my gizmos

Ask a Tech Person: What Are Taggart Matthiesen’s Favorite Gadgets?

Overwhelmed by the many options one has for headphones and speakers and streaming devices and laptops, we decided to drill people who work in technology about what they use in their own lives — their gadget diets, if you will. Today, we’re asking about the gizmos of Taggart Matthiesen, senior director of product at Lyft, who’s in charge of the company’s program for autonomous driving cars (they’ll be on the road in a few years, he says).


I have the whole collection of Sonos speakers. I’ve been a Sonos superfan for a number of years. My house is basically wired up with practically everything: I have the Sonos 1, the Sonos 2, the Sonos 3, and the soundbar. I’m pretty sure I’ve sold Sonos to at least a hundred different people. Any time a friend comes over and I show off how simple it is to use my speakers, they’ll call me later and say they bought it and can I help them set it up. If you look at what it used to cost people to wire up the house with speakers, it’s an entire order of magnitude cheaper. I could go on and on. I think if you don’t have any experience with Sonos, it’s the Sonos Play 1, which is just a fantastic speaker for simple pumping of good sound, and then if you watch TV, it’s the Playbar soundbar, which is awesome for movies. I don’t have a Sonos T-shirt, but if one existed, I’d probably wear it.

If you prefer, you can buy the Playbar and Play 1 on the Sonos website, too.

These are just awesome. I keep them in my bag — I’m actually using them right now to talk to you. I’ve had the Bose noise-canceling headphones before, and I liked them, but I have to say I prefer these SoundSports even though they’re wired because they’re (a) not insanely expensive, (b) don’t need to be charged ever, and (c) are pretty battle-proof whether you’re running around or sweating in them. I know Bose has upgraded them and come out with better versions, but these are my favorite.

I still have the 7 and have not upgraded because I’m completely happy with my phone as it is. I think about the amount of time I spend on it that it’s both baffling and embarrassing — everything from music to contact numbers to my social life to everything related to work.

I do enjoy my Echo quite a bit. It’s connected to the Sonos (of course), so I can just say, “Alexa, play jazz in the kitchen,” and it’ll just play on the speaker in the kitchen if I want to listen to something while cooking. But my kids will now say, “Alexa, tell me a joke,” which will turn the Echo into a whole other thing. Or they’ll start ordering things through Alexa and I’ll arrive home to boxes that have mysteriously arrived. I have to say, though, that I probably use it 90 percent of the time as a timer. I’ll tell Alexa to set a timer for three minutes or ten minutes, which is hilarious because I could just go get a timer for $2, but if I’m in the kitchen making guacamole or making bread, I don’t really have a free hand to go over and twist the timer.

So I used to have a Jura, which was great because you just pressed it once and the espresso would come out. But unfortunately, living in San Francisco, I’ve turned into an espresso snob. I can blame Blue Bottle and some of the other coffee shops around here for that, and I realized that the stuff I’d get at the high-end coffee shops was just better than even the stuff from my Jura. I probably spent way too much time researching this and did not think that a Breville would be the winner, but I read all the reviews of it and it actually came with a money-back guarantee, so I had nothing to lose. I bought it, and it’s just phenomenal. Even though it’s not one-touch, it’s still pretty quick. My morning espresso makes me feel like I’m at Blue Bottle.

So my laptop, no surprise, is pretty much an extension of my phone, but I’ve been working for 18-odd years in corporate America and have gone through a significant number of laptops. I have the new Macbook Pro, and although I’m not a huge fan of the new strip up top on the keyboard, it works well and is so fast. I never have to restart it or think about battery life or CPU or memory. Plus, it’s lightweight enough for my backpack, and the way Lyft is set up, we use a lot of web apps, and the computer is definitely fast enough for me to access everything.

So I do have cable and don’t really use it (it’s embarrassing how much I spend on my Comcast bill), because I really prefer watching shows on Netflix or from my library or HBO Go. The Apple TV I actually got a few years ago as a Christmas present when it came out because it had tight integration with Apple content (this was before streaming really took hold with Amazon Prime and the Chromecast). I did later upgrade because the Apple TV was just what I was used to, but I have to say that the new remote on the Apple TV, which lets you speak into it, is pretty dope. For my kids, who are still learning how to spell, it’s much easier and cooler for them to speak into the remote to find their shows.

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Ask a Tech Person: What Are Taggart Matthiesen’s Gadgets?