Our last few Tech Miser articles have focused on Bluetooth headphones and a few browser extensions. Today I’ll dive into browsers themselves, and a few other handy items for your technological needs.
No, we’re not talking about classical composers. But we are looking at browsers, or at least one. If you said all browsers are free, you’d be at least 98% correct. But not all browsers are equal. Remember, as the tech miser, free is high on my list of desirable qualities. But free is still useless if there’s no value. Browsers do have value, since they’re our access point to the Internet. We aren’t going to see all those fancy websites without one. But a browser is a very personal thing.
If you stick 10 people in a room and ask them which browser they use, you end up with at least three possibilities. Maybe more. If we further ask those 10 why they chose the browser they normally use, you’d get at least some healthy discussion, maybe a few real arguments. As I said, what browser we use is personal. And we just got more choices.
Some of the folks from Opera browser started a new company, based on a new browser. It’s called Vivaldi. Opera has always been known for being lightweight when it came to using resources and having some unique features. Vivaldi takes those qualities and adds them to the Chrome browser engine. I’ve only used Vivaldi for about 12 hours, but it’s becoming my favorite very quickly. And your immediate question is why?
- Theming is minimal. There are several variations each of light and dark themes, no other alternatives. But the choices are attractive and designed to keep your focus on the browser window.
- Like Chrome and Chromium, Vivaldi is big on tabbed browsing. However, Vivaldi allows you to have your tabs set to any of the four possible sides, whatever works best for you. I kept mine at the top because Vivaldi eliminates that wasted part of the topbar with just the browser name. So, I get more web window without having to go fullscreen when I prefer having my taskbar visible.
- Do you regularly do some of the same things, using multiple tabs? I do. Vivaldi has something called Sessions where you can save a set of tabs as a Session. The next time you go into Vivaldi and want to do the same thing, instead of opening individual tabs and going to those same sites individually, you just open that saved Session. Much more efficient.
- I normally try to have a non-fullscreen browser as minimal as possible, to maximize the viewing window size while still having all the controls easily available. Vivaldi, unless you set it otherwise, has a bottom bar and a left sidebar panel. And you suddenly discover you like both. Both have easily accessed useful controls and are very narrow. The bottom bar includes a toggle of that left panel bar. Most of the controls are toggles. Which means that open panels don’t have to continually stay open or take up space. That includes bookmarks.
- I write and blog. As I’m researching, I often want to take notes or have a screenshot handy. Prior to Vivaldi, I’d open either Notepad or Evernote. The copy and paste command is my friend. But that required multiple apps taking up memory. Those features are built into Notes in the left sidebar. Which means I don’t have to keep multiple apps open just to copy info from one place to another, whether it be a blog post or an email. I can toggle to the note in the sidebar.
- There are some built-in security features that you can customize in the settings.
- If you have a large screen, you can use Session stacks to have more accessible and visible at one time.
Yes, there are a couple of cons to go with all those pros. I’ve seen a few speed tests that show Vivaldi being up to a full second slower than other browsers on some pages. Most of the time, that’s not noticeable. But there are times when it’s evident.
Another downside is they don’t include an account login. So, the ability to sync between devices isn’t available yet. That is, however, in their priority plans. And, while there are versions for Windows, OS X, and Linux, I’ve seen nothing about mobile versions.
Having said all that, Vivaldi is still going to be my daily driver, at least for a few weeks. If there’s reason for me to change back, I’ll report why, right here.
I’m not big on becoming an advertising outlet for a given brand. And Anker seems to have made a big enough name for itself with mobile accessories. But there’s one that just seems to fit my miserly tendencies for combining nice with inexpensive.
I like to use the alarm or a music app on my phone or tablet as an alarm. And I usually charge them overnight.. That means a charging stand is an essential. There’s a problem or two with those. They’re always made for a specific model. If you have a less popular phone, there may not be a charging stand for it. Prices range from about $10 to around $25, which isn’t bad. But that can add up if you have to buy a new one each time you get a new device. And charging stands tend to be bulky.
That’s where Anker has once again come to the rescue. The Anker Multi-Angle Portable Stand is just what the doctor ordered. It’s not a charging stand, but it does the job. The stand is durable aluminum and plastic, adjustable, and has a removable plastic piece in the holder area (allowing use without having to remove a case, or for thicker devices).
While it isn’t a custom charging stand, if you don’t mind landscape mode, it can be used for any mobile device. And that’s its beauty. When you move to a new phone or tablet, you don’t need to buy a new custom charging stand. The Silver model is $9.99, the black version is $1 more. So, they’re on the low end of the price range, plus being durable and usable for future devices. You save by not regularly replacing the stand. That could be a few lunches, over a 5 or 10 year period.