BEST of the BEST
Each year I like to single out the best things I've run across during the year. Unfortunately in 2005 there really weren't many new things that really floated my boat. Yes there was lots and lots of stuff -- but really nothing earth shattering. However, I will share the following few favorites from last year...
Favorite new toy
Well, I don't want to call this a toy, because it's certainly not. But it is a lot of fun, with a lot of power in a superbly designed little body.
The Apple iMac G5 is quite a departure for me. Imagine how crowded my desk must be with my trusty 1998 G3, 17: monitor and the much newer G4 Silver Bullet and its 17" monitors all competing for space. But in more recent months, I've been using the PowerBook more and more. Wow. No space left. So I decided it was time to bring myself up to date and get the iMac. This beauty occupies just a fraction of space the prior computers did -- but has twice the speed and twice the computing power.
Apple is marketing this computer as a consumer and home computer -- leaving the heavy-duty G5 tower as the business solution. But this gem has nearly the computing power -- plus the built in display and the added benefit of running considerably quieter.
I'm really looking forward to working with graphics and iChat on this machine. With the wide-spread deployment of broadband and fast internet more people around the world are communicating with video computing. That means all I have to do is start up iChat AV, click my friend or client's video icon and I'm ready to chat with sight and sound -- face-to-face with other similarly equipped computers. Consumers and home users will like the Photo Booth application that turns the iMac into a modern-day arcade photo booth with close integration with iPhoto. Perhaps I'll use that too.
The bottom line is a slimmer, gravity-defying enclosure, SuperDrive, wireless operation, widescreen display, PCI-Express ATI Radeon XT graphics processor, 128MB of dedicated video memory and two gigs of RAM -- this baby screams -- for just under $1,600 compared to the tower monster that would cost upwards to $3,000. (If you'll look at this 360-degree rotating image, you'll see that, yes, there's NO CPU! None! It's all in the enclosure! )
Quite frankly, between you, me and the fence post, I don't understand why any intelligent person would buy any other computer. It just wouldn't make sense.
Best New Gizmo
The Virtual Picture Frame... another of my favorite gizmos last year was the Image Moments picture frame. I mean, how cool is it to give someone a wood picture frame that runs slideshows of your photos and even plays music? It's a great gift, but it's also a great device for an office. Set one or more up in the reception area of your business and let it show visitors what the business is up to. Use it as a selling device. There are dozens of cool uses besides photos of the kids. You can read my full review in the Photographic department, or zoom on out to the Digital Foci web site.
Best New Software
I was very seriously considering Video Training software as a "BEST" this year, citing Deke McClelland's Video courses (as featured in my Photoshop Madness columns) but really, I think that area is still in its infancy and not quite ready for a "BEST" award. There are dozens and dozens of upstarts doing video and in all honesty, Total Training is the only one really doing the job.
When evaluating all the software we've looked at this year I keep coming back to the software tools that do it for you, or expand your knowledge through their use. I keep coming back to Alien Skin and their awesome work over the years (Like their kick-butt Image Doctor) making Photoshop do things that everyone else wants to show you how to do yourself. When in reality, just doing it is much better. So the final chapter in the Alien Skin "Eye Candy" series has to be the one. In my humble opinion, no one else has quite come close to such easy, low horse-power, solutions as these guys. If you read the hotline input from Photoshop911.com, you'll quickly see that easily a third of the requests for "tips" or "techniques" are handled with the Eye Candy collection. In other words, the user could have the technique they're looking for, DONE, in less time than it takes to post the question at the blog. So, go and check out Alien Skin's Eye Candy
Many, many more ...
I could mention many more, like the fantastic How to WOW CDs from Peachpit; or "RadioLover" from Bit Cartel Software (lets you record music streams from the internet), or QuicKeys from CE Software (Awesome macro program that does anything on Mac or Windows); but all those take too long, and this is already long enough.
So those are my picks for the year -- even though it's a very short list -- I think you'll enjoy them all -- plus, see reader favorites in the Creative Networking department. we'll keep you posted on new ones!
Thanks for reading...
Editor / Publisher, DT&G Magazine
By the way, if you'd like me to take a look at your product or software, just let me know.