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Testing: Pro Boat Shockwave 26 RC Boat

Last year, I presented an introduction to RC boats that focused on smaller models. This time around, I'll be stepping up in size and power. The boats featured in the previous article (Aquacraft Reef Racer 2 and Minimono) measure about 17" long. The 26" Pro Boat Shockwave 26 ($230) I'm reviewing today is significantly larger. The greater size allows for additional capabilities and performance tuning while also introducing more maintenance overhead.

The Pro Boat Shockwave 26 is a fast, brushless powered boat that provides a logical step up from smaller, beginner-oriented designs.

Shockwave 26

The Shockwave 26 is only available as a Ready-To-Run (RTR) package that includes the fully-assembled boat and a pistol-grip transmitter. You have to provide a 2-cell or 3-cell LiPo battery and a charger. I think that I fall right into the target demographic for this boat: sport boaters who are ready to step up in size and power from beginner models.

The hull of the Shockwave is made of molded ABS plastic. All of the running gear and radio equipment is located on an internal tray. There is a sealed hatch cover that keeps water from seeping in (mostly). Thumb screws are used to secure the hatch in place. On my model, the e-clips that make the thumb screws captive were prone to fall off. So I tacked them to the screws (carefully) with CA glue.

Power for the Shockwave comes from a 2000kV (rpm/volt) brushless motor. The motor is regulated by a surprisingly small 30 amp ESC. Both of these components are water-cooled, using a pickup system located in the rudder. Sitting astride the ESC is a 2-channel 2.4GHz radio receiver. Further aft is a Spektrum S603 steering servo that actuates the rudder. The receiver and servo are waterproof units.

Tested: DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter

After flying and testing the Phantom 3 Professional for a few months, we review DJI's latest consumer quadcopter. The Phantom 3 is a worthwhile upgrade to last year's Vision+, improving on flight system, gimballed camera, and integrated wireless video transmission. But if you can't edit 4K video, we would get the Advanced model. Plus, plenty of sample footage!

Testing: Pebble Time Steel Smartwatch

Our testing and review of the Pebble Time left us a bit underwhelmed. The second-generation smartwatch, equipped with a new color display, felt half-baked. Functionality was fragmented between iOS and Android users. Promised features like voice notes didn't make it to launch. Battery life was a little worse than the original Pebble. And annoying flaws like an aggressive vibration motor and recessed screen made the Pebble Time difficult to recommend at its $200 price.

Since our initial review, Pebble has released two significant software updates to its platform, as well as a new $250 Pebble Time Steel model. Together, they address the many of the problems I had with the Pebble Time. I've had the steel model for about a week, and wanted to share some thoughts now that both models are available to order.

First, the software fixes. Pebble's 3.2 and 3.3 firmware updates--along with corresponding smartphone app updates--provide some stability and bug fixes as well as useful features. Notably, users can adjust the intensity and time-out duration of the backlight (medium works great for me), tweak system font size, and set the strength of the vibration motor to one of three settings. Putting the motor on low feels right for my wrist and doesn't rattle my side table in the morning when emails start flooding in. Additionally, notifications are now synced between Android phones and the Pebble, so any notifications dismissed on the phone go away on the watch as well. Good stuff.

The Best Wi-Fi Router (for Most People)

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy.
Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com

After spending a total of 200 hours researching and testing over 20 Wi-Fi routers, plus analyzing reader comments and feedback, the $100 TP-Link Archer C7 (v2) is the router we recommend for most people right now. This dual-band, three-stream wireless-ac router usually costs between $80 and $100—the same price as many older, slower routers. But unlike those slower routers, the C7 supports the fastest connections of every major device you can buy today.

We compared the Archer C7 against 21 different routers over a 10-month testing period. On most of our tests, the Archer C7 was the fastest—outperforming routers that cost twice as much. You won't find a better-performing router than the Archer C7 for less, and you'll have to spend a lot more money to get a better one.

Kickstarter: Reissue of the 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual

Hot on the heals of NASA's old 1975 Graphics Standard Manual getting some love in blogs and on Flickr, a new Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to republish that manual for fans of the NASA worm logo. Jesse Reed & Hamish Smyth have had success with crowdfunded reissues of famous graphics manuals before, and are sourcing this reprint with scans from designer Richard Danne's personal copy of the 1975 document.

In Brief: Amazon Prime Video Enables Offline Viewing

As rumors of Apple developing its own original video streaming service get traction, Netflix competitors Amazon Prime Streaming and Hulu both make announcements to bolster the value of their own services. First, Amazon announced today that select Prime movies and TV shows can now be downloaded for offline viewing on mobile devices (Fire phones/tabletse, Android devices, and iOS devices). A "Download" option will appear in compatible videos, and subscribers will have less than 30 days to watch them. The content selection includes Amazon produced series, content from CBS and Paramount, as well as HBO shows. On the Hulu front, that service has signed a deal with digital video middleman Epix, whose catalog of films will leave Netflix in September. Netflix apparently isn't worried about that loss, and will spend that money on producing more original (and exclusive) shows.

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Google Play App Roundup: TUFFS Notification Shortcuts, Framed, and Lara Croft GO

Time once again to check in on what's new in the Play Store. This is the Google Play App Roundup where you can come every week to find out what's new and cool on Android. Just hit the links below to head right to the Play Store on your device.

TUFFS Notification Shortcuts

There are various ways to quickly access your apps on Android, but the notification shade is always just a swipe away. TUFFS Notification Shortcuts is a new app that lets you add custom shortcuts to the notification area, but unlike similar apps, it doesn't need a background service and won't take up space in the status bar or on the lock screen.

The TUFFS shortcuts will appear in a notification item directly below the system UI in your notification shade. There are five icons in a single row to start, but you can increase the number of icons, and even add a second row. Apps are probably the most likely use for this, but you can also drop in any shortcut supported by your apps or system. For example, contacts, Maps directions, Drive files, and so on.

By default, TUFFS shortcuts are hidden from the lock screen and status bar, which I think makes the most sense. This way it doesn't take up any space when it's not of use to you. Still, you can change that option if you want, but it means a status bar icon. There are actually plenty of settings to mess with. To make it blend in better with the system UI, you can change the icon framing (or shut it off), remove the labels, or even change the background color of the notification.

Launching apps and shortcuts from TUFFS seems to work exactly as you'd expect. It's just like having an icon on your home screen, but it's in the notification shade. If you're having trouble matching the exact color and style of your phone, check the themes out. The developer has helpfully included several pre-packaged themes that match stock Android, Samsung, HTC, and a few more.

The app is free to try, and most of the options are unlocked in this version. In the premium tier are a few themeing options, but most importantly, auto-start on reboot. There's an in-app purchase of $0.99 to permanently unlock all the features. If you like the idea of having shortcuts in your notifications, this is a pretty good way to do it.

Show and Tell: More Japanese Papercrafts

For this week's Show and Tell, Norm share some more papercraft kits found at Kinokuniya--a favorite bookstore located in San Francisco's Japantown. These diorama kits are simple to build, and some don't even require any scissors or glue for assembly. Let's take a look at them!

Building the Star Wars Rancor Costume, Part 4

In the fourth part of our Rancor costume build, Frank Ippolito walks us through the mold and casting process of the large Rancor head sculpt. We discuss ways to add texture and "skin" to the foam suit, and start painting the creature just one week before Comic-Con! Thanks for following along with the build--we'll be back next time with a debriefing of how the Rancor suit turned out. (Thanks to Model-Space.com for sponsoring this project!)