The Best Amazon Echo Speaker (2018)

Amazon’s popular Echo family of devices keeps growing. From the first can-shaped Echo, to the big-screen Echo Show, and even the cute Echo Dot, you can get Alexa into your home any number of ways. These Echo products can answer your questions, help you order essentials for your home, play all sorts of audio content, and even function as the control hub for your burgeoning smart home.

These are our favorite Amazon Echos for every home and every budget.

Best Overall

Amazon Echo Plus


The Echo Plus is the best-sounding Echo. Like the cheaper second-generation Echo, it has a tweeter and subwoofer, but it sounds impressive enough to justify its $50 premium. It’s also the best version to buy if you own smart home devices, thanks to its Zigbee support. Zigbee allows it to directly connect with products in your home that use that standard form of mesh networking—a network created by daisy-chaining devices together.

Buy the Echo Plus from Amazon for $150

At $150, it’s cheaper than most other Alexa read more

Is AR’s Future in Smart Glasses, or Just Your Phone?

With so many smart glasses showing up as prototypes and, sometimes, as finished consumer products, we have to ask ourselves: Where is this all going? Some say the future of augmented reality is a set of glasses you wear on your head, speaking and gesturing your commands. Others think it’s just your smartphone, which you hold up to see the world in a new light, Pokemon Go style. Whatever it is, we can see the first steps toward this future around us today.

Some notes: Why it’s so hard to make smart glasses look good. The Intel Vaunt glasses get written up at The Verge. Mashable tries the Bose AR prototype. Recommendations this week: Allbirds Trees, and the NYT Magazine‘s profile of Leopoldo López. Send the hosts feedback on Twitter. Arielle Pardes is @pardesoteric, and Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. read more

Facebook Lite for Android: A Hands-On Look

If you’ve ever wanted to go on a social media diet, here’s your chance. Starting this week, Facebook is making the slimmed-down Facebook Lite app available to Android users in North America, Australia, and Western Europe for the first time.

Facebook first debuted the lightweight version of its main social networking app three years ago to better serve users in developing countries—specifically, people in the parts of the world where a mobile data connection is difficult to access, unreliable, or just painfully slow. The streamlined app is only 1.68 megabytes in size, and downloads as fast as your average cat GIF. It installs on almost any Android phone, and runs well on flaky, low-bandwidth data connections. Critically, it uses less data than big ol’ regular Facebook; people who pay by the megabyte can use it to browse their News Feed without racking up crazy fees.

India and Indonesia were among the nations to get Facebook Lite at read more

Allbirds Tree Skippers and Tree Runners: Price, Details, Release Date

Footwear maker Allbirds has a new shoe out today. The company’s latest design doesn’t just refresh Allbirds’ casual silhouette, it also utilizes a unique new material—a textile spun from eucalyptus fiber.

Yes, shoes made from wood pulp. The novelty is reflected in the names of the shoes in the new collection. There’s the Tree Runner, modeled after a jogging shoe, and a new spin on the low-profile boat shoe, the Tree Skipper. Both are available today on the Allbirds website for $95 in men’s and women’s sizes.

Sole Provider

Allbirds already has two shoe styles and a line of kicks for kids, all of which have uppers made from Merino wool. So while the Trees’ wood-pulp construction is a departure from the animal-based textiles the company’s known for, it still fits in with Allbirds’ commitment to natural and sustainable materials.

The company developed its new textile in-house. It uses eucalyptus tree pulp, which is spun into a fiber read more

Best Robot Vacuums (2018): Pet Hair, Carpets, Hardwood Floors, and More

Do you live in a space with mostly hardwood floors? Is your pet a small, fluffy dog or cat, or maybe a guinea pig? The Eufy Robovac 11+ is a good pick for anyone who just wants light maintenance cleaning. The botvac doesn’t come with physical barriers or Wi-Fi capability, but it’s small, nimble, and quiet, and it’s easy to schedule cleanings and select different cleaning modes with the remote. Plus, it’s hard to argue with that affordable price.
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired

Why Do Augmented-Reality Glasses Look So Bad?

If the tech prophets are to be believed, the Next Great Computing Platform will be on your face. It will come as a pair of glasses, as powerful as your iPhone with the panache of your favorite frames. It will pipe your preferred virtual assistant into your ear and give you super-human vision like the Terminator. It will change the way you think of computers, and the way you see the world.

The race to make that first pair of commercially successful augmented reality glasses is on, with companies big and small lurching to become the AR platform you wear all the time. It could be Snapchat, with its second iteration of Spectacles. It could be Toshiba, with its new eyewear aimed at enterprise users, or Google, with a remake of Glass. It could be Vuzix or ODG, Intel or Bose, Realmax or Magic Leap. The list goes on and on.

“The holy grail is something that not only resembles a normal pair of, say, Gucci glasses, but has functionality that augments your life in a meaningful way.”

read more

Pi Day PC Deals: Microsoft, HP, Dell, Lenovo

Need a new laptop or desktop? Microsoft’s store has great discounts in honor of March 14, aka 3/14, aka Pi Day. That’s why you’ll save as much as 31.4 percent off some high-quality PCs from Lenovo, Dell, HP, and other manufacturers. Here are our favorite PCs that are on deep discount today. And, since they’re direct from Microsoft, these PCs are all optimized to run their best without pesky bloatware.

A Near-Perfect Ultrabook: Dell XPS 13

The perennial favorite PC, the Dell XPS 13, is available on discount today—dropping from $1,399 to $1,099. This version has an Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, a 4K UHD touchscreen, 8 GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD.

Buy the Dell XPS 13 9370 for $1,099 ($300 off)

A Decked-Out Gaming Desktop: Lenovo Ideacentre Y900

Due to jacked-up component prices (Thanks, cryptocurrency miners!) it’s hard to build a gaming desktop from scratch. So, why not splurge on this discounted Lenovo? It has 16 GB RAM, an unlocked Intel Core i7, and, most importantly, VR-ready Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics. All that for $816 off.

Buy read more

Which Microsoft Surface Should I Buy? (2018)

Microsoft’s Surface brand had a rocky first few months. When it launched in 2012, people loved Microsoft’s innovative, tablet-like hardware design, but the software was too confusing and too limited for many longtime Windows users.

Now, more than four years on, things are different. Not only does Windows run much more cleanly on tablet hardware, but it’s also become clear that Microsoft was an early innovator in mobile-friendly hybrid PC design. It’s hard to find a PC-maker today that doesn’t ape Surface’s kickstand-packing, detachable-keyboard-rocking form factor.

Since launching the first Surface ultraportables, Microsoft has expanded the Surface line to include a full family of computers, from a standard laptop to a giant, drafting-table desktop. If you need a portable Windows PC, it’s hard to find a nicer physical experience than what Surface offers. The problem is one of choice: with such a diverse family of premium computers, read more

How To Delete Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat

Social Networks walk a fine line between being a useful tool and a crippling addiction. Whether you want your free time back, or don’t like your information scattered about on the internet, you may be considering deactivating some accounts. Wanting to delete your account is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, the biggest networks have made it overly complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.


You’ve had your Facebook account for about a decade, and in that time you’ve posted a little too much personal information. Maybe you’re just sick of all the baby pictures and slightly offensive status updates your friends are sharing. You’ve had enough.

If you’ve ever deactivated your account you may have read more

How to Build a 3-D Printed House in the Developing World

In the low-slung hills of El Salvador, building a house is not an easy task. The land is vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruptions. The roads are rugged, electricity sparse. For the past several years, New Story—a housing charity based in San Francisco—has built over 150 homes there, replacing tarps and scrap metal shelters with houses that have proper roofs and floors. It’s slow, painstaking work in a country where nearly a third of the population is without shelter.

About a year ago, the company wondered if there was a better way to build. In the three years since it launched, New Story had gathered the funding to construct 1,300 homes and had completed 850 of them—but that felt like a drop in a bucket. “There are over 100 million people living in slum conditions in what we call survival mode,” says Alexandria Lafci, New Story’s co-founder and COO. “How can we make a big dent in this instead of just solving incrementally?”

The read more