USB Instant DVD ($229), from ADS Technologies (www.adstech.com): This hardware-software combination is a good option for Mac users who have the DVD itch but don’t have Apple’s iDVD or DVD Studio Pro. With some software improvements, this will be a real winner ( June 2003 ).
Director MX ($1,199), from Macromedia (www.macromedia.com): Director MX is an excellent upgrade for existing Director users, though it isn’t a revolutionary release in terms of new features. It now works with Mac OS X for both authoring and playback ( June 2003 ).
Toast 6 Titanium ($100), from Roxio (www.roxio.com): This CD- and DVD-burning program’s power and flexibility outshine anything you can get from a Mac’s built-in burning capabilities. Toast 6’s most impressive improvements are in the video arena ( December 2003 ).
Aria extreme ($80), from Sonnet Technologies (www.sonnettech.com): This card brings wireless networking to PowerBook G3s without AirPort slots, and brings AirPort Extreme to owners of Titanium PowerBook G4s and PowerBook G3s ( March 2004 ).
ExtendAir Direct ($150), from Dr. Bott (www.drbott.com): If you need better AirPort Extreme range in one direction, this external antenna may be the perfect solution. The Direct is a good choice if you live in a narrow home with a long central hallway ( September 2003 ).
ExtendAir Omni ($100), from Dr. Bott (www.drbott.com): If you need better AirPort Extreme range in all directions, this external antenna may be the perfect solution. The Omni is the best choice for most homes ( September 2003 ).
iTools 7 ($349), from Tenon Intersystems (www.tenon.com): iTools provides a slick GUI interface to many popular and powerful free Unix Internet services, such as Apache 2 Web server and ProFTPD. Worth the price if you want powerful Internet services and are uncomfortable compiling Unix programs from source code ( October 2003 ).
Inspiration 7.5 ($69), from Inspiration Software (www.inspiration.com): This easy-to-use chart-drawing program handles the grunt work for you, so you can concentrate on being inspired. The 7.5 version includes new features like Transfer, which allows you to export your clever diagrams to Word or an AppleWorks document. New Fiction Writing and Biographical Essay modes expand Inspiration’s already hefty feature set, further improving this innovative product (November 2003).
OmniGraffle Professional 3.0 ($120), from The Omni Group (see “Editors’ Choice 2003: Best Organizational Software”).
Studiometry 1.1 ($55), from Oranged.net Software (www.oranged.net): This project-management application for designers and illustrators doesn’t quite fit the bill — specifically because of flaws in the Client Info interface, as well as the billing and invoice system ( February 2004 ).
Tinderbox 1.2 ($145), from Eastgate Systems (www.eastgate.com): Tinderbox is a remarkable tool for storing, arranging, exploring, and publishing data. If you work with a lot of facts and ideas, it can provide vital clarity — and it just might spark your creativity ( September 2003 ).