I have been obsessed with tech products my whole life, and I can’t imagine a world without them. Tech products are the first thing I think of when I wake up, and usually what I am thinking about when I fall asleep. My day job is my passion, and i’m so grateful to the world that this is something I get to spend the rest of my life thinking about and living in. That being said, I buy and consume a lot of tech stuff throughout the year. So I want to create a list of my favorite things that I was introduced to in 2022. From hardware, to software, to operating systems, to services, these are the products that made my year.
The Apple Studio Display
It’s sort of become a joke amongst my friends that I’m pretty obsessed with screens. I don’t know why this started. Probably during the pandemic, when I just blindly bought a TV and wondered why there was this white glow behind black text. I then looked at my phone and back to the cheap gaming monitors on my desk, and wondered why the color white on those monitors was either too pink or too blue. I also hated how pixelated everything looked on those monitors compared to my phone. Not for video editing, or anything, but for reading text! As a software engineer all you do all day is read text, and it might be placebo but blurry text had a horrible effect on my eyes while reading. I had to strain more often, and at the end of the day all I wanted to do was close my eyes and lay down. The studio display is pretty damn expensive compared to other monitors, even ones that are similarly specced and priced. They lack a bunch of features (limited to 60hz, single dimming zone / no HDR) that make many monitors better on a technical level. But despite this, they remain gorgeous. The color on the 5K screen always looks correct, regardless of whether you use a Mac with true tone or a Windows PC connected to it. The thunderbolt ports have yet to fail. The speakers sound phenomenal for a display. I can’t comment on the webcam much, as I use an Opal C1 instead, but half the time FaceTime uses the integrated one instead of my Opal and it takes longer than you’d think for me to realize that. It’s perfectly adequate now for video calls. As someone who predominantly works from home, this was the best quality of life upgrade I have ever bought, so much that I bought a second one.
I never much loved photo based social networks. I wasn’t popular enough in HS for snapchat to be fun, and I became hot long after the Instagram grid became something people cared about. For me though, I just want a way that I can keep up with what my friends are doing. BeReal is the first social network that actually allows me to keep up with the people I care about on a regular basis.
1Password was always known for being a product that put the apple ecosystem first. It had apps for other platforms, of course, but the apps on the iPhone / Mac were always created with the upmost care. When they announced their switch to an Electron UX on macOS, many people were rightfully upset. They stated this would allow them to move faster and build a better product, which I was skeptical was true. Turns out that was true. I’ve told people for years that if they want to spend money on their digital security, 1Password was the best thing to spend that money on. This is especially true this year. The addition of secret key support has once again shot them years ahead of their competition, including the native password managers bundled with the operating system. I still prefer to use enclave keys for SSH into sensitive systems, but its once again become an indispensable product for me.
Arc has become so essential to my daily life I genuinely forgot about it when writing this list. It’s not something I think about as a product anymore. At first I was a skeptic, but it has since come to be my daily driver for both my work and personal web needs. I think it’s the right paradigm to move towards in web computing, combining the concepts of favorites with tabs, forcing ephemerality of opened tabs, and making web apps a prominent part of the ux. The team behind it are friendly and responsive, and I have gotten to a point where I greatly look forward to their patch notes each week. I can’t wait until it arrives on Windows so that I can recommend it to all of my friends, and especially until it arrives on iOS / iPadOS so it can be my complete daily driver.
The Steam Deck
I have had quite a few differing opinions on this device over the past 8 months I’ve had one. Let’s start with the bad stuff. Its giant, the size of 3 nintendo switches. In its carrying case it will take up an overwhelming amount of space in the front pocket of a backpack, and only meets the definition of handheld in so much as you can hold it in your hand. It is certainly not easy to transport, and find myself sliding my laptop in my backpack to bring to a coffee shop far easier than I place my deck in my case to bring on a plane. Deck verified games are not “fuss free” like they are on a switch. Not only do you need to fiddle with the performance settings to get a battery estimation above 2 hours on almost all new games, but the verification status is sometimes a lie as it doesn’t take into account updates which screw up the Proton compatibility layer. I downloaded Wolfenstein II to play on a flight, a Deck Verified game, and couldn’t get past the second level due to a GPU bug which made it so I couldn’t see unless I was facing in a single specific direction. The screen is also pretty poor given the price. Many will complain about the 720p max resolution, but that’s actually the only way games on it are playable, and I don’t really mind. What I do mind, is that the Switch OLED, a device that is 50 dollars cheaper than the lowest end Deck model, comes with a dock and wireless controllers, has a gorgeous OLED screen while my Deck sits with its outdated LCD display. This often makes the decision of where to buy games a lot harder than it should be, especially between the deck as a hardware beast and the Switch being a glorified android tablet that was out of date when it was launched almost six years ago. However, and this is a big however, from a hardware perspective, this is one of the most impressive and well designed products i’ve ever seen in my life. It’s giant, but it never feels giant when you hold it. The buttons are in the perfect place. The touchpads work incredibly. The fact that it can run Elden Ring in my hands is nothing short of a miracle. I booted up Final Fantasy 14, a game I will never actually get fully into, on both my PS5 and my Deck and after fiddling with the controls a bit, I preferred how it played on my Deck. I love that the Deck is an open handheld I can do anything on, including play the best sonic game ever made. For years I often said that the Switch is a “kindle for video games”, but I think the Steam Deck, with its massive backlog and library, fits this bill even more. I played Doom 2016 perfectly on a plane. I played Deus Ex while on a vacation. If the new MW2 ran on this thing, it would probably be the only handheld gaming device I ever used. This is not a device to get someone who is frustrated tinkering with software or even a person who is unfamiliar with Linux, but for those who are this is one of the greatest things you can buy.
The MacBook Pro (16 Inch, 2021)
This is, without a doubt, the greatest computer I have ever owned in my entire life. I’ve both owned and used a great many computers and absolutely none have consistently smashed my expectations as much as this machine has. It has redefined what a laptop is and can be. It has more CPU power than the desktop I use in my office at work, it has more power than the gaming PC I use at home. It has a better screen than anything else on the market which isn’t OLED. It has fantastic speakers. It has a great keyboard. It has a trackpad that puts every other laptop to shame. It has a battery life that absolutely smashes every other computer on the market. All of that alone would be incredible by itself, but even on top of that, i’ve never heard the fan run once. I’ve owned many MacBooks over my life, being an apple customer for close to 20 years, but this is the first time I splurged on one of the more expensive models and even then it is worth every single penny. It’s put my iPad to shame. It’s put every other computer I used to shame. It’s hard to recommend anything else.
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