My Tech Picks (Late 2023)

As 2023 comes to a close, I realize that it’s been some time since I’ve made a post sharing my tech picks. This year sees a handful of changes – nothing major really. But I do have a few interesting updates to share! So, without further delay, let’s jump right into it.

 

Computer Platform:  Windows PC – My prior love for Macs has really become a thing of the past at this point. Windows 11, despite some bad press (which I feel is completely invalid), is my OS of choice.

OS: Windows 11 Pro (64 bit Version 23H2) – As I said above, Windows 11 is the OS for me. I do have to admit to having some major gripes with a few of the more recent changes to Windows. For example, annoying reminders regarding back-ups (that can’t be turned off,), force-feeding AI into the OS, and a number of sloppy patches. All of this has made me raise an eyebrow more than once. But, some recent structure changes in Microsoft hints at a much more rigid future for the OS. Time will tell.

Hardware: As I hinted last time around, I did take the plunge and upgrade the memory in my PC. RAM prices are the lowest they’ve been in years, so I had to take advantage of it. Surprisingly, I’m still using the same monitors that I was this time last year. Unless one breaks, I may keep them for the time being. I don’t really subscribe to the all the hype surrounding 4K gaming. If anything, I may replace my hybrid drives this year with some basic SSDs.

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

Mainboard: ASUS ROG STRIX Z490-E

Physical RAM: 32gb  –  (Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz)

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: EVGA 850 watt PSU

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

Mobile: Android- Google Pixel 8 Pro (Android 14) – I didn’t jump on the Pixel 7 bandwagon when those phones were released last year. However, the AI features and the hardware upgrades for the Pixel 8 Pro, caught my interest. I must say, even though all of the features that were originally announced for the Pixel 8 Pro are still in the process of rolling out – this phone is absolute dream! I also upgraded my old Pixel Buds to the new Pixel Buds Pro and the entire experience is just amazing.

Tablet: Amazon Fire Max 11 Big change! My Windows Surface RT has been begging for retirement for years now. The only reason I didn’t put it out of its misery until now is the simple fact that all I ever used it for was reading comic books. Still, the need to upgrade could no longer be denied. For my new tablet, I chose the Amazon Fire Max 11. This may seem like an odd choice, but considering that this tablet can easily be jailbroken and sideloaded with regular Android apps makes it the perfect tablet for me. For starters, the size of the tablet is ideal for reading comics. The expandable SD storage also makes it workhorse for handling PDFs and other documents that I might need at my D&D table.

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

Web Browser: Chrome  Still my browser of choice. Edge started off as a strong contender when Windows 11 first rolled out. But Microsoft is being “very Microsoft” when it comes to the handling of Edge. Instead of getting better, Edge is slowly becoming more and more bloated. This is a shame because I was seriously close to switching my daily use over to Chrome at one time.

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 the Epic Store from time to time. But nine out of ten purchases are still done on Steam. I do have to admit though, The Epic Store is making some major advances (games now have achievements for example). If this continues, maybe we’ll see a bit of a shift in the future. Who knows!

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: Pixel Watch  – I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a Pixel Watch. I actually acquired my watch not long after my last tech update, so I’ve had it for quite some time. As far as my needs go, this watch is perfect! It has built-in Fitbit functionality, which is really important to me and it also runs any Android Wear apps. I wasn’t really enticed by the new Pixel Watch 2, so I haven’t made the switch to the newest version. We’ll see what future updates to the Pixel Watch line have in store.

Home Gaming Consoles:  Currently at our house we own the following: Nintendo SwitchWii U, PlayStation 3 (slim), PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X.  – This year I was finally able to get my hands on both a PS5 and an Xbox Series X. I appreciate the last-gen backwards compatibility that those consoles offer. I’m also slowly learning to embrace Cloud Gaming. However, I still have my PS3, so my physical library isn’t going anywhere. That statement is also true for my old PS2 games. I’m holding on to them even though I don’t keep a PS2 hooked up. For PS2 titles, I’ve resorted to emulation. The Switch does a great job at providing my with all the retro games I want (so far). My Wii U is hacked to enable GameCube functionality, if the need arises.

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

Old Game Hermit

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment