By Lauren Dragan

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer's guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

If I wanted to spend $150 or less on a pair of over-ear headphones, the Sony MDR-7506, for the third year running, is the model I'd buy. After we researched all of the over-ears in this price range that are currently available (around 110 units in total), read countless professional and user reviews, and conducted three separate listening panels of audio professionals, the Sony MDR-7506 emerged as the clear winner.


What if the vehicle delivering the goods to a remote village or group of soldiers could just vanish after it made the drop? Sounds crazy, right? Well, DARPA is hoping to do just that. The research unit it looking to develop solutions that can carry supplies to their intended destinations and then disappear. Named for the story of a man who's wings of feathers and wax melted when he flew too close to the sun, DARPA's new ICARUS program that'll examine the possibilities is an extension of its VAPR project. Of course, we expect DARPA is aiming for a more positive outcome. VAPR, which stands for Vanishing Programmable Resources, has developed self-destructing electronic components since it began two years ago. Aside from the obvious military uses, DARPA says a vehicle that vanishes in to thin air could also offer an unmanned solution for taking critical supplies to hard to reach areas in the aftermath of events like a natural disaster. Once the load is delivered, personnel wouldn't have to worry about getting the vehicle back out of the area.

[Image credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images]

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If you're a Wall Street Journal subscriber, you might be getting an unpleasant letter in the mail. William Lewis, CEO of WSJ parent company Dow Jones, just released a statement in which he reveals the company's subscriber database was compromised by a hack. It sounds like the intrusion isn't nearly as widespread or damaging as other recent hacks have been, at least. While Lewis admits that the company found evidence of unauthorized access to its systems, the company "has not uncovered any direct evidence that information was stolen."

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"Beats 1 worldwide. Always on," Ebro Darden's voice booms on the radio. A little over three months ago, Darden became the voice of New York on Apple Music. When the service was announced, Apple was already late to the music-streaming battle. But it hoped to gain some ground, and listeners, with a human edge. In addition to streaming music on demand and personalized playlists, Apple threw Beats 1 into the mix. The radio station would offer "human curation" in the form of three distinctly different DJs in music capitals of the world. But it also promised a star-studded lineup of hosts who would share their own playlists. Ever since, Drake's OVO Sound Radio has dropped exclusives; St. Vincent's quirky mixtapes have struck a note with fans sending in personal snippets; and Elton John's Rocket Hour has often taken listeners back to a pre-streaming era.

The Blue Brain Project is a vast effort by 82 scientists worldwide to digitally recreate the human brain. While still far from that goal, the team revealed a breakthrough that has already provided insight into sleep, memory and neurological disorders. They created a simulation of a third of a cubic millimeter of a rat's brain. While that might not sound like much, it involves 30,000 neurons and 37 million synapses. In addition, the simulated level of biological accuracy is far beyond anything so far. It allowed them to reproduce known brain activities -- such as how neurons respond to touch -- and has already yielded discoveries about the brain that were impossible to get biologically.

The Moto 360 made a huge splash when it was introduced alongside Android Wear some 18 months ago. It was by far the most attractive smartwatch the world had seen, and it held its spot near the top of the heap for many months after -- mostly because it looked like an actual watch. Unfortunately, the promise of the device didn't quite live up to the reality, at least at launch. Battery life was terrible; performance was occasionally sluggish; and the device itself was far too large for those with svelte wrists.

Fortunately, Motorola improved what it could throughout the year: Android Wear as a platform continued to gain useful new features; software updates helped fix the poor battery life; and Motorola started offering Moto X-style personal customization. But now, an all-new Moto 360 is in the wild, with two case sizes, totally new guts and a host of ways to make it fit your own style. But there are also far more Android Wear watches to choose from now than last year. Is the now-iconic circular Moto 360 still the smartwatch to covet? And, more importantly, does it improve in the areas where last year's model failed?


Following an Associated Press report in January, the government-run website scaled back its sharing of user data with third parties. Now, the site will let users opt out entirely as the next round of enrollment opens November 1st. Thanks to a new "privacy manager" feature, the Obamacare online portal allows folks to ensure details like age, income and ZIP code are kept away from advertisers and out of analytics use. It'll also disconnect from the site's social media tools. The website will also allow users to employ their browser's Do Not Track options to keep pesky advertisers at bay while accessing healthcare info on the site. "The internet is constantly changing, and we have an obligation to keep evolving alongside it," CEO Kevin Counihan wrote in a blog post. "We'll keep reevaluating our own privacy notice, the tools we use, and how they intersect with the evolving landscape of privacy on the web."

[Image credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images]

We've had a lot of fun this year with all our Engadget Live events. In July, we kicked off the tour in Boston, then headed to Los Angeles a few weeks later, and now are gearing up for Austin next week. But, while three's a crowd, four is a party! So, we're super excited to announce that on October 29th, we'll finish up our Engadget Live tour in our other home city: New York, NY! We're taking over the Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn on Thursday, October 29th at 7PM and will bring together gadget lovers (that's you!) and tech companies for a night you don't want to miss.

It's amazing what you can find on the streets of San Francisco. No, the actual city streets, not the '70s cop drama starring Michael Douglas. I recently came across a scavenger's treasure in the city's Sunset neighborhood: a fully operational Meade NG-70 Altazimuth Refractor Telescope. It was just sitting there on the curb with a handwritten note simply stating "Free" taped to its barrel. Now, I'll tell you, I'm not much of an astronomer -- inasmuch as I have never used (even touched) a telescope or ever had much interest in learning. The idea of standing around outside in the dark, fiddling with dials always seemed too much hassle to make very distant sparkly objects to appear slightly larger. But what I am also not is a sucker -- and a free telescope is a free telescope -- so into my car's trunk it went.

The popular password manager LastPass will soon have a new home at LogMeIn, which runs a remote desktop management service, the companies announced today. But don't fret if you're an existing LastPass user: LogMeIn says it'll keep the service and brand alive, while also adding in technology from Meldium, another password service it recently acquired. The news comes amid a busy year for LastPass. Back in June, the company announced that it was hacked, and a few months ago it added free mobile password support. For the most part, the acquisition seems to be about making LogMeIn a more desirable choice for businesses who want to give employees a simple way to secure their many passwords, across a variety of online services.

While we're stuck working out the mpg of a practical family sedan, Toyota's off playing with our dreams (or nightmares) with cars like the above. The latest round of concepts from the Japanese auto-maker are being shown at the Tokyo Motor Show, and include a diminutive, sporty-looking Scion S-FR (reverse-world FR-S?), the hot rod-esque Kikai and the hyper-futuristic FCV Plus (pictured).

NASA once said that no private company's reaching the red planet without its help. If that's true, then private space corps should be thankful that the agency has a solid plan to get us there. America's space agency has published a document that details the steps it's taking to reach Mars. In it, NASA outlines the three phases of its journey, starting with a step called "Earth Reliant," which is comprised of conducting experiments aboard the ISS and studying how long-duration missions affect the human body. This phase is already ongoing, with the agency testing out different materials and 3D printing on the space station and conducting appropriate research on human behavior and health for the first batch of lucky astronauts.

The desert shouldn't exist. At the very least, people shouldn't live there. We did, only not by choice.

When I decided to develop a virtual reality game based on my simultaneous repulsion and nostalgia for my hometown of Dewey, Arizona, I asked my friend and business partner Cody to score it. Cody and I met almost 10 years ago as young, bored kids who shared a love for punk and hardcore music; kids who also shared a mutual disdain for our desert roots. While I eventually escaped Arizona, moving to California for college and finding an outlet in art, Cody stayed in Phoenix, becoming a fixture in the local music scene, and blossoming into a writer, poet and killer guitar player. I knew he would be the perfect person to make sense of it all: the desolate landscape, the hilarious rednecks, the ramshackle towns and the searing heat. I was ecstatic when he agreed and couldn't wait to get started.

Because there's no up or down in zero gravity, the way our brains calculate 3D space stops working. As it turns out, that can be problematic, with astronauts finding it hard to complete basic tasks. It's a phenomenon that NASA wants to learn more about, which is why the agency has started to test a crew's spacial awareness before, during and after their trips to space. Whilst on the ground, participants are subject to MRI scans, and on the ISS they're asked to complete various tests requiring thinking and co-ordination. The reason that this is so interesting isn't just because the testing is going on above us right now, but because of what conclusions have already been drawn.

The California DMV has released the reports for a full year's worth of self-driving car accidents. From the accounts in the paperwork none of the eight accidents involving Google's cars can be blamed on autonomous technology. In fact, six out of eight of the accidents were drivers rear-ending one of the company's retrofitted Lexus RX450h SUVs, half of those while the robotic vehicle was stationary. It's worth noting that all the accounts come from Google, which is required by law to file documents within ten days of a collision.

Emergency exit in back of building

Here's some good news: the government has decided not to push for a law that would force tech companies to include backdoors in their software. The move means that your encrypted communications from services like WhatsApp and iMessage, will remain unreadable to law enforcement officials. That said, it's not the win for privacy and freedom that you might hope it to be, since officials are still going to be ringing up CEOs to quell their resistance. The Washington Post quotes one spokesperson saying that the National Security Council is "actively engaged" with these firms to "ensure they understand" the risks that come from encrypted dick pics. This is probably the right time to remind everyone that, when asked, the FBI's director James Comedy couldn't name a single investigation that was hindered by encrypted data.

We're back for a rematch. The ping-pong robot has had an upgrade or two, and in Rocky-style, your rival is now your trainer. Yep, the newest demo from Omron (a company better know for its healthcare products), aims to help you play it at table tennis. The entire table has been upgraded into a display, showing the predicted path of the ball, and even where the meatsack player should be hitting it.

Today on In Case You Missed It: LikeAGlove's new smart leggings that measure your body, then match you to the perfectly-fitted pair of jeans just went on pre-sale for $40. A new camera that reminds us of Lytro because of post-photo focusing abilities uses spider eyes as inspiration for its rig of 16 lenses with different focal lengths. But, it'll cost you at least $1,300. So soak that in for awhile. Meanwhile Adidas wants to 3D-print midsoles that are designed specifically for customer's foot contours.

Apple is now selling unlocked versions of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, giving you options if you'd rather not be tied to a contract or want a handset that works in other countries. The downside, of course, is that you'll pay the full retail price without those carrier subsidies -- starting at $649 for the (controversial) 16GB iPhone 6s at Apple Stores or online. In addition, Apple has started rolling out its latest iPhones in 36 new countries, including Mexico, Russia, Taiwan and Spain. They're now available in 48 nations, and will hit about 80 more by the end of the year.

Most home security cameras these days already come with microSD storage, two-way audio, motion detection and night vision, so it's about time someone offers a more powerful package. If you happen to reside in Japan, then you may want to consider OMRON's Kazoku Mesen aka Family Eye. Hardware-wise this is just a cute 720p video camera with all of the aforementioned features, but it's the company's OKAO Vision technology that really sells it: It's able to recognize faces, hand gesture, age, gender, expressions (it can automatically take photos of a baby whenever he or she smiles) and even cats plus dogs. Offices and shops can also take advantage of the Family Eye for customer analysis and head counts. Not bad for a ¥29,800 (about $250) kit, except for one slightly unfortunate flaw: It cannot record video, just still photos, so you'll have to rely on notifications and the app's live stream feature. We still want one, anyway.