.
The wealth of tax help available in Intuit’s
MacInTax Deluxe 98
http://www.intuit.com, 800/446-8848) is part of what makes this program so valuable. It has relevant information right where you need it, such as FAQs on almost every page.
FastTrack Schedule 6.03
http://www.aecsoft.com, 800/346-9413) helps you keep track of a job without requiring you to learn a lot of theory. The latest version lets you link tasks automatically and exchange schedules with Microsoft Project. MetaCommunications’
Job Manager 2.0
http://www.jobmanager.com, 800/771-6382) has extensive job-tracking and -costing features and is especially useful for commercial printers, publishers, and design shops.
It’s simple: SPSS’s
DeltaGraph 4.5 for Macintosh
http://www.spss.com, 312/651-3000) lets you produce better-looking charts than you can with Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint. New in version 4.5 is a slew of features that accommodate the Web, such as the option of exporting JPEG graphics or QuickTime 3 slide shows.
One of the quickest ways to analyze data residing in piles of accumulated Excel spreadsheets is to use Data Description’s
MYOB Accounting Plus 8
http://www.myob.com/us, 800/322-6962) has the essential components you need in a small-business accounting system. Version 8 includes time-billing support and links to Microsoft Office 98.
Edmark’s entire Thinkin’ Things series is outstanding at helping children learn and have fun at the same time.
All Around FrippleTown
http://www.edmark.com, 800/691-2985) is the newest of the bunch. Aimed at 4- to 8-year-olds, it teaches such important skills as following map directions and identifying patterns.
The most beautiful children’s software to come out this year is VTechSoft’s
Uncle Albert’s Magical Album
http://www.vtechsoft.com, 800/ 742-1050). Reader Rabbit is a longtime friend to tots trying to make sense of those characters we call letters; The Learning Company’s
Reader Rabbit’s Complete Learn to Read System
http://www.learningco.com, 800/716-8506) comes not only with software but also with flash cards, storybooks, and a workbook.
Diamond Multimedia Systems’
http://www.diamondmm.com, 800/468-5846) is smaller than a sardine can, yet it allows you to tote more than an hour’s worth of your favorite MP3 tunes wherever you go. With easy-to-use controls, a simple drag-and-drop USB interface, and no moving parts, the Rio is your key to making sweet music.
Casady & Greene’s entry into the audio market is
SoundJam MP 1.1.1
http://www.casadyg.com, 800/359-4920), a player/encoder combination with a modifiable interface and support for streaming audio. Xing Technology’s
http://www.xingtech.com, 805/783-0400), a speedy MP3 encoder with superior encoding quality, is ideal for turning your CD collection into small, portable files.
It’s hard to believe that Bungie Software could improve on the medieval combat classic Myth: The Fallen Lords, but with improved graphics and loads of new game-play elements in
Myth II: Soulblighter
http://www.bungie.com, 312/397-0500), the company did it. This sequel also features a wider range of environments and a much improved interface.
The master of real-time strategy games, Blizzard Entertainment followed up the classic WarCraft series with
http://www.blizzard.com, 800/953-7669), featuring both an epic single-player campaign and intense multiplayer action. With superbly rendered, detailed models of F-16 avionics, weapons, and threats, MacSoft’s
http://www.wizardworks.com/macsoft/, 800/229-2714) is the most realistic combat flight simulation on the Mac today.
Wolfram Research gave
http://www.wolfram.com, 800/965-3726) more than a face-lift in its latest upgradethe program’s speed has been improved drastically, as have its HTML-creation, word-processing, and printing features. Add to that Mathematica’s outstanding documentation and strong educational support, and you’ve got a powerful and approachable technical application.
http://www.diehlgraphsoft.com, 888/646-4223) is a brand-new product grown from the solid roots of its predecessor, MiniCAD. VectorWorks is easier to use, and it also supports workgroups. Ashlar’s
Vellum Solids 99
http://www.ashlar.com, 800/877-2745) is an impressive industrial-level CAD tool with a host of new features.
ProMax Technology has accomplished a neat engineering feat. For the first time, Mac users can buy a PCI cardthe
http://www.promax.com, 800/977-6629)that works with fast, inexpensive Ultra ATA/DMA EIDE hard drives. Disk drives striped in pairs as RAID Level 0 volumes provide impressive speed at an affordable price, giving us another reason to thumb our noses at the PC guys.
The perfect companion to your cute new iMac is Sony’s
Spressa USB Plus CRX100E/X2
http://www.sony.com, 800/352-7669). There are other USB CD-RW drives, but we were particularly impressed by Sony’s solid engineering and the drive’s good speed. Digital-camera makers could do us a big favor and standardize on one media format. Until then, Microtech’s USB
http://www.microtechint.com, 800/626-4276) is a godsend. It can read SmartMedia cards, CompactFlash digital film, and the IBM family of microdrives.
If you haven’t been wowed by one of Palm Computing’s Palm organizers, it’s only because you haven’t used one. The
http://www.palm.com, 800/881-7256) comes with the same high-contrast screen, RAM, and applications as the top-of-the-line Palm V, but without the hefty price tag.
If you listen to CDs or MP3s on your Mac, you’ll be wowed by SRS Labs’
http://www.srslabs.com, 800/243-2733), a little box that uses custom algorithms to make music issuing forth from tinny speakers or headphones attached to your Macintosh sound a whole lot better. With its clever optical sensor, Microsoft’s
http://www.microsoft.com, 800/426-9400) will free you from gummy mice and mouse pads forever.
Helping extend the useful life of older PCI Power Macs and compatibles, the
http://www.xlr8.com, 888/957-8867) combines fast G3 performance with the flexibility of a socket upgrade. Excellent hardware compatibility and a CPU trade-up program go toward making it a standout among G3 accelerators.
Quality QuickTime playback, great looking 3-D, and a great price make the
ATI Rage Orion
http://www.atitech.com, 905/882-2600) a solid value for those looking to add a second graphics adapter to their system. Unmatched 2-D speed, excellent 3-D performance, and its unique support for 3-D goggles make Formac Electronic’s
http://www.formac.com, 925/251-0100) the graphics card of choice for serious Photoshop users and hard-core Mac gamers alike.
It has a few rough edges, but the much anticipated
Adobe InDesign 1.0
http://www.adobe.com, 800/562-3623) represents the first serious competition to QuarkXPress in many years. InDesign sports an innovative plug-in architecture that makes adding new features easy, but it offers publishing professionals something even better: a choice of page-layout engines. Even QuarkXPress users stand to benefit.
Adobe added useful new publishing and collaboration tools in
Adobe Acrobat 4.0
http://www.adobe.com, 800/833-6687), although Mac users had to wait a few extra months for all the features introduced in the Windows version. Main Event Software’s
http://www.mainevent.com, 800/616-8320) brings AppleScript functionality to Adobe Photoshop, allowing publishing pros to better integrate the image-editing software into their workflow.
Painting tools have taken a great leap forward in
MetaCreations Painter 6
http://www.metacreations.com, 800/846-0111), the most significant upgrade to the natural-media graphics program in many years. Painter’s brushes are more realistic than ever, and the streamlined interface makes the program a little more accessible for new users. The upgrade also offers enhanced support for Wacom’s Intuos tablets.
For those tired of “me too” painting programs, Synthetik Software’s
Studio Artist 1.1
http://www.synthetik.com, 415/864-6582) adds a new wrinkle, with an abstraction engine that lets you create wild variations on a base image. Deneba Software’s
http://www.deneba.com, 305/596-5644), an upgrade of the integrated graphics package, adds an innovative SpriteEffects function that lets you apply Adobe Photoshop filters to vector objects.
In a year that saw plenty of cool-looking 3-D-graphics programs, Play’s
http://www.play.com, 800/306-7529) stood out for its intuitive interface, real-time 3-D-sculpting capabilities, and ultrafast renderer. Even nonartists can create animations that are sure to amaze. Although aimed primarily at hobbyists and 2-D artists, Amorphium was used to create some of the special effects in
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
RUNNERS-UP:MetaCreations Canoma 1.0
http://www.metacreations.com, 800/846-0111) performs a seeming miracle: converting 2-D photographic images into 3-D scenes you can place on the Web.
MetaCreations Poser 4
http://www.metacreations.com, 800/846-0111), an upgrade of the popular character-animation tool, adds a host of features for professional 3-D artists.
It’s been a long three years since the last upgrade, but
Adobe After Effects 4.1
http://www.adobe.com, 800/833-6687) was worth the wait. New special effects, an internal-playback function, and improved integration with Adobe’s other graphics applications add up to a must-have upgrade for digital-video professionals. The interface better accommodates professional work and brings After Effects into line with the interface standards already found in Photoshop and Illustrator.
It has stiff hardware requirements and lacks support for some DV camcorders, but Apple Computer’s
Final Cut Pro 1.0.1
http://www.apple.com, 800/795-1000) combines video-capture, editing, animation, and compositing tools, all within a beautiful, efficient interface.
http://www.puffindesigns.com, 800/401-0009) is a solid upgrade of the professional video-painting software from Puffin Designs.
In a year when CD-R and CD-RW drives became mass-market peripherals, Emagic’s
http://www.emagic.de, 530/477-1051) stood out as the best audio-CD-recording software on the Mac. It’s easy to use, lets you record audio directly instead of using a separate program, and is affordably priced.
Cubase VST 4.1
http://www.us.steinberg.net, 818/678-5100) is a solid and easy-to-use MIDI sequencer with full drag-and-drop support.
http://www.macsourcery.com, 800/622-7723), developed by Audio Ease and distributed by MacSourcery, continues to be the best audio-conversion utility on the Mac. It’s easy to use, supports numerous file formats, and produces great-sounding audio.
http://www.nikonusa.com, 800/526-4566), from Nikon, tops our list when it comes to overall features and price. Using a 2.11 million-pixel CCD, this camera effortlessly delivers impressive, detailed images. Its accurate autofocus, 8MB of default memory, and high-resolution 2-inch LCD display will satisfy most consumers. And professionals will find it an excellent alternative to more-expensive high-end digital cameras.
For more-advanced users, the versatile
Olympus C-2500L SLR
http://www.olympus.com, 800/622-6372) features a 2.5 million-pixel CCD, manual and autoexposure options, and no waiting between shots. It also accepts various lenses, for the perfect shot. Kodak’s megapixel
http://www.kodak.com, 800/235-6325) provides great color accuracy, burst capture, and USB support.
21″ Apple Studio Display
http://www.apple.com, 800/538-9696), with its landing-pod design, is as innovative as it looks. It has excellent sharpness as well as rich, saturated, accurate color. The display uses an embedded processor to track phosphor aging, giving you a lifetime of true color.
We have seen the future, and it is digital. Miro Displays’
Radius Artica Flat Panel Display
http://www.mirodisplays.com, 888/647-6462) is a bright, high-resolution flat-panel display and the first digital display for the Mac. The included Formac digital-interface video card provides superior sharpness and true 24-bit color. The
17″ Apple Studio Display
http://www.apple.com, 800/538-9696) offers crisp text and images, excellent color rendition, and easy-to-use hardware controls without breaking the bank.
Photo-realistic printing on the Mac has surged forward in quality, features, and speed. Using proprietary color-layering technology, along with 2,400-dpi resolution, Hewlett-Packard’s
HP DeskJet 970Cxi
/go/mac-connect/, 800/752-0900) delivers stunningly crisp color that resists fading. Whisper-quiet in operation, it is the only ink-jet with a standard duplexer.
Ease of use and tight integration of its roles make the
http://www.brother.com, 800/276-7746)which serves as a printer, copier, fax machine, and scanneran ideal answer for real-estate-challenged desktops. With a patented ink system that allows economical business color and great-looking photo-realistic printing, Canon Computer Systems’
http://www.ccsi.canon.com, 800/652-2606) gives you the best of both worlds.
Internet Client Software
WINNER:Microsoft Outlook Express 5 Macintosh Edition
http://www.microsoft.com, 425/882-8080) offers a collection of features that will satisfy just about any e-mail user out thereand who isn’t an e-mail user these days? Although some may find its multipaned interface a bit crowded, there’s no denying the power of its hyperlink-rich, database-driven mailbox interface and the ease of its intuitive address book.
If you’re transferring files over the Internet, you need Stairways Shareware’s
), a speedy and easy-to-use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program with a Finder-like interface. With an inline spelling checker and a slew of other new features, Qualcomm’s
Eudora Pro 4.2.1
http://www.eudora.com, 800/238-3672) is a welcome upgrade to the stalwart e-mail program beloved by power users everywhere.
If you could’ve had only one Web-graphics tool in 1999,
Macromedia Fireworks 2
http://www.macromedia.com, 800/457-1774) should have been it. Version 2 improved mightily on an already excellent program, offering solid export features and the ability to apply multiple styles to an object.
An improved interface, powerful new scripting controls, and touches such as streaming-MP3 support make
Macromedia Flash 4
http://www.macromedia.com, 800/457-1774) the undisputed leader for adding compact animations and simple interactivity to your Web site.
Adobe Photoshop 5.5 with ImageReady 2.0
http://www.adobe.com, 800/492-3623) at long last integrates Web-graphics features into the image-editing institution that is Photoshop and finally allows companion ImageReady to blossom into a full-featured Web-animation and rollover-creation tool.
WINNER:Macromedia Dreamweaver 2
http://www.macromedia.com, 415/252-2000) sets the standard for innovative HTML-authoring software and is among the best WYSIWYG Web-page editors available. The major upgrade to version 2 added useful features such as a tracing layer and an advanced table editor and encourages users to adapt it to their needs, by making most features extensible.
RUNNERS-UP:Adobe GoLive 4.0
http://www.adobe.com, 800/833-6687) builds on its predecessor’s strongest assetsgreat site-management features and ease of useby offering improved stability and better integration with non-HTML code. The Web editor that continues to aggressively not suck, Bare Bones Software’s
http://www.barebones.com, 781/687-0700) is an essential tool for every serious Web-site builder who chooses to code by hand.
Whether you’re publishing on the Web or on CD-ROM, Terran Interactive’s
Media Cleaner Pro 4
http://www.terran.com, 800/577-3443) will clean up your clips. This is the essential multimedia-compression program, now supporting all major audio and video formats and capable of lossless format conversion.
The preview function and simple drag-and-drop capabilities of
Electrifier’s Electrifier Pro 1.02
http://www.electrifier.com, 919/968-0701) make it ideal for animating QuickTime content on the Web. Apple Computer’s
QuickTime 4 Pro
http://www.apple.com, 800/795-1000) offers channels, new audio and video code, cross-platform integration, and numerous file formats for import and export, making it the most powerful version yet.
QuickTime Streaming Server
http://www.apple.com, 800/795-1000) brings the quality of QuickTime to the platform of your choice through open-source licensing of a standards-based server. QuickTime Streaming Server also frees creative professionals by not imposing a per-stream “server tax.”
LinuxPPC 1999 Q3
($32; linuxppc.com, 414/427-8555) brings the power and compatibility of the open-source Linux operating system to Macintosh hardware. StarNine Technologies’
WebStar Server Suite 4.0
http://www.starnine.com, 800/525-2580) makes providing many different Internet services simple yet secure. A new modular design, Web-based mail, and speed improvements keep this suite ahead of its peers.
http://www.sustworks.com, 508/875-8121) makes it possible to put everyone in your home on the Internet without struggling over who gets the phone line. As DSL and cable modems become more popular, IPNetRouter’s appeal will certainly continue to grow.
http://www.netopia.com, 800/803-8212) lets Macintosh system managers keep their users updated instead of frustrated, by extending managers’ support reach to the remotest desktop. Our networks may be getting just as clogged as our highways, but AG Group’s
http://www.aggroup.com, 925/937-7900) will serve as your eye in the sky, letting you see network traffic and identify trouble spots.
Any computer on the Internet can potentially receive a visit from an unwelcome guest. Sonic Wall’s
http://www.sonicwall.com, 888/557-6642) acts as your Internet doorman. This speedy firewall is able to keep up with the most demanding of networks. Best of all for users in homes and small offices, it’s affordable and easy to configure.
Plug-and-play has reached the network with Quantum’s
http://www.quantum.com, 888/343-7627). This Ethernet-attached storage device puts a load of storage space on your network without a lot of server headaches. The
OneWorld OfficePort Network Communication Appliance
http://www.oneworldsystems.com, 877/697-2537) gives small offices shared Internet access via telephone with a single access point. This handy device also has built-in remote access, allowing on-the-road workers to call in.
Using Miramar Systems’
PC MacLAN for Windows 95/98 Version 7.2
http://www.miramarsys.com, 800/862-2526) is the ultimate way to make a PC Macintosh-friendly. The latest version brings faster LAN connections, server messaging, easier installation, and what PC MacLAN users have really been waiting for: support for Apple Remote Access dial-up.
Your best choice for Windows emulation on the Macintosh, Connectix’s
Virtual PC 3.0
http://www.connectix.com, 800/950-5880) features USB support and fast network access, and it can share your Mac’s Internet connection. Thursby Software Systems
http://www.thursby.com, 817/478-5070), which lets Macs use Windows networks with ease, now supports the Location Manager and Mac OS 9’s multiuser features.
World Class Awards
In 1999 digital music came into its own, and the format known as
led the way. A technology that allows CD audio to be compressed to one-tenth its original size, MP3 enabled Mac users to change the way they listened to music, whether that meant turning PowerBooks into portable jukeboxes or tuning into Internet-based radio stations rather than those of the AM-FM variety.
Casady & Greene’s SoundJam MP, which both plays and encodes MP3 files, is our favorite MP3 playerbut it’s not the only one. @soft’s Macast and Panic Software’s Audion each have unique appeal. Xing Technology’s AudioCatalyst is our favorite MP3 encoder, but SoundJam MP and Proteron’s N2MP3 are also powerful programs that let you create MP3 files. And Diamond Multimedia’s Rio 500 is the first and best MP3 player on the Mac, giving Mac users the ability to take tunes with them.
All these companies deserve praise for helping bring MP3 to the Mac and allowing Mac users to partake in the ongoing digital-music revolution.
Hardware Product of the Year
It might seem strange that in a year that saw the release of brand-new Macs such as the iBook and the Power Mac G4, our award for Hardware Product of the Year would go to what is essentially an update. Ah, but what an update!
Imagine a greater challenge than improving what is arguably the most important Mac product in a decadeso important that it has single-handedly resurrected Apple, revived the Mac market, and made the Apple logo as desirable and recognized a brand as Gap, Nike, or Disney. Yet that is exactly what Apple achieved with the
better in every possible respect without betraying the iMac’s two defining characteristics: striking design and affordability.
Still selling for $1,299, the iMac DV replaces the CD-ROM drive with a DVD-ROM drive capable of playing movies, mediocre 3-D capabilities with state-of-the-art ATI 128 RAVE 3-D, cheesy speakers with a Harman Kardon sound system, a 333MHz G3 with a 400MHz G3, 32MB of RAM with a minimum of 64MB of RAM, and a 6GB drive with a 10GB drive. It also has high-speed FireWire ports, and the list of improvements goes on and on.
But the iMac DV has more than just a refined design and feature setit also adds to the iMac’s core competency. The first incarnation of the iMac was successful as an Internet appliance, but the iMac DV is poised to deliver digital video to the masses. Thanks to iMovie, a breakthrough video-editing application, the iMac DV makes movies almost as easily as original iMacs surfed the Web. Now
Software Product of the Year
One of the Mac’s greatest strongholds is in the world of Web publishing. And
Macromedia Dreamweaver 2
is top dog among Web-page-creation programs. The program’s first edition was a bit of a disappointment, with a feature set that lagged sorely behind that of its chief competitor, Adobe GoLive. But what a difference a version makesDreamweaver 2 closed the gap in record time, adding not only all the must-have features every Web designer needs but also a bunch of unique improvements and a remarkable level of customizability.
As the Web grows in popularity, so does the importance of the professionals who build it. With Dreamweaver 2, Macromedia gave those professionals a powerful tool for creating cutting-edge Web sites.
Technology of the Year
multimedia software, already one of the company’s most important technological assets, gained greater prominence in 1999, when Apple released a new versionQuickTime 4with live-streaming capabilities. Thanks to live streaming, you can now use QuickTime to produce Webcasts that previously required either RealNetworks’ RealMedia or Microsoft’s Windows Media. Better yet, whereas RealNetworks and Microsoft charge hefty fees for their streaming-server software, Apple gives it away. Apple’s strategy is clear: it wants to make QuickTime the reigning media standard for the Internet.
Live streaming isn’t the only new function in QuickTime 4. The upgrade also features support for new file formatsincluding MP3, Flash, and FlashPixand a more flexible installation routine that lets you automatically update the software when you need new components. We were less impressed with the new QuickTime Player, which has an elegant-looking but not terribly functional brushed-metal interface. Late in 1999, Apple announced an update, QuickTime 4.1, that added new scripting features and the ability to automatically insert ads into streaming QuickTime movies.
Distinguished Achievement Award
No one needs to remind us that Apple’s return to brilliance is exemplified byand largely due tothe daring, distinctive designs of
Jonathan Ive and his design team at Apple Computer. The playful iMac and iBook, the sophisticated PowerBook G3, and the elegant Power Mac G4 all boldly pronounce that not only is Apple back but it’s also once again leading the industry into the next phase of its evolution.
Whether you love or hate them, one thing’s for sure: you can’t ignore the new Macs. They’ve become the physical manifestation of Apple’s challenge to Think Different, and they force us to consider computers in a different light. No longer mere tools designed to fade into the background, the new Macs serve their owners as everything from fashion accessories to symbols of a life lived outside the lines.
Apple’s design team continues to successfully capture and package the creative spirit of the Macintosh and, in doing so, has inspired Mac users everywhere to reconsider their boundaries as well.
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