I figured it is time to update my list of software that I can heartily recommend. In all cases (unless noted) I have no reservations about any of this software and regardless of what awards it (or competitors have won) I have found these to 'just work' and usually for cheap.
In no particular order:
Virtual CD/DVD: -> Daemon Tools
--pros: simply the best and most versatile CD/DVD emulator. Mount images from ANYTHING with ease. Also, free.
--cons: comes with a chunk of adware that can be removed after the fact (or a good antivirus will nuke this as it installs) and it will still run.
PDF Reader: -> Foxit Reader
--pros: this is what Adobe should be. Small, fast and free.
--coms: not damn many, there are some 'pro' features that you can pay for... I don't miss them.
Anti Virus: -> Avast!
--pros: lightweight, yet complete. Free for home use. Does ONLY what you want it to and VERY unobtrusively.
--cons: You have to re-register every so often, but this is free and only takes a minute. I suppose this qualifies as a sort (very slow, infrequent sort) of nagware.
Network utilities: -> Network Magic
--pros: this is an outstanding program. It absolutely simplifies and centralizes all of your network 'stuff'. File and printer sharing, administration, security... everything. This does a lot of what professional network management packages (say from Cisco) do, for a very. very tiny fraction of the cost. "You don't need this" you say? "My network is small" you say? Pffft! Check out the online demo. YOU NEED THIS if you have a network of two or more PCs. It. Is. Cheap.
--cons: not every router is supported (mine happens not to be) however even without being able to remotely manage the router, it does 90% of everything it CAN do.
Web Browser: -> Firefox
Bit Torrent client: -> uTorrent
--pros: small, fast, cheap (free)
--cons: not many, but the UI is simplistic--which may be good--and there are the occasional hiccups. Nothing a restart of the program doesn't fix and these are rare.
P2P other: -> Peer Guardian
--pros: simple and effective way to shield your PC from the exposure that a torrent (or any other) open port client causes. Free.
--cons: you REALLY got to remember that it is running. Otherwise life will be sad when connections DO NOT HAPPEN.
Usenet reader: -> Newsbin Pro
--pros: best damn client. Fast, easy and cheap. Too much in the way of features to really go into, but there is a lot.
--cons: not free, but still not outrageous.
Video Conversion: -> ConvertXtoDVD
--pros: fast and lightweight. Cheap. Convert ANYTHING to DVD in a very few clicks, yet still retain the ability to highly customize the output if you want.
--cons: not free, but darn near.
Archiver: -> 7 Zip
--pros: hands down one of the ligtest and fastest archivers. Supports every dang format. Free.
--cons: There are a few annoyances in the UI, but the most recent beta seems to have addressed most of these.
[edit: Almost forgot]
Screen sharing/virtual KVM: -> Synergy
--pros: lets you share a single keyboard and mouse across multiple computers. It allows cut and paste and can be used to simulate dual (or tripple, whatever) headed monitors. Free.
--cons: The setup is a little arcane, but experimentation allows you to quickly sort it out.
Cell phone/Bluetooth Sync: -> Floats Mobile Agent
--pros: professional looking, easy to use, free (did I mention free?) syncs everything. Really, really, cool.
--cons: only works currently with a limited selection of bluetooth enabled phones (but if you have a Sony Erricson you are in luck or one of the other few) you are in luck.