TechRepublic contributing writers ranked the best tech in multiple categories, including VPNs, password managers, and headsets, as well as AI/ML companies.
We asked some of TechRepublic’s contributing writers to offer their expertise on software, networking solutions and hardware. They weighed in on the usefulness and standout features of some of the best technology for remote work, cybersecurity, collaboration and DaaS; in addition, Matt Asay compiled a list of the most innovative artificial intelligence and machine learning companies. The following tech products and companies were deemed the best of its category.
Most innovative AI and machine learning company
In Matt Asay’s article about the eight AI and machine learning companies, he ranked Hugging Face as the most innovative. Here’s what he had to say:
“Hugging Face, which started as a chatbot and evolved to offer a registry of NLP models used to deliver those chatbots, is now on track to become the GitHub of ML. Today the company hosts over 100,000 pre-trained transformer models and more than 10,000 datasets for NLP, computer vision, speech, time-series and reinforcement learning. More than 10,000 companies use Hugging Face to privately collaborate on ML applications.”
Best digital collaboration tool
Andy Wolber ranks Google Docs as the best digital collaboration tool.
“When I get asked to identify an exemplary real-time collaboration app, I point to Google Docs. When I first used Writely, the app that Google eventually bought, transformed and later renamed Google Docs, software-as-a-service apps were still relatively unusual. What made the Google Docs system so useful is that you needed nothing other than a browser and internet connection to create and edit collaboratively. Google Docs also eliminated the need to worry obsessively about using a File | Save command… .”
Best DaaS provider
In the best desktop as a service solutions, article, Jack Wallen named Amazon WorkSpaces as tops. Here’s why:
“The Amazon WorkSpaces service not only offers the ability to run both Linux and Windows desktops, but you are also only charged for the workspaces you use, and it’s on one of the strongest backbones on the planet: AWS. The single-seat minimum makes for a compelling reason to choose as well.
“Given that the pricing is monthly or hourly depending on your geographical region, you’re not looking at outrageous costs for using the service either. Because Amazon WorkSpaces can be HIPAA, PCI DSS and GDPR, these virtual desktops can be used when sensitive data is required. Most importantly, Amazon WorkSpaces can deploy either Linux or Windows on several different virtual hardware configurations, and with Amazon’s incredible storage facilities, you can trust those environments will remain both safe and reliable.”
Best VPN service for SMBs
Erik Eckel examined five of the leading virtual private network services for small and medium-sized businesses. This is why he named Nordlayer as the leading option:
“A major player within the VPN services sector with a variety of products, NordLayer offers small and medium businesses an easy-to-use VPN solution, requiring no hardware. Featuring two-factor authentication, single-sign on, an auto-connect capability, a central management control panel that logs which users and devices are accessing which gateways and even a site-to-site business LAN solution, NordLayer matches well with common business needs.”
Best password manager for SMBs
In Jack Wallen’s article on the best enterprise password managers, he ranked Bitwarden as number one.
“Of these choices, my pick for best password manager easily belongs to Bitwarden — not only because it’s open-source, but because it offers a perfect blend of simplicity and advanced features. Bitwarden works incredibly well on every platform and every browser. Although the free tier isn’t quite as feature-rich as the premium, you still get unlimited passwords and just enough features to make Bitwarden a perfect platform for those new to using a password manager.”
Best antivirus software for SMBs
When Jack Wallen analyzed the top antivirus software solutions, he noted Avast as the best option. This is why:
“Avast is not only perfectly suited for small and mid-sized businesses, who tend to overlook antivirus options, but it also performs exactly as expected without consuming too much in the way of system resources such that a desktop or server can become unresponsive. Although the Avast spam filter can sometimes be less than effective, Avast makes up for it by being highly customizable, with absolutely superior filtering, and it even offers advanced server protection features.”
Best tech for remote work
Jack Wallen compared the best monitors, keyboards and headphones for the overall best work from home experience. Here’s what he deemed the best in each category:
“The 32-inch Samsung Odyssey G7 is an ideal monitor for general usage. This monitor delivers a sharp 16:9 ratio at 2560 x 1440 resolution with a refresh rate of 240Hz. You’ll find accurate whites — without the need for calibration — and enough speed to play even the most demanding games. The G7 boasts a 1ms (GTG) response time and an input lag of only 20ms.
“One very keen aspect of the Odyssey G7 is that it is a 1000R panel, which means it matches the curvature of the human eye for even better immersion into your games and work. The G7 also supports NVIDIA G-SYNC & FreeSync Premium Pro, so you won’t suffer dropping frames. Other features include Infinity Core Lighting, QLED display for deepest blacks, and HDR 600 support. The Samsung Odyssey G7 is currently on sale on Amazon for $579.99 for the 32-inch QHD/240Hz version.”
“The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is by far the best keyboard I’ve ever used. Although it did take some getting used to due to its lack of traditional cursor keys and the addition of the Mod key, once my mind and fingers became accustomed to the layout, all other keyboards now seem antiquated and poorly designed.
“This split-design keyboard makes it possible for you to move each half to the perfect spot, so your wrists and fingers can type without stress. The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard makes it such that you have to depend on a mouse much less than you would with a traditional keyboard. And the fact that the keyboard can easily switch between layouts — such as QWERTY and Dvorak — and is fully programmable means you can customize the UHK to perfectly fit your needs. You’ll also find attachable modules available to add a trackpad, extra keys, trackback, and a track pointer.”
“The Sony WH-100XM5 is one of the most highly recommended pairs of headphones on the market. Why? First and foremost, the sound is pretty spectacular. No, these headphones won’t beat the likes of a pair from Focal, but we’re not looking to pay five or six figures for headphones. Instead, thanks to eight microphones, these workhorse headphones offer some of the best noise cancellations on the market while optimizing the sound you hear based on your environment.”