I am frequently asked about information and sources of free software, and my most frequent response has had something to do with Gizmo and his comprehensive Web site techsupportalert.com. Gizmo, also known as Gizmo Richards, is really Ian Richards, an Australian who has been active in the hardware and software industries for many years and has developed an enviable reputation as the senior editor of a major computer publication. Gizmo compiled a list of 46 free software programs as a lark and intended it for internal use, but when his list went viral, Gizmo attained celebrity status.
Now, Gizmo’s TechSupportAlert.com lists more than 200 categories of free software, each product rated by his sizeable community of volunteers. According to Gizmo on techsupportalert.com/about-this-site, “Gizmo’s Freeware is a non-commercial community Web site staffed entirely by volunteers. Our primary function is to help you select the best freeware product for your particular needs. … No downloads, just honest advice and useful guidance. It’s honest because this is a community-based site staffed by volunteers and we have no commercial affiliations.”
Tech Support Alert is continuously revised, with new and updated categories of software appearing on a daily basis. I personally use Gizmo regularly to locate software for my own use, as well as make recommendations to others seeking free software solutions. One section that I visit several times a week is Gizmo’s The Editors’ Choice List: Our Selection of the Best PC Freeware. According to Gizmo, “This really is a ‘best of the best’ list. Most of the products in this list have been awarded the coveted Gizmo’s Top pick award signifying they are the best free product in their class.” The top pick awards are decided not by Gizmo personally but by the sizable community of volunteers who evaluate the software. On this page is a searchable menu, sorted by type of software, which makes it easy to locate the best of any category. Several of the categories not only list the top picks along with links to the latest review, but sometimes also discuss close finishers that have some substantial benefits or advantages. Gizmo is not a download site, but has the links to the software publishers’ Web sites where the software can be safely downloaded. This listing of “best” free software may be a wise choice to peruse prior to purchasing any commercial software, as many of the free products are very competitive (and sometimes superior) to their commercial counterparts.
With the expanding of popularity of Apple iPads and Google Android devices, Gizmo has expanded its ratings to cover those platforms. The Gizmo Best Free iPad Apps list offers the user a wide selection of top-rated apps, along with instructions for downloading and installation. Similar to the PC directory of top rated free software, this “Best” list is both menu driven and searchable. According to Gizmo, they “ only select the best from the free ones that work best on your iPad.” The menu for the free iPad apps is divided into 10 broad categories, with each category divided into a more detailed directory of the best apps. Each of these apps in the “Best” category have been tested and evaluated by Gizmo’s iPad community, and rated as the best app in their respective categories.
While the iPad apps listed were explicitly tested and rated for iPads, many of the listed apps have a blue plus sign on the bottom-right corner of their icon or logo, which means that that particular app is “ ... designed for or compatible with not only iPad, but also iPhone and iPod touch.” I just checked, and the Apple App Store currently lists nearly 400,000 available apps, but by utilizing the Gizmo Best Free iPad Apps list, users are likely to find the best free apps for their purposes.
Google’s Android operating system is showing up on smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices. Google currently lists more than 200,000 Android apps in its Android Market, but many of them are not free. Gizmo says, “To help you get the best of the free ones, we have selected some gems in each category and added them here in a single convenient list with clear and brief descriptions of each application item.” The Gizmo Best Free Android Apps has a searchable menu divided into 11 categories, with each category having a list of sub-categories, making the best apps easy to find.
I have found Gizmo’s TechSupportAlert.com to be an invaluable resource, and can strongly recommend it not just for PCs, but for iPad and Android devices as well.
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