Here’s the best tech gear I own and use in 2021 | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge | #cybersecurity | #infosecurity | #hacker

Long ago, but not so far away, I used to do an annual awards column, calling out what I thought were the best new tech products of the year. That schtick fell by the wayside around the turn of the century, but maybe it’s time to bring it back in more modest fashion.

When I was doing those awards – unfortunately called the Attaboys – they were mostly products I reviewed, but didn’t necessarily own. For 2021, I’m giving an unnamed nod to the gear I actually paid for, or use in everyday work and play. These aren’t items I’ve tried out for two weeks and sent back — they’ve withstood various tests of time. That I continue to be happy with them is the best endorsement I can give.

Spark works on many different platforms, and soon will come to Windows.

(Courtesy Readdle) / (Courtesy Readdle)

Free, with a premium version. iOS, Android, macOS

When I quit working for big corporations full-time, I lost access to Microsoft Office, and most notably Outlook, which I really liked as an email client (don’t judge me!). Apple’s Mail app wasn’t cutting it on my Macs, so I sought an alternative and found Spark, which is one of the best free email clients you can find on any platform. And while the desktop version is only for Macs at the moment, a Windows version is coming soon.

Spark’s layout looks a lot like Outlook. As do many email apps, it uses artificial intelligence to guess what emails are most important, handling them accordingly. But if you prefer to see mail in chronological order, you can turn the AI off (which I have). Once you have it set up on your Mac, it’s drop-dead easy to install the mobile version on an iPhone or Android device. Just log into your main account, and any other additional email accounts are automatically logged in.

Free. Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux

Microsoft’s Edge web browser sits atop the same open-source foundation as Google’s Chrome, and it can even use Chrome’s vast library of extensions. But Microsoft has added features that make it unique enough that it’s worth considering, even on platforms other than Windows.

I prefer Edge on my Macs and Windows systems mainly because of one feature: Vertical tabs. You can toggle Edge to show web page tabs running down the left edge of the browser. This has two benefits: If you have a lot of tabs open, as I usually do, you can always see the title of the page. And it gives you a little more real estate to show content, as the tab bar atop the page goes away. This feature works best on a notebook display, but I still appreciate it on my 27-inch iMac. Another benefit: Edge does not seem to be the memory hog that Chrome has become.

$15 monthly, $10 with ads

Smart cord cutters sign up for myriad streaming services when shows or movies call to them, and then cancel the subscription when the content has run its course. For me, HBO Max has become one of a very few that I stick with, because there is always something great there. (I also put Netflix and Apple TV+ in that category.)

HBO Max, which is a combined effort from HBO and its parent, WarnerMedia, includes content both new and old, including Warner Bros. films as they are released to theaters, such as “The Matrix Resurrections.” As HBO has always had, it’s got quality streaming shows such as the “Sex and the City” reboot “And Just Like That…” or the horror series “Lovecraft Country.” But it also has deep vault of classic content, from shows like “The Sopranos” to the films in the TCM collection. It’s pricey, but for lovers of quality shows and movies, it’s worth it.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a notebook as good as the 2021 MacBook Pro.

Dwight Silverman / Dwight Silverman

Starts at $1,999 for 14-inch model

As I wrote in my review last month, Apple has recovered well from the many flaws in the 2016 MacBook Pro redesign, which emphasized thinness to the detriment of, well, just about every other facet of a laptop. This is easily the best notebook computer I’ve owned, for many reasons.

It uses Apple’s homegrown M1 Pro processor, which is based on the same powerful, energy-saving chips in iPhones. As a result, it’s incredibly fast with almost-unheard-of battery life — it’s not unusual for me to get 15 hours of power from a full charge. So far, compatibility has not been an issue; it runs all the apps I had on my older, Intel-based MacBook Pro. Its mini-OLED display is beautiful, and it has a full collection of ports, rather than just USB-C, as on the 2016 design. The only real negative, and it’s not much: The display has an iPhone-like notch top and center, but no Face ID.

The Sony Bravia X90J 4K TV is an excellent bargain at its $999 price.

The Sony Bravia X90J 4K TV is an excellent bargain at its $999 price.

(Courtesy Sony) / (Courtesy Sony)


Some folks buy TVs every few years, but I tend to hold onto them for a while. My Samsung HD TV had served me well since 2011, but after a decade, it was time to move into the world of 4K television. After learning more than I probably needed to know about buying a new TV, I settled on a 55-inch version of Sony’s Bravia X90J, a full-array LED set that sits just below Sony’s higher-quality (and much higher prices) OLED products.

This model supports 4K TV – which is about four times the resolution of HD TVs – as well as the more advanced display features of HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The picture is phenomenal, it has plenty of HDMI ports, and it comes with the latest version of Google TV (previously called Android TV) as the operating system. At the time I paid about $1,200 for it, but as it is no longer the latest-and-greatest, the price has come down by about $200. If you need a 4K TV, it’s a great buy at that price.

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