When it comes to Macworld Expo, there's one question that Macworld editors are asked without fail: What are the most interesting products at the show? And that's the idea behind the Macworld Expo Best of Show awards -- to highlight the products that stand out at the show.
Picking the Best of Show winners wasn't easy. There were lots of new Mac, iPhone, and iPod products to consider, and the Macworld editors had strong opinions on each one. Eventually, we came to a consensus on 11 products worthy of Best of Show.
[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman reports on why Apple won't let the Mac and iPhone succeed in business . ]
Here's a list of the winners. We also have a slideshow of the winners if you're interested in checking out what these products look like.
Canson Papershow: Last year, the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen was a Best of Show winner. The Papershow ($200) uses a camera-equipped pen similar to the Smartpen in conjunction with special paper that transmits your handwriting to a screen. For example, you can present a slide show with, say, a bar chart, and you can make annotation to the chart that appears on screen in real time. You can even print the annotated slides, or export them as PDFs.
Carina Software SkyFi: Got a GoTo telescope? Got and iPhone? With SkyFi ($150) and the SkyVoyager ($15) iPhone app, you can use your iPhone to control your telescope. The SkyFi is a Wi-Fi device that connects to a GoTo telecope's RS-232 port, and you can also use your Mac as a remote control. And since the SkyFi supports TCP/IP, you can set it up so that your telescope can be controller remotely over the Internet. It's the type of device that sitcom astrophysicists would love.
FastMac U-Socket: More and more people are using mobile devices, which means more and more people need a convenient way to charge the batteries in those devices. With the U-Socket ($30), you can plug your iPhone, iPod, digital camera, or other device directly into the wall without needing a power adapter. The USB ports output 5V at 600 mA, and they have power only when a device is connected. FastMac is still waiting for UL approval on the U-Socket, but they hope to start shipping soon.
Frolicware AutoPark: Here's an iPhone app you might wish you had before coming to San Francisco and Macworld Expo. AutoPark ($5) is all about parking your car. It helps you track the time left on a parking meter; uses GPS to help find your car; find nearby gas stations, banks, and bathrooms; and more. In cities like San Francisco, where meter maids are aggressive, AutoPark can cave you from a costly parking ticket.
Inrix Traffic Pro: This iPhone app is great for driving into a major city, to work, or on a road trip. Inrix Traffic Pro ($10 for one year, $25 lifetime) helps you plan your commute with real-time traffic reports. It can tell you where there are incidents and events that influence traffic. The app even lets you access traffic cameras so you can see for yourself what's happening on the road.
Kanex HDMI to Mini DisplayPort Connector: The current 27-inch iMacs have a Mini DisplayPort capable of accepting a video signal so you can use the iMac as a display. You could connect a Playstation 3 or Blu-ray player to the 27-inch iMac -- but you need a HDMI-to-Mini DisplayPort video-in adapter, and Kanex's HDMI to Mini DisplayPort Connector ($150) is the first such adapter we've seen. It opens up the possibilities of using the 27-inch iMac as the centerpiece of your home entertainment center.
Marketcircle Billings Touch: We like Billings ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ), Marketcircle's well-designed time-billing program for the Mac, and we're glad to see Billings Touch ($15) on the iPhone -- it's one of the better apps of its kind. Though it syncs with Billings on the Mac, Billings Touch is full-featured and works well on its own. Billings Touch makes it easy to track your expenses, and you can even invoice clients from the iPhone.
Microvision ShowWX: The trend in the projector market is to go small, and more manufacturers are releasing pico projectors. The ShowWX ($500) is the only pico projector that uses laser technology that produces color that's better than other, non-laser based pico projectors. It comes with a cable for connecting to an iPod Nano, iPod touch, or iPhone.
Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite: With Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite ($20), traveling business users may finally be able to leave their laptop inside their hotel room's safe and rely only on the iPhone or iPod touch. Quickoffice offers a pair of full-featured office applications (Quickword and Quicksheet) that let you create, open, and edit Microsoft Word and Excel documents. You can also access files that are stored on online storage services like DropBox, Google Docs, and MobileMe.
SachManya Yapper: Seems like everyone is making an iPhone app. And if you're a content creator, you need one, too. Yapper is an online service that gives content creators access to easy-to-use tools to create an iPhone app -- you don't need to know how to code. Apps built on Yapper use your existing RSS feeds, have an optimized user interface, can cache content for offline reading, and more.
Ten One Design Inklet: This ingenious application expends the functionality of the MacBook's multitouch trackpad, allowing it to be used like a Wacom tablet. When using Inklet ($25) with the Pogo Sketch ($15) stylus, it even has pressure sensitivity, and it can sense unwanted trackpad touches.
This story, "Macworld Expo 2010 Best of Show winners" was originally published by Macworld.