The basic slate--or portable flat surface we can write on with erasable substance--was likely invented before the wheel and no matter how much cave painting or cathedral painting or novel writing we do, we never quite get over a need for something we can do that on and also carry easily. Even the invention of paper--several times--then cheap paper, then typewriters, computers, phones, tablets, none of these quite got rid of this basic need for something sturdy that we could physically write on with a stylus type object and then erase. Even if we rarely want to manually shape each letter anymore, or draw, we really don't like not having that option, and we go to extraordinary lengths to assure this continues.
A very real part of me believes the entirety of technology was invented to make a better slate, or if not better, one that looks cooler.
There are dozens of them, all LCD, all bright and shiny and still slates. I find this delightful, not least because I didn't really realize I do it, too.
All my laptops now require having a touchscreen, which makes sense; my phone and tablet have adapted me to being able to touch the screen so much that I poke my work monitor impatiently and only then realize it doesn't do that and boy do I resent it. In addition, my current laptop I chose because of tablet and stylus functionality; I can draw and write on it with handwriting recognition. I don't actually use it that often, but it was literally the deciding factor between this model and another touchscreen, identical except for that and somewhat (quite a bit) less expensive.
Yeah, I paid extra to get my late model newest processor all the RAM laptop with responsive keyboard, to mimic a smooth piece of rock with an electronic stylus to pretend to be chalk.
All in all, I think my ancestors would approve.
Ring 2 Doorbell - $129. If you voice order with Amazon Alexa--and you don't need an Alexa device, you can do it through the Amazon Music app--it's $99. Original price was $199. I had Ring (original) and yes, it's worth the upgrade; battery pack, so you can pop it out, better battery life, and being HD, much better picture.
Ring is super popular with IT people at work--any given meeting, you get used to hearing three to five people's Ring app audibly detect motion--so I spent part of today wandering through dev to spread the good news.
This is a sampling of what's available today. This shit literally changes at 2 AM every day.
FireTV Cube - $89.99 ($30 off)
FireTV Stick 4K - $24.99 ($25 off) with code 4KFIRETV
FireTV Stick + 2 Months Showtime - $19.99 ($20 off)
FireTV Recast 500 GB - $129.99 ($100 off)
FireTV Recast 1 TB - $179.99 ($100 off)
FireTV Stick + Echo Dot - $41.99 with code ECHOTV
FireTV Stick 4K + Echo Dot - $46.99 with code ECHO4K
FireTV Stick 4K + Amazon Basics HD Antenna - $59.99 ($30.97 off)
FireTV Blaster + FireTV Stick 4K + Echo Dot - $79.99 - okay, in case you're wondering what a blaster is, when paired with a Fire TV Stick and Echo Alexa or Echo Dot speaker, it gives Alexa to all your entertainment equiptment with IR. Yes, it's basically a universal remote except stationary and your voice instead of keys. Actually, pretty cool.
FireTV Stick 4K + FireTV Recast + HD Antenna - $174.97 ($50 off)
Ring Doorbell Bundles
Ring 2 + Echo Show 5 - $139.99 ($69 off)
Ring 2 Doorbell + Fire TV Cube - $218.99 ($100 off)
Ring Peephole Cam + Battery Pack + Echo Show 5 - $179.00 ($138.99 off)
Ring Video Doorbell Pro + Echo Show 5 - $179.00 ($159.99 off)
Echo Show (Gen 2) Bundles
Echo Show (Gen 2) + Sengled Lightbulb - $187.98, which is weird because if you get it without the lightbulb, it's $229.99. Yeah, that--exists.
Echo Show (Gen 2) + Wyze Camera - $205.76
Sonos Playbar + Mount + $50 Amazon Gift Card - $699.99 ($89.98 off)
Sonos Beam + $30 Amazon Gift Card - $399 ($30 off)
2 Sonos One SL (black only) + $30 Amazon Gift Card - $358.00 ($30 off)
Sonos One (Gen 1), White - $169 ($30 off)
Kindle (Gen 10) + $5 Ebook Gift Card - $59.99 ($30 off)
Kindle Paperwhite (Gen 10) + $5 Ebook Gift Card - $84.99 ($45 off)
Kindle Oasis (previous Gen) + $5 Ebook Gift Card - $149.99 ($100 off)
Echo Dot - $35.99 ($15 off). Using Alexa Voice shopping, $22.99
Three Echo Dot Bundle - $64.97 with code DOT3PACK
Amazon Alexa Whole House Music
So some entries back, I talked about how the Alexa Echos are bar none the cheapest way to set up an affordable full-house music experience that is very listenable. No, you're not going to get Bose or Sonos, but I do have a Sonos Beam as well as four Dots, an Echo, and a Show, and it's great and would be great without the Sonos Beam.
Echo Dot (Gen 3) is $34.99 but if you buy over Alexa voice shopping, you can get it for $22
Echo Alexa is $99.99 but may drop to $49 over Black Friday week.
Echo Sub is $109.99, down from $129.99
Echo Studio is $199, which is pricey--that's more than a Sonos Play:1 and equal to Sonos One--but also has Dolby Atmos, and as we all know and mourn, Sonos lingers in plain Dolby.
The Echo Alexa speakers are better than the Dots; the Studio is much better than the Echo Alexa; Sonos is very much better than both and Bose may be better than Sonos (I don't agree but whatever), and we could do this for a while. If you want multiroom music, though, you really don't have to wait for an upgrade in your income bracket to get it.
Personal experience has taught me not to listen to audio snobs and their refined ears--ambient sound is the most important part of the multiroom experience. One Dot alone is sad; three Dots aren't too bad and listenable; two to three Dots when playing with my Echo Alexa sounds really good; and when they're all playing together with my Beam, it's honestly amazing. The only thing I'm really missing is a sub to get bass, but that's for after Christmas sales.
This math works pretty much with any decent speakers at affordable; yes, we'd all love a Bose or Sonos system, but I'll be honest; unless you're a hardcore audiophile, you generally aren't going to notice unless you work in some audio field and your ears are spoiled. A pair for stereo + subwoofer is honestly all you need to get you started, and now that we have wifi speakers, you don't even have to worry about cords or going into the walls to get your speakers hooked to each other.
Your multi-room music experience could start today with two Alexa Dots and a Sub for $155.97 (+tax) if you Alexa Voice order two Dots at $22.99 and get the sub for $109.99. If you want the full size Alexa speakers, you can get the Alexa Sub bundle for $249.97 (individually, they would be $309.97).
Amazon Alexa Home Theater
Yes, it's here.
You can not only do whole house music with Alexa--you can create a budget Dolby Atmos Home Theater with HD sound. Her's how to do it.
You need one of these:
Fire TV Stick 4K (49.99) or Fire TV Cube (199.99)
Up to two of these:
Echo Alexa ($99.99)
Echo Dot (Gen 3) ($34.99)
And one of these:
Echo Sub ($109)
In the Alexa app, go to Devices and click on the + at top right to get groups. Select Set Up Audio System. On the next screen, select Home Theatre. Select Fire TV on the first screen, then the sub and either two speakers or an existing stereo pair--that is, two Alexa speakers you already have paired for stereo.
Right now, the limit is one (1) sub and up to two (2) Alexa speakers. Dots and Alexas both qualify: the Shows do not.
So you can get a Home Theater with high def Dolby Atmos for as low as $179.97 (+tax) with one Echo Dot ordered over Alexa Voice Shopping ($22.99), the Fire TV Stick 4K/Echo Dot Bundle ($46.99) and Echo Sub ($109.99). Your entire Home Theater would be $20.01 less than a single Sonos One (Gen 2).
Yes, this is the last section
Also, I'm currently testing this robot for my niece and nephew for Christmas. Yes, this was also a transparent excuse to buy a robot and play with it, that is why I love having nieces and nephew. So far? This is the shit. Robot responds to both the remote and gesture control and is programmable. It also dances and sings. This is very much a kid's toy, but it's also on the level of a kid's toy that they can learn from. Honestly, at $29.99, this is a really good deal. I'll update if I find anything sketchy, however.
ETA - I lied, one more
This list may be updated as insomnia happens.
These only show up on the page header if you go to a qualifying item because why make this easy.
$45 SlingTV Credit if you purchase a FireTV - the link has all the specific FireTV items covered, but FireTV Stick, FireTV Stick 4K, and FireTV Cube are on there as well as bundles.
Free Echo Dot with Fire TV - this refers to the literal TVs by Insignia and Toshiba, which--if you're looking for a 4K TV, are also on sale; Insignia 55 inch 4K TV is $279 and that's the most expensive; they go down from there.
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