Macworld’s Top 5
1GHz PowerBook G4, 17-inch ($3,299), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): It pushes the limits of portabil-ity, but the 17-inch model has the best combination of features and performance of any PowerBook. It’s an excellent workstation for video pros and designers (June 2003).
iTunes 4 (free) and third-generation iPods ($299 to $499), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): This combination makes us want to sing. Buy music with iTunes 4 and play it on a new iPod? Sounds good (July 2003).
Live 2.0 ($399), from Ableton (www.ableton.com): DJs and other live musicians will love Live 2.0’s ease of use, implementation of OS X music technologies, and cool new time-stretching and Tap Tempo features (July 2003).
PowerShot A70 ($399), from Canon (www.canon .com): Full manual controls, a nice movie mode, and support for conversion lenses and an underwater case make this 3.2-megapixel digital camera a winner (July 2003).
PowerShot S400 Digital Elph ($599), from Canon (www.canon.com): This great 4-megapixel digital camera features a scratch-resistant, all-metal body; quite good photo quality; and no red-eye problems (July 2003).
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1GHz iMac G4, 17-inch ($1,799), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): The speed and power of this new iMac are remarkable, especially given its big LCD monitor and reasonable price. It provides support for AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth, too (May 2003).
1GHz Power Mac G4 ($1,499), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): This Power Mac supports new Apple technologies, namely FireWire 800 and AirPort Extreme. It provides good performance at an attractive price, and it’s reasonably quiet (May 2003).
Addressix 1.3 ($13), from A Sharp (www.a-sharp .com): This application can print envelopes in any of 12 U.S. and international sizes, and you can create custom sizes. Addressix is smart, and it does its task very well (July 2003).
Cleaner 6.0.1 ($599), from Discreet (www.discreet .com): Improvements in performance and codec compatibility, as well as OS X compatibility, make this video-encoding utility essential for anyone who needs flexibility and power (June 2003).
Color LaserJet 2500L ($1,000), from Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com): This color laser printer’s crisp, clean output and truly reasonable price mean that small workgroups with big printing needs can benefit from color-laser technology without putting too large a dent in their budgets (March 2003).
Deluxe Board Games ($20), from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com): This gaming software answers the call for simple, well-crafted, online-capable board games. A great value, it may also draw new players to online gaming (July 2003).
Director MX ($1,199), from Macromedia (www .macromedia.com): Director MX is an excellent upgrade for Director users, though it isn’t a revolutionary release in terms of new features. It now works with OS X for both authoring and playback (June 2003).
Dual-1.25GHz Power Mac G4 (FW 800) ($1,999), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): The dual-1.25GHz Power Mac G4 supports new Apple technologies, namely FireWire 800 and AirPort Extreme. It’s an excellent value and performs very well. Also, it’s reasonably quiet (May 2003).
Dual-1.42GHz Power Mac G4 ($2,699), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): This Power Mac G4 is not astonishingly faster than the dual-1.25GHz — but for $700 more, you get nice extras that make it a good value (June 2003).
Final Cut Express 1.0 ($300), from Apple Computer (www.apple.com): At a third of Final Cut Pro’s price, this DV-only video-editing package brings professional features to users looking to move up from iMovie (May 2003).
FontLab 4.5 ($549), from FontLab (www.fontlab .com): Fontographer (or something like it) is back. Font-designer pros who take the time to tackle FontLab’s somewhat confusing maze of toolbars will be rewarded with the power to create full-featured OpenType fonts (July 2003).
FreeHand MX ($400), from Macromedia (www .macromedia.com): If you’re using Dreamweaver, Flash, or Fireworks, then this illustration program is an essential piece of your Web-design puzzle, integrating with the other members of Macromedia’s MX family (July 2003).
G-celerator GC1-800-S2 ($280), from Giga Designs (www.gigadesigns.com): This CPU-upgrade card is a good performer, and its price is very tempting — it’s one of the lowest-cost 800MHz upgrades available. It’s compatible with Power Mac G4s from AGP graphics through Quicksilver (July 2003).
G-celerator GC5-1000-S2 ($420), from Giga Designs (www.gigadesigns.com): We recommend this 1GHz CPU-upgrade card (compatible with Power Mac G4s from AGP graphics through Quicksilver) for its competitive price, speedy performance, and trouble-free operation (July 2003).
HL 5070N ($499), from Brother (www.brother.com/usa/ index.html): For people who want an inexpensive laser printer, this monochrome networked laser’s excellent text printing and Rendezvous capabilities make it a great choice (June 2003).
Imprint 1.1 ($20), from Ampersandbox (www.amper sandbox.com): This little utility can print labels and envelopes, and it includes more than 100 label templates. The interface isn’t as smooth as Addressix’s, but the program is powerful (July 2003).
Kung-Log 1.44 (free), from Adriaan Tijsseling (www.kung-foo.tv): A rich feature set helps Kung-Log manage Weblogs on multiple servers. As a plus, the developer is very responsive (July 2003).
Location X 1.2 ($10), from Alex Keresztes and Greg Novick (http://homepage.mac.com/locationmanager): This utility does most of what the old Location Manager did, and a little more. Location X is not a big deal, but it can make your life easier as you travel (July 2003).
MP3 Rage 5.4 ($25), from Chaotic Software (www .chaoticsoftware.com): MP3 Rage is the Swiss Army Knife of MP3 utilities. It helps you fix improper ID3 tag data, look up lyrics and album-cover art, find duplicate MP3 files, create a catalog file, and more (April 2003).
NetNewsWire 1.0.1 ($40), from Ranchero Software (www.ranchero.com): Integrated with an RSS reader, NetNewsWire can manage Weblogs on multiple servers. But there’s no image assistance, and it’s relatively expensive (July 2003).
Page Sender 3.0 ($30), from Smile Software (www .smilesoftware.com): This easy-to-use, OS X-compatible fax application knocked our socks off by doing everything a fax machine does — except getting jammed (June 2003).
Phaser 4400N ($1,400), from Xerox (www.xerox .com): Though it’s a little on the expensive side, this networked monochrome laser printer produces excellent text and very good graphics (June 2003).
Photoshop Camera Raw ($99), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): Photoshop Camera Raw offers an elegant way to bring images into Photoshop. However, this plug-in isn’t a substitute for an industrial-strength converter (June 2003).
Portfolio 6.1 ($200), from Extensis (www.extensis .com): Taking advantage of OS X’s interface and structure, this version gives you the power to quickly decide whether a file is a digital asset or digital detritus (July 2003).
PowerShot S50 ($699), from Canon (www.canon .com): Almost identical to the PowerShot S45, the S50 has a full suite of manual controls, an AF illuminator, a good movie mode, and excellent photo quality (July 2003).
RealBasic 5.0 ($100), from Real Software (www .realsoftware.com): With a rebuilt compiler and debugger, and the incorporation of OS X’s interface features, RealBasic remains the most enjoyable way to develop modern and muscular Mac applications (July 2003).
SketchUp 2.2 ($495), from @Last Software (www .sketchup.com): SketchUp is CAD software for the rest of us — we recommend it to anyone who has a desire to visualize in 3-D, whether you’re redecorating your living room or building a whole house (June 2003).
Spell Catcher X ($40), from Casady & Greene (www.casadyg.com): Spell Catcher X is undeniably good at checking spelling in the background and works systemwide (June 2003).
SPSS 11 ($1,145), from SPSS (www.spss.com): If you have mountains of social-sciences or business data to analyze, SPSS 11 is uniquely designed to help you. For large-scale statistical problems, it’s the best choice available on the Mac (June 2003).
TextWrangler 1.0 ($49), from Bare Bones Software (www.barebones.com): This is a moderately powerful tool for sorting, processing, and editing text files. If you spend a lot of time looking at config files or database exports, TextWrangler is a good option (July 2003).
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