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Cheeps! So sorry about the fast sellout yesterday of that Dell printer. But kudos to the clever readers who found it selling for the same price at Best Buy or cajoled Dell proper into price-matching the Staples deal. You give cheapskates a good name!
Situations like this remind me to remind you that it's always a good idea to check the comments section throughout the day. Very often we can crowdsource our way to another option. So just because something sells out quickly, don't give up!
On to business: When Amazon announced the semi-mysterious Echo last year, I pulled the trigger. I honestly wasn't sure if I'd like the thing, and for the first few months it sat pretty idle in my kitchen.
Then my family started fiddling with it -- "Alexa, what's the temperature?" "Alexa, play my Coldplay station on Pandora" -- and almost overnight it became a fixture. Meanwhile, my parents bought one. My sister bought one. They love it.
Alas, at $179.99, it's a little pricey. For a limited time, though, you can score an Amazon Echo for $153.71 shipped -- still pricey, but I think worth it because you're buying into something kind of special.
On paper, the Echo is just a voice-activated speaker. Give it a command, it responds and/or performs an action. Smartphones have offered similar capabilities for a while, now, and both Android and iOS devices can do things hands-free (via "OK, Google" and "Hey, Siri," respectively).
But the Echo can do a lot more things. It integrates with a host of smart-home products, music services, automation tools (hello, IFTTT!) and so on. And it's loud enough to be heard from across the room -- not usually the case with your phone.
For a closer look at what the Echo can do, I'll turn you over to CNET's Amazon Echo review. To my thinking it's like Apple's first iPad: a product that seemed like a shot in the dark at first, but rapidly became a user favorite. Certainly it's the most "fun" gadget in my house, something that still delights visitors. I suspect that in the not-too-distant future, every home will incorporate very similar technology.
Bonus deal: In case you missed it last time around, StackSocial is once again offering "The 4-Hour Chef" audiobook by Tim Ferriss for free. Subtitled "The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life," the book is obviously about more than just cooking. And the print edition has a 4.5-star rating from some 1,800 Amazon customers. The only "cost" is sharing the deal via Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
Bonus deal 2: Also in case you missed it last time, Spigen is once again offering its Style Ring for $5.99 when you apply coupon code 3VUMW6RR at checkout. Normally $12.99, this smartphone add-on gives you an easier one-handed grip. It doubles as a kickstand and triples as a dashboard mount thanks to an included dashboard dock. That makes it far more versatile than my beloved Ninja Loop, and for the same price. I'm down for one!