My Tech Picks (Fall 2021)

It seems that game developers have finally caught on to the fact that gamers love experiencing old titles. This is apparent with the current trend of retro re-releases. But, not every classic game is available on modern hardware. This means that playing retro games these days can still be challenge. I occasionally get emails from readers asking me what consoles I use when playing these older titles. I also get a lot of questions about the components in my PC.

It’s been a little while since I updated my readers with my current tech picks. My last update was a year and a half ago. And since that time, quite a bit has changed. For starters, I built an entirely new PC back in January. And, while I provided a lot of detail at the time, I’ve made a few changes since then as well. On top that, I’ve also made some updates in my day-to-day tech preferences. So for those that are curious about my personal picks, I’ve offer the following rundown:

 

Computer Platform:  Windows PC – I have a soft spot in my heart for Mac OS. But no matter what, I cannot deny the versatility of Microsoft Windows. I know that Windows isn’t “cool and hip”. But, to borrow a quote from Apple – it just works. And, contrary to what you often hear, it works quite well. Yes, Microsoft has made some rather bone-headed decisions in the last decade. But thankfully, it seems like they are finally acknowledge the error of their ways and are on course to correct it. Which brings me too…

OS: Windows 11 (64 bit Version 21H2) – It seems like only yesterday it was announced, but Windows 11 has now been officially released. That being said, I’ve actually been running it since it was announced in June. You see, as hard as this might be to believe, Windows 11 has been “finished” since its official announcement. The original preview build was released as 22000 – the same core build that made generally available to the public on release day. Yes, there have a number of cumulative updates, but the core build remained unchanged. That may seem mind-blowing to those of us who follow these types of trends. But in reality, Windows 11 is really nothing more than Windows 10 with a new UI. Yes, some of the design changes are radical but the underlying OS is nearly identical. Personally, I love the new look and feel. I’d recommend the upgrade to anyone that has a PC able to support it.

Hardware: When I posted about my new PC build back in January, I provided a detailed look at every component that went into the machine. Only a little has changed since my initial build.

CPU: Intel i7 10700k @ 3.6Ghz (5.1 turbo)

Mainboard: ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-E

Physical RAM:  16gb  –  (G.Skill Ripjaws V 3200s)

Graphics: NIVIDIA Geforce RTX 3070  (8GB)   (EVGA Geforce RTX 3070 XC3 Ultra)

Sound: Creative Sound Blaster AE-5 Plus

Storage:  Main: 500GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD    Secondary: 500GB Samsung EVO 970 SSD, and two Seagate 2TB Hybrids “Firecuda”

Networking: Integrated LAN, Bluetooth 5.1, WiFi 6

Media:  External DVD RW &  USB Memory Card reader

Power: 750 watt PSU

Monitors:  AOS G2460V 24″ (1ms FreeSync Gaming Monitor) & ASUS VG245H 24″ (1ms FreeSync Gaming Monitor)

Mobile: Android- Google Pixel 6 Pro (Android 12) – Since my last post, I have upgraded to Google’s newest flagship the Pixel 6 Pro. I loved my Pixel 4, but the perks of the newer hardware were too tempting to resist. That being said, the Pixel 6 Pro currently has its share of issues. Thankfully, every one of these are software related with a fix coming later this month. The user experience offered by the Pixel outshines any other Android phone (in my opinion). All of that makes this phone a no-brainer for me.

Tablet: Microsoft Surface – No change here. My personal needs for a tablet are very limited. I mainly only use a tablet for reading comic books and doing some light searching while in the living room. For my limited purposes, the original Windows RT Surface is perfect.

e-Reader: Kindle Paperwhite – No change.  The Kindle Paperwhite is an elegant and universal option that serves my needs perfectly. Yes, there are newer Kindle options available. But the Paperwhite remains my go to device.

Virtual Digital Assistant: Google AssistantI’ve tried nearly every virtual assistant available and I can tell you that Google Assistant is by far my favorite.

Web Browser: Chrome One of the big perks of Windows 11 is the integration of the new Chromium version of Microsoft Edge. I will go on record and state that the new Edge browser is simply fantastic. It’s fast and functional, and it uses less memory than Google Chrome. However, I still find myself using Chrome for my day-to-day functions. This is mainly due to the fact that Google throws up annoying ads and popups whenever you use Gmail on another browser. I hate to admit that such a barbaric tactic is an effective deterrent. But it is. I know this sounds petty, but if it wasn’t for that inconvenience, I’d have no reason to choose Chrome over Edge at this point.

Search: Google – Google remains my go-to for searches.

Email and Calendar: Google/Gmail – I still use Gmail for my personal email and calendar. It works great and never lets me down. So far, no other free email option give the same experience.

Office Suite: Microsoft Office 365 – Nothing beats it. As far as a desktop application suite, Microsoft office is the best. Office 365 (or as it is now known, Microsoft 365) offers the most up-to-date version of office for a low price.

Cloud Storage: OneDrive and Google Drive – As a Windows and Office user, I’ve found OneDrive to be a very convenient online storage solution. It integrates well into both Windows and Office 365. OneDrive works great with iPhone and other platforms as well. These days, I use OneDrive mainly for PC Backups, and I use Google Drive for photos and general storage. But, both are within arm’s reach at any time.

PC Gaming Services: Steam – No change. For PC games, I’m pretty much a Steam-only guy. I do make a lot of purchases on GOG and I’ve even ventured into Epic Store from time to time. But nine out of ten purchases are still done on Steam.

Music Management: MusicBee –  I’m one of those old guys that still has a large digital music library that’s tagged and sorted to my liking. To manage such a huge collection, I need the help of software. MusicBee is my music manager for the desktop. iTunes for Windows STILL just doesn’t cut it. It’s slow and clunky and just not a good experience.  (For streaming, I use YouTube Music, Sirius XM and IHeartRadio.)

Wearables: FitBit Inspire HR –  Still rocking the old FitBit and still waiting for Pixel Watch to materialize. When it comes to smartwatches, Apple has the market cornered. The Apple Watch is by far the most versatile wearable on the market. On top of that, it works well and is affordable. Yes, there’s Android Wear solutions, but they pale in comparison to what Apple is offering. Last year the news broke that Google was acquiring FitBit, so there’s certainly hope on the horizon. But thus far, nothing has materialized. Until that day comes, I’ll continue to wear my old school FitBit until it finally stops working.

Home Gaming Consoles:  Currently at our house we own the following: Nintendo SwitchWii U, PlayStation 3 (slim), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and an Xbox 360.  – My original Fat PS3 model finally bit the dust and I had to replace it with one of the later gens. But, I still keep a PS2 put away in the closet for emergencies. I’ve also hacked my Wii U to enable GameCube functionality, if the need arises.  Still no PS5 or Xbox Series X for us yet.  (Not that you can find one)

Mobile Gaming: Both my children and I have a Nintendo 3DS. I also have an old PSP.

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