Six Truly Great Tech Tools

By Mike Elgan | Posted June 29, 2009

The tech press and gadget blogosphere obsess over new products, new Web sites, new technologies and new ideas. We all love the shock of the new.

But the truth is, the very best products in this industry are new versions of old products. 1.0 releases often take bold stabs at solving existing problems. But only after a few really smart tweaks do they become ultra compelling and, in some cases, indispensable.

The most obvious example of this phenomenon is the iPhone. Apple's original shot at smart phone greatness two years ago grabbed more attention than just about any product ever. Never mind that it lacked basic functionality nearly universal in the industry, such as copy and paste, a decent camera and third-party applications. This month's iPhone 3GS version was probably the least hyped iPhone. But it's orders of magnitude better and more useful than the original.

There seems to be some kind of inverse relationship between the hype a product gets and its quality. When people stop talking about something, you know it's truly great. That's why I'm writing this column. Some of the greatest software and services in the industry have shipped in the last few days, and others will become available in the coming weeks and months, and they're not getting the attention they deserve.

Of course, most products get better in subsequent versions. But some get so good that they can actually enhance your career, your relationships -- and your life. Here are the six old products perfected by brand-new improvements.

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