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PIA was founded in 2009 by Andrew Lee, a long-time privacy advocate. PIA uses OpenVPN for encryption, does not log user data, supports multiple devices and has distributed servers everywhere. I get good connection speed (YMMV) most of the time. The best thing I like about PIA? Back in 2016, when they were forced to log user data in Russia, they decided to shut down their service in that country. 👍
This "premium fast food" chain needs no introduction! The original location of the first "shack" in Madison Square Park is still the best (except in winter ❄).
Hidden in a back alley in Chinatown, you may be surprised that lots of people have found this little gem serving traditional Cantonese dim sum since the 1920s. The place gets especially crowded on weekends between 11:30 am to 2pm. Buck the trend! Who says you can't eat dim sum for dinner?
Three buddies from California and Tijuana dish out casual, authentic Mexican tacos like grilled cactus, carne asada, and quesadillas with homemade aguas frescas (horchata, tamarind) at packed Chelsea Market.
Cookshop is one of the best places for brunch in Chelsea, and the long lines on weekends are a testament to how good they are. Chef Marc Meyer is known for his rustic rendition of American classics. Favorites here include the Brioche French Toast, Huevos Rancheros, Fried Egg Sandwich, Frittata. $$
Google Wifi works differently than a traditional router. You set up multiple points to create a “mesh” network that delivers a consistently strong, secure signal. You can start with just one (up t0 1,500 square feet). Got a bigger house with dead zones? Simply add another one (up to three in total) to expand the coverage. All the routers will act as one seamless network. Setup/maintenance is easy with the free app, with a performance that should be good enough for most people. $119 each.
Most consumers might not know TP-Link, which is a shame because the company is punching above their weight class with good products like this one. So it's no surprise to me that they won the JD Power 2017 award for Best Customer Satisfaction For Wireless Routers for the first time. The AC 1750 packs solid specs with above average reviews at PC Mag, Tom's Guide and TechRadar. 2-year warranty vs one-year for most other brands. $79.99
This is the follow-on to the popular MDR1000X (2016) and the Sony team has since improved the active noise-cancelling to match or perhaps even exceed the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. The sound quality is balanced with clear trebles and good bass response, and the over-ear cups are soft and super comfortable on the ears. Touch controls are responsive and easy to use. The wireless connection is solid and sustained. Up to 30 hours of play on a full charge (and support for quick charge ). $339.
StrongVPN has been around for a while (2005) so it's one of the stalwarts in the business. They have a strict no-logging policy with nearly 700 servers in 70+ locations. Unlike some other VPNs, StrongVPN runs and operates their own network infrastructure so they can deliver better connectivity. For up to 5 devices, you'll pay $10/month or $5.83/month on a one year plan, with 30-day money back guarantee. CNET rates 5/5 which puts it amongst it's top recommended VPNs!
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, and boasts of 500+ servers in over 180 locations. Connections are zippy, and I like that they have built-in support for Kodi, Netflix , etc. Pricing is as low as $4.15/month on a one year plan and they do offer a 31-day money back guarantee. The biggest gripe (and frankly, a potential deal-breaker for a lot of you) is they log data. Hey, at least they tell you what they log or don't log, but given that this is a HK-based company, who knows. CNET rates it 4.5/5.
This is a no-brainer for Apple fans - it's the ONLY streaming platform that can access iTunes content. It supports 4K content (except YouTube 4K), HDR and Siri voice control. Now that Amazon Prime video has arrived on Apple TV (prior to Dec 2017, Prime video was not supported), the Apple TV offers the most complete content offering of any streaming platform. With built-in storage (32GB/64GB at $179/$199), it is expensive, but it is arguably also the best streaming device available today.
TorGuard is not affiliated to that Tor. Based in Nevis (in the Caribbean, if you're wondering), TorGuard does not log user traffic, but it is within US jurisdiction. With over 1,500 servers in 50+ locations, connections are consistently fast for most users. They accept crypto payments, which may be an added bonus for some people. At $10/month or $59.99/year, it is reasonably priced. There is a 7-day money back guarantee (vs 30-days for most others). CNET recommended (July 2018) 👍
Gamers know MSI is one of the trusted brands for gaming rigs, and the GV62 does not disappoint with an Intel Core i5-8300H, GTX 1060 w/3GB GDDR5, 8GB DDR4 system memory, and 128 GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD. $999 - only from Newegg. It's going to be hard to top this one for the best gaming laptop under $1,000 🤟
The 2.8lb HP Spectre x360 13t is one of the best convertible laptops you can buy today. The 13-inch model (with touchscreen, hence "13t") is beautifully engineered, and configurable with the top-of-the-line specifications such as 8th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, 16GB memory and 256GB to 2TB of solid state drive. The 1080p screen IPS LCD screen is bright with a rich color gamut (+$150 for 4K resolution). Battery life at 5-6 hours is average. From $1,239. As recommended byWired Mag.
This compact streaming stick supports 4K and HDR. The user interface is intuitive and responsive with little/no lag. The dedicated remote is a delight to use with quick access buttons for Netflix and Hulu - two of the most popular streaming apps out there. To top it off, the stick has an advanced Wi-Fi receiver to pick up your Wi-Fi signal across further distances. Roku's integrated search also lets you search for titles across all apps, and it mostly works as promised. A steal at $53.
Named after the quiet Vinegar Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn (also known as "Irishtown" in the 19th century), this is a local standout that feels like a visit to the yesteryears. The decor retains much of the original carriage house/butcher shop character. Expect to be wowed by the rustic wood-fired fare like the Cast Iron Chicken or the Red Wattle Country Chop. Also, try the Guinness chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. Outdoor seating/ weekend brunch available . Bib Gourmand 2012-2018!
Paul Giannone was a software manager at AT&T who turned his passion for pizza-making into a great second act. He built his own Pompeii brick oven and learnt how to make fresh mozzarella. Despite this, he was repeatedly rejected by pizzerias for his "lack of experience". So in 2010, at the age of 56 years old, he opened his own pizzeria in Greenpoint to make wood-fired Napoletana pizza with the best ingredients he could find, and the rest is history. Dinner only (Opens 6pm M-F; 5pm weekend). $$
The original RX100 was so revolutionary, it was named one of Time Magazine's 2012 'Best Inventions'. Six years later (an eternity in technology), it remains a CNET recommended compact camera (as of Aug 2018). It doesn't support WiFi/NFC, and it doesn't have an electronic viewfinder (nor a tilting LCD), but the 1-inch Exmor sensor and F1.8-4.9 Zeiss lens still capture very good images that few other cameras. Originally priced at $650, it is still available from select retailers at $368.
At $509.99, the ASUS VivoBook F510UA is a rare breed with an 8th gen Core i5, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and Windows 10. The 15.6" screen is bright and crisp with a decent range of viewing angles. The keyboard is roomy and responsive, and it's got all the ports you'll need: 1x USB-C, 3 x USB-A (incl. one 3.0 port), HDMI, SD card reader and of course, an audio jack. At just 3.7lbs and 0.8" thick, it comes with nearly 7 hrs of battery life (PC Mag). The compromise?1TB HDD, though an SSD upgrade is possible.
While fans of Sex & The City know Magnolia Bakery for their cupcakes, the fans of the bakery (chain) know the quintessential must-try dessert is the banana pudding!! The first time my friend introduced it to me, I pooh-poohed it....I've tried a lot of puddings in my life yada yada - they're all over-rated. Not this one - THIS IS DIFFERENT! Over the years, a lot of my friends back me up on this one. It's now my fav on Magnolia. Be forewarned though - you'll be back for more after you try it! $ 😉
The Roomba 690 is the successor to the very popular and trustworthy 650 (discontinued in May 2017). This is a solid mid-priced option with a powerful motor to suck up dirt in thicker carpets, albeit at the expense of battery life (1.5-hr) and noise. iRobot offers excellent support, including ease of replacing parts and brushes (it still sells parts for the original Roomba from 2002!). Ideal for apartments (~1,000 sf), it's a bump-and-runner with a virtual wall and an excellent app. $280.
Hell’s Kitchen alone has nearly two dozen Thai eateries, but this popular place specializes in noodles and other small dishes that are hard to find elsewhere. I love the street vibe and the unique flavors. It’s truly one of a kind! In fact, I still haven’t found another Thai restaurant in NYC that serves a Ratchaburi noodles (one of my favorites) like they do here. Go early (before 6pm) or go late (or go alone!) to avoid the 45min+ waits. $$
Toriko is a famous chain for yakitori in Japan. In Aug 2018, it just opened its first location on Carmine St in the Greenwich Village. Historically, yakitori was cheap street fare in Japan, but in recent years, the concept has gone decidedly high end - just witness Torishin's one-star Michelin recognition. Purists believe the best yakitori (like Torishin's) is grilled on binchotan ("white charcoal"), but Toriko uses electric grills. The 10-skewer omakase is priced at $85. $$$
The Nebula is unique because it runs on Android with native apps like Netflix & YouTube, and it can also mirror any smartphone. At 100 lumens, it's not the brightest but enough for a 100" picture in the dark. The integrated speaker is loud, and can also stream music as a bluetooth speaker. At just 1.0lb, the 4-hour battery life is excellent (30 hours if music only) vs the typical 1-2 hours for most pico projectors. Dings: No SD card slot for external media, and the 854×480 resy is non-HD.
Yes, this is an outpost of the same Boqueria you're familiar with, and they definitely brought the downtown vibe to this uptown location. The tapas bar is well-known for the hip crowd, and of course, a great rendition of your favorite tapas such as patatas bravas, pan con tomate, pulpl a la plancha, and my personal favorite....the nutella churros 😋Small plates are affordably priced at $5-14 while large plates are mostly between $13-20. Decent selection of wine and beer too! $$
Trendy and cute coffee shop in a beautiful space beside a chapel. And yes, this is the same Aussie Bluestone Lane that has expanded to several locations. The vaulted ceilings are beautiful and inspiring, and there is plenty of sitting inside and outside. This is as close as it get to a coffee church (sorry, couldn't resist the lame joke). 😁It is located just steps from Central Park so it does get a bit crowded when the weather is nice. Avo toast is a must try (if you haven't already). $
This pizzeria in Carroll Gardens/Brooklyn is still one of my favorite go-to pizzerias in New York. The wood-fired oven produces an impossibly flavorful pie that is the stuff of dreams. Pizza lovers are known to hike all the way from upper Manhattan to feed the cravings. The place is rustic and small, but they don't take reservations (though some claim RESY works), so it can be a challenge if you show up famished. Come prepared for a long wait, and yes, it's BYOB. Cash only. $$
For me, this is NYC's best barbeque. Why? Hometown, as the name suggests, doesn't try to be someone (or somewhere) else. Pitmaster Bill Durney (who was a bodyguard to celebrities) took an apprenticeship in the art of BBQ, and instead of mimicking a regional style, he created his own for New York and he nailed it. The restaurant is located in Red Hook, where both his grandmothers lived when they came to America. Eater's Ryan Sutton also proclaims this place his favorite BBQ in NYC. Enough said.
This "rustic swank" Nomad restaurant by Stephen Starr and Justin Smillie serves one of the city’s best brunches with classics like eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes to smoked salmon pizza and cacio e pepe. President Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton both dined here (separately) so they must be doing something right! $$$
Erik Ramirez was a sous chef at three-star Eleven Madison Park before he opened Llama Inn in Williamsburg . The restaurant "pays respect to all styles of Peruvian cooking, but with the technical flair of a chef who has trained in New York's top restaurants." The fluke ceviche is a highlight, as are other fish dishes like the raw cut sea bream tiradito. My personal favorites are the wonderful anticuchos - little skewers of pork belly, tuna or sea scallops. $$$