COUNSEL, CHUBB GROUP OF
Product choice and robust competition in tech-
nology are good for consumers. The “consumer-
ization of IT” and “BYOD” programs have given
many corporate counsel more choice in the
tools they use. However, many of us haven’t had
the opportunity to study the available options
and, as a result, stick to what we know best. This
often means continuing to accept whatever IT
historically has provided, especially because we
are lucky enough to live in a time when those
are mostly “good enough.”
But I have spent way too much time testing
the various options. In this column, I’m going
to briefly give you my recommendations for the
devices and/or programs you get to use.
Mobile Hardware and OS — In the United
States, there are basically four mobile hard-
ware contenders worth mentioning: Samsung,
Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Here’s my take
Despite Samsung’s Note 7 debacle, the com-
pany makes some excellent smartphones and
tablets. However, Samsung tries too hard to dis-
tinguish its lineup from other Android manu-
facturers, and has customized its interface in a
way that loses some of Android’s best features.
Samsung devices also suffer from more build
inconsistencies than the others do, so I would
not recommend them for most people.
Regretfully, Microsoft smartphones never
managed to gain much traction. Their Surface
tablets, however, are very popular among hardcore Windows users, and Microsoft has been
doing a great job lately at iteration. I would keep
an eye on them.
IPhones and iPads have been my own primary mobile devices since 2009. If you’re not
a “geek,” iPhones/iPads are probably your best
choice. They are designed to be simple enough
for people of all ages, and are relatively difficult
to screw up. They also have the best overall
build quality and repair record.
If you are a geek, I recommend either the new
Google Pixel or the iPhone. Although Google
is a relatively new entrant into the hardware
manufacturing business, the new Pixel is a
very impressive smartphone — and the purest
expression of the Android. Preference for the
iPhone or the Pixel will most likely hinge on
issues such as how strongly you prefer better
privacy and security (iPhone), more customiza-
tion (Pixel), better apps (iPhone), and better
AI (Pixel). In general, I would recommend the
iPhone for all but the most savvy geeks.
Desktops, laptops, and operating systems —
I’ve been using a PC at work and Macs off and
on at home for more than 30 years.
Windows 10 is the first version of Windows
since 95 that I’ve really liked. However, I still
prefer MacOS. Independent studies have shown
that Macs require significantly less support, and
I would love to tell anyone who is interested
about the many varieties of superior software
available on the device — including MS Office.
But if you do want to go with a Windows
PC, I highly recommend the newest Surface
Book. It’s a little heavy, but the build quality is
excellent. Microsoft’s attempt to create a hybrid
tablet/laptop with a detachable tablet screen is
interesting and largely successful.
Office suites — I’ve been using MS Office
for a long time and this is one instance where
familiarity does not breed contempt. However,
I have also used and like Apple’s i Works and the
Google Docs apps quite a bit. Each of the three
have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.
Mail apps — Gmail and Outlook are running
neck and neck. Outlook offers better privacy, a
more professional appearance, and better integration with MS Office. Gmail, however, offers
better search, spam filters, and rules. Apple Mail
comes in a pretty distant second.
Presentation apps — I think Keynote still
beats PowerPoint by a substantial margin. It
is more feature rich and is made to help both
expert and novice presenters create far more
Spreadsheet apps — Numbers is more stylish
and works best for light users, Google is best for
collaboration, and Excel is best for power users.
Unfortunately I have once again run out of
space, but if anyone is interested in more detail
about any of these or other such choices, please
let me know. ACC
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