Hundreds and hundreds of products are released for the Mac each year. A few products truly stand out as impressive examples of quality, value, and innovation. These are the products that we recognize with an Editors’ Choice Award.
When it comes to the Eddys (as we affectionately call them), Macworld editors start with a list of candidates; this year, the list included well over 200 products (eligible products must have been released between November 1, 2011, and November 1, 2012). We take a close look at all of the candidates, debate the pros and cons of each, and determine whether a product meets our stringent standards for quality, utility, innovation, value, and excellence. After weeks of deliberation, we assembled a final list.
Ladies and gentlemen, Macworld presents the winners of the Eddy Awards.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display
$1699 and $1999 for 13-inch model, $2199 and $2799 for 15-inch model; Apple
A Retina display is a display with a pixel density so high that you can’t discern individual pixels at a normal viewing distance. You’ll pay a few hundred dollars more for a MacBook Pro with Retina display over a standard MacBook Pro, but the benefits are well worth the money. Graphics pros will love the intense image detail, and text is so crisp and clean that you might mistake your on-screen text for a printed page. If you’re worried about not having enough on-screen real estate for your work, you can always use a higher resolution than the default. The Retina MacBook Pro also comes with a speedy SSD, which gives these laptops a nice performance boost.—Roman Loyola
Optional upgrade on select Macs starts at $250; Apple
Solid-state drives are fast, but they’re pricey and their limited capacity often requires you to shuffle music, movies, and photos to a second, sometimes external, drive. Hard drives have high capacities and a low cost per gigabyte, but aren’t nearly as fast as SSDs. Apple’s Fusion Drive is a clever innovation that uses software to marry an SSD and a hard drive into a single storage volume that takes advantage of the strengths of both drives.
A typical hybrid drive uses a small amount of NAND flash (8GB in the case of the Seagate Momentus XT) with a standard hard drive, and comes as one physical device. In contrast, the Fusion Drive uses 15 times more flash storage, and the two drives that make up a Fusion Drive can split apart and serve as individual devices, if you so desire. Available as a build-to-order option on the 2012 quad-core Mac mini and new thinner iMacs, the Fusion Drive also relieves you from deciding which apps and files to keep on which drive. Appearing to both the user and applications as one volume, the Fusion Drive automatically moves your most-used files to the faster flash-storage portion, while moving untouched files to the slower hard-drive portion during periods of downtime.—James Galbraith
I fell in love with Tweetbot for iOS, but then it ruined me: No Mac client could compare. Turns out the only Mac app for Twitter that could match the experience of Tweetbot was Tweetbot. You can find numerous great Twitter apps for the Mac, but Tweetbot earns this Eddy because of its cleverly implemented approach to bringing an iOS app to the Mac. The app will feel familiar to anyone who has used its iOS counterparts, but it still embraces the fact that it is running on a desktop instead.
On the Mac, Tweetbot lets you Control-click (or right-click) almost anywhere to access extra features: You can right-click a user’s name or avatar to follow/unfollow, mute, reply, or direct-message; right-click a link to compose a new tweet with it, save it to a read-it-later service, or email it; right-click a hashtag to mute it or tweet with it; and so on. Tweetbot integrates with every power-user service you’d want a top-notch Twitter client to offer, including syncing service Tweet Marker and a slew of link shorteners and photo and video services. It’s a first-class Mountain Lion citizen, integrating cleanly with Notification Center, too. I now use Tweetbot to read Twitter across all my Apple devices, and I’m thrilled that I have it.—Lex Friedman
$40; Mariner Software
You’ll have no problem finding a writing app for the Mac; the market has dozens of options, from basic text editors with minimal tools to word processors with so many features you may not even know what to do with most of them. MacJournal is designed for personal writing, whether you want to work on a collection of poems, notes from a lecture, a daily journal, or brainstorming for your next great idea. MacJournal’s strength is its easy-to-use organizational tools, which focus on a tiered system of tracking entries in a user interface similar to that of Apple’s iLife apps. MacJournal also has support for encryption and password protection, and can serve as a way to post to a blog on WordPress or Blogger.—Roman Loyola
Wireless Solar Keyboard K760
We rarely give an Eddy to a keyboard, but Logitech’s Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 has earned the honor by being functional, flexible, and even a little bit fashionable. The Mac-matching K760 is one of the best keyboards on the market thanks to an appealing design, good keys and key layout, a nice batch of special-function keys (that work with both OS X and iOS), and a reasonable price. But what makes the Bluetooth-wireless K760 truly stand out is that it can pair with up to three devices—Mac or iOS—simultaneously, letting you switch between devices with a simple button press: One second you’re editing an important work document on your Mac, and the next you’re composing tweets on your iPad. The K760 doesn’t offer a numeric keypad or other extended-keyboard keys, but the benefit of those omissions is that the K760 is small and light enough to slip into your bag for travel. The K760 is sufficiently versatile to be the primary keyboard for your desktop Mac, your MacBook, and your iPad or iPhone—without sacrificing full-size keys or a standard key layout.—Dan Frakes
$329 to $659; Apple
The iPad mini has been widely—and justifiably—criticized for its lack of a Retina-quality display. But in every other way, it’s just as much of an iPad as its Retina-equipped larger siblings, wrapped in a package that’s about half the overall size and weight. Inside the mini’s incredibly slim but solid body, you’ll find the CPU, GPU, and screen resolution of the iPad 2 along with the wireless and camera features of the fourth-generation iPad. The result is a smaller device that offers full compatibility with all 275,000 (and counting) iPad-optimized apps, as well as performance that’s surprisingly non-mini. In fact, the biggest praise I can give the iPad mini is simply to describe it as what it is: a more portable iPad. I suspect that enough people will be wowed by the iPad mini’s features, design, build quality, and—most important—size to make it the best-selling iPad. If it’s any indication, the mini has already become the favorite iPad of many a Macworld editor.—Dan Frakes
$199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB; Apple
To what should be nobody’s surprise, Apple finally increased the size of its smartphone screen—in its own particular way, of course. The iPhone 5’s taller screen is still the same width as every previous model’s, but the additional pixels provide more room for developers to exercise their creativity without hampering owners’ ability to hold and use the device with a single hand.
The new version is no slouch in performance, either: The iPhone 5’s A6 processor handily beats its predecessors, and the addition of LTE cellular technology means that the network connection finally brings actual 4G speeds, instead of the previous model’s reheated 3G. Likewise, better cameras on the front and back mean that the camera you carry with you everywhere is even more capable. Few things are more futuristic than the ability to conduct high-definition FaceTime calls no matter where you are (assuming your carrier supports it).
Oh, and did I mention that all of these impressive capabilities fit into in an attractive new package that’s somehow, amazingly, smaller and lighter than the already sleek iPhone 4S? Once again, Apple has managed to top its own flagship product, with a device that makes its once-impressive forebear look decidedly long in the tooth.—Dan Moren
$80; Ten One Design
I’ve been waiting for a pressure-sensitive stylus since Ten One Design previewed a pressure-sensitivity test back in July 2010. Since then, several companies have attempted to conquer the mountain that is pressure-sensitivity support, and have encountered difficulty: Apple allows you to send this information only via Bluetooth, and each app must be individually altered to recognize and accept this information.
Ten One’s Pogo Connect cannot surmount these problems entirely, but the company, partnering with iOS app developers, has made the process as simple as possible for users. You don’t need to pair your Pogo with the tablet in the traditional way, or worry about turning it on or off to conserve battery power. Compatible apps have a single switch to pair the stylus—and once paired, the connection lasts until you quit the app or turn off your iPad. It’s an elegant solution, accompanied by an equally elegant pen.
The company’s pressure-sensitivity engine is sleek, and one of the best at recognizing both pressure and speed input that I’ve seen. And although the rubber nib—an 8mm beast similar to other companies’ rubber-nib offerings—may not please everyone, it offers decent friction against the iPad’s surface for fast lines and detail work. We don’t know what Apple plans for the future. But looking at the pressure-sensitive styluses on the market today, the Pogo Connect is the one to beat.—Serenity Caldwell