Printers — Monochrome Laser
B4300 ($528), from Oki Data (www.okidata.com): The Oki Data B4300 required an optional PostScript-emulation upgrade to work over a network with a Mac. The $528 tag reflects this. Its graphics were fair and suffered from posterization ( June 2003 ).
HL 5070N ($499), from Brother (see “Our Favorite Printers”).
LaserJet 4300n ($1,879), from Hewlett-Packard (see “Our Favorite Printers”).
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 ).
T420d ($689), from Lexmark (www.lexmark.com): The T20d i
Printers — Multifunction
LaserJet 3330mfp ($700), from Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com): This black-and-white laser multifunction printer produced excellent text output. On the minus side: in our testing some copies were darker than they should have been, and printed images were sometimes grainy with banding (November 2003).
MFC-8420 ($549), from Brother (www.brother.com/ usa/index.html): A cheap black-and-white laser multifunction machine, the MFC-8420 features excellent text output and an impressive cartridge life of 3,300 pages. However, the machine produced dark and blotchy printed images (November 2003).
PSC 2175 ($200), from Hewlett-Packard (see “Our Favorite Printers”).
X5150 All-in-One ($150), from Lexmark (www.lexmark.com): This color multifunction printer makes very nice black-and-white copies and smooth curves, but its poor scan ability and lack of a fax feature make it less attractive than some of the other products in this market ( November 2003 ).
Printers — Photo
i900D ($250), from Canon (www.powershot.com): The Canon i900D ink-jet photo printer offers excellent value; it’s relatively speedy, it has good computerless printing, and it uses individual ink cartridges ( February 2004 ).
i960 ($200), from Canon (see “Our Favorite Printers”).
P-440 ($499), from Olympus (www.olympusamerica.com): Although the dye-sub-based P-440 showed fast printing on multiple copies of 4 by 6 images, it’s just too expensive for its limited usefulness ( February 2004 ).
Photosmart 7960 ($300), from Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com): This printer should work well for people who print black-and-white images often, and it has very good detail reproduction. It is a bit slow, though ( February 2004 ).
Stylus Photo 900 ($199), from Epson (www.epson.com/northamerica.html): The first ink-jet that prints directly onto CDs and DVDs for easy labeling, the Stylus Photo 900 is also an excellent photo printer. For the price, you won’t find a better printer with these capabilities ( August 2003 ).
Stylus Photo R300 ($179), from Epson (www.epson.com/northamerica.html): This photo ink-jet printer offers an excellent value. It has very good color matching and a wide range of computerless printing support ( February 2004 ).
Z705 ($80), from Lexmark (www.lexmark.com): Despite the Lexmark Z705’s low price, it isn’t worth the hassle involved in getting it to produce good color ( February 2004 ).
Printer — Wide Format
DesignJet 120nr ($1,895), from Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com): This professional-grade wide-format printer has excellent print quality, but poor built-in color matching ( October 2003 ).
Publishing — Print
Acrobat Professional 6.0 ($449), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): Prepress professionals should upgrade to this version of Acrobat; it offers the control they’ve been waiting for. For other folks, the Standard version should be enough ( September 2003 ).
Acrobat Standard 6.0 ($299), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): Acrobat Standard 6.0 may finally make the paperless office a reality with its amazing workflow enhancements. If you’re even slightly inclined to upgrade, do it without hesitation ( September 2003 ).
InDesign CS ($699), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): This is a more capable and more functional InDesign; in due time, this program will easily claim the publishing crown from QuarkXPress ( February 2004 ).
MarkzTools 5 ($199), from Markzware Software (www.markzware.com): This anticorruption and first-aid package can save the day for those who rely on QuarkXPress to get their work done. It consists of seven modules that help you salvage corrupted files, switch between XPress 4 and XPress 5, and reduce file size (August 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 ).
QuarkXPress 6.0 ($1,045), from Quark (www.quark.com): The enhancements in this OS X-native version of QuarkXPress are worthwhile for any XPress-based production shop, and the upgrade pricing is easy to stomach ( September 2003 ).
RagTime 5.6.5 ($699), from ComGrafix (www.comgrafix.com): Business users certainly need an integrated word processing, spreadsheet, and layout program. But despite this solid concept, RagTime’s interface and feature implementation are severely flawed ( April 2004 ).
Publishing — Web and Internet
BlogApp 1.3 ($6), from Tim Conner (www.objectivelabs.com): It’s easy to use, but it doesn’t offer any preview function or support for categories, multiple Weblogs, or keyboard shortcuts (July 2003).
Contribute 2.0 ($99), from Macromedia (see “Editors’ Choice 2003: Best Web-Design Tool”).
Dreamweaver MX 2004 ($399), from Macromedia (www.macromedia.com): This industry-leading Web-design application is a great tool for any Web developer working on the cutting edge of CSS design. Too bad the same kind of innovation isn’t demonstrated in other areas of the program ( January 2004 ).
EspressoBlog 2.2.1 (free), from iAware (http://iaware .interalia.org): This posting Weblog tool has full support for keyboard shortcuts, and help for image uploading. However, the interface is confusing and there is no preview function (July 2003).
Fireworks MX 2004 ($299), from Macromedia (www.macromedia.com): Fireworks MX enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a solid tool for producing Web graphics, but this release maintains rather than enhances that status. This update offers very little reason to upgrade ( January 2004 ).
GoLive CS ($399), from Adobe Systems (www.adobe.com): While this program offers many advanced features for building and managing Web sites, its lackluster support for current CSS techniques and its sometimes complex interface are serious drawbacks ( February 2004 ).
iJournal 1.5 (free), from William Coldwell (www.planetcryo.com): Coldwell’s Weblog tool is easy to use and supports keyboard shortcuts. A little bonus is that iJournal can automatically list the iTunes song you’re currently playing ( January 2004 ).
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).
Lift NN/g ($549), from UsableNet (www.usablenet.com): If you have a complex Web site but would prefer to avoid the hassle of designing and testing it for maximum accessibility, look no further. This tool offers valuable references and great features for finding and fixing errors ( August 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).
pMpost 1.0 ($20), from pMachine (www.pmachine.com): This Weblog tool supports custom fields for more flexibility, but it has no keyboard shortcuts and no image-upload assistance (July 2003).
Scanner — Consumer
Scanjet 4670 ($200), from Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com): If you’re looking for a scanner that’s as beautiful as your Mac, the transparent HP Scanjet 4670 is the one for you. Just be sure to bring your own software, as the bundle is a loose amalgam of inconsistent utilities ( February 2004 ).
Scanner — Software and OCR
Readiris Pro 9 ($130), from IRIS (www.irislink.com): The improvements to this optical character recognition program make it much more accurate when recognizing text from a clean scan. The spelling checker, however, needs to lay off the caffeine ( March 2004 ).