LG: Mike, is there an echo in here?
MC: I think there are about 78 Echoes in here right now.
LG: Are they all listening to us right now?
MC: Yeah, they’re always listening. For the wake word, but they’re still always listening.
LG: We have much to discuss today.
[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]
LG: Hey everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I’m Lauren Goode, I’m a senior writer at WIRED.
MC: I’m Michael Calore, I’m a senior editor at WIRED.
LG: Welcome back from Colorado, Mike. We missed you this week.
LG: You were on some big outdoors extravaganza.
MC: Yeah. I’m glad to be back at sea level.
LG: You saw elk.
MC: And heard them. They bugle. I didn’t know that about elk.
LG: They bugle? Really?
LG: Wow. Could you imitate the sound for us here on the podcast?
MC: Absolutely not.
LG: OK. I’m going to come back to that. We’re also joined this week by WIRED reviews editor Adrienne So, who is joining us from Portland, Oregon. Adrienne, great to have you back on the show.
Adrienne So: Hi guys. I am free for elk bugling whenever we’ve reached that point.
LG: What does it sound like? Have you heard an elk bugle?
AS: I have not, but we can speculate now if we want.
MC: They sound … Like, you might think they’re coyotes.
AS: That is so cool.
LG: I would not think that for an elk. Or elk, plural?
MC: You know what? Ask Alexa.
LG: All right, way to bring it back to gadgets. It’s another week. It’s another fall hardware launch. We definitely call this silly season for a reason. Some people call it Techtober. This week, it was Amazon. Amazon is now known for this deluge of new hardware every September, and this past Tuesday was no exception. There’s a new thermostat. It’s a really cheap thermostat. They partnered with Honeywell for this. There are updates to the video-based Echo Show. There are even more Ring security cameras, including a drone for inside your home. We first saw it last year, we saw it again this year. We’re going to talk about all that today. Because all of us, we’re covering the event virtually, but we’re not going to bury the lead here. The product that really stole the virtual show was Astro. Astro is a robot; it’s a robot for your home. It’s not another robot for Amazon warehouses. We have feelings about Astro. But Adrienne first, just describe Astro. This is the fun part. Tell our lovely podcast listeners what this thing looks like and what it does, in the most descriptive terms possible.
AS: You can describe Astro as a feeling, which is 10 tech reporters screaming simultaneously into Slack, I think was the reaction. It’s 2 feet tall, it’s 20 pounds. It uses SLAM navigation, which is a pretty common robot vacuum navigation mechanism to just kind of roll around your house, creepily trailing your 4-year-old as they play. It has a neck that can extend sensors, cameras, and microphones, and it costs about $1,000. It can’t go up the stairs, thankfully. So you have some place in your house where you’re safe.