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Adam Savage's King Arthur Armor Build: Epilogue

Adam puts on the full King Arthur armor and visits a local tavern in this short film directed by Terry English! Adam's dream is realized! Thanks so much for following along this build with us. If you want to see more build series like this, let us know in the comments!

Google Play App Roundup: Underburn, Turretz: Planetz, and Reigns: Her Majesty

I don't know if you could say there are too many apps out there, but there are certainly enough that it can be hard to find the ones worth your time. This is the problem that Google Play App Roundup is seeking to solve. Every week we tell you about the best new and newly updated apps in the Play Store. Just click the app name to head right to the Play Store and check things out for yourself.

Underburn

Smartphones have allowed billions of people to access the whole of human knowledge at any moment, communicate openly in the blink of an eye, and avoid going to sleep as they stare at the warm glow of the internet in their hand. On that last count, screen brightness is a constant issue. Even when you think you've set a nice dark theme on your device, something bright can pop up and scorch your retinas. No more with Underburn. This app monitors the colors displayed on your screen and intelligently modifies the brightness to save your eyes from the light.

To make this work, Underburn does need to ask for some rather serious permissions. It needs access to your system settings and the ability to record your screen. It'll ask for the screen permission every time you start it, though. It's not just going to start watching you in the background, and the developer removed the internet access permission to further put your mind at peace.

The reason Underburn needs this sort of access is that it's actually taking a screenshot every quarter of a second. Those images are checked to see how many bright colors are displayed. When it seems the content getting brighter, Underburn lowers the brightness of your screen to compensate. I haven't noticed any performance impacts from running Underburn in the background, but you might want to watch carefully if your phone is already a bit slow. This could make it worse.

This app makes the most sense when you're using a dark system UI or app theme. Then, whenever an image or message appears that's mostly white, the screen dims to save your eyes. I also find it very useful for checking the notifications, which are much lighter than most of the apps I'm using.

Underburn takes a fraction of a second to adjust the brightness, and there's an optional floating button that can tweak the brightness setting. Before you activate Underburn, you can also change what the light and dark cutoffs are, as well as how much it will adjust the brightness in automatic mode. It does require a persistent notification, but that makes sense considering the nature of the app. I also like that you can plug Underburn into Tasker for full automation.

Underburn is $1.49 in the Play Store, but it solves a common problem. You might not even realize you had this problem until Underburn solves it for you.

PROJECTIONS, Episode 33: Rift Core 2.0 + Front Defense: Heroes!

We review Oculus' overhaul of their VR user interface, which was launched this week in beta. To learn more about the development and future of Rift Core 2.0, we visit Oculus' headquarters to chat with project manager Brandon Dillon and Nate Mitchell about this latest version of the Oculus platform. Plus, Jeremy and Norm play the 5v5 shooter Front Defense: Heroes on Vive.

The Best Unlocked and Carrier Android Smartphone (December 2017)

Most of us aren't running out to buy a new phone every time something new comes out. Thus, it's important to make the right call when the time to upgrade comes around. You'll probably have to live with that phone for at least a year or two, so making the wrong call will lead to plenty of frustration. There are plenty of choices, but we've got you covered. Samsung is still offering some great devices on all the major carriers, and Google has a new generation of Pixel phones. At the same time, OnePlus has refreshed its flagship phone yet again. Let's break it all down.

Carrier phones: Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note 8

If you want to get a phone directly from your carrier, Samsung's high-end phones are probably your best bet. If you're looking for something a on the less expensive end, there are a lot of extremely compelling deals on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. If price is no object, the Galaxy Note 8 is an even better phone.

One of the main selling points for Samsung phones is the display, which cannot be beaten. The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch curved display, whereas the Plus has a 6.2-inch curved panel. These screens are taller than old 16:9 panels with a resolution of 1440 x 2960. They're crisp, bright, and have fantastic colors. LG's OLEDs aren't bad, but the V30 just can't compare in the screen department, and it's priced as even higher than Samsung's phones. That's disqualifying in my eyes.

I'm not personally a fan of glass phones, but that seems to be the trend lately. The GS8 is comfortable to use with the symmetrically curved front and back glass. It fits nicely in the hand, but it's slippery. If you drop it, the curved glass is vulnerable to breakage. Broken Galaxy S8s are apparently common, so a case is a good idea.

The larger display on these phones meant Samsung had to ditch the physical nav buttons, which I'm quite happy about. The on-screen buttons can be reorganized to display in the right order. The home button is also pressure-sensitive. Hard-pressing on that area of the screen will always trigger the button, even if the phone is asleep. However, I'm not happy with the location of the fingerprint sensor (previously in the physical home button). It's on the back way up next to the camera. Even when you find the sensor after fumbling around and smudging your camera lens, it's not very accurate. A cheap phones like the Moto G5 Plus or OnePlus 5T have better sensors than this.

Let's Build: Estes Rocket, Part 6

Joey and Drew's model rocket finds new life on a trip to the desert! Ryan steps in to help with this build and see if the Estes rockets can achieve a successful blast off!

Adam Savage's LEGO Han Solo Blaster!

Adam adds to his LEGO-themed armory with this replica of Han Solo's DL-44 blaster, built entirely of LEGO bricks. We found these fan-designed kits online, and talk through the build to show some of the clever ways the pieces are assembled to resemble the parts of the iconic Star Wars blaster.

Building a Studio Scale Model of the Escape Pod from Star War: A New Hope

The shot of an Escape Pod dropping away from the crippled Rebel Blockade Runner during the opening sequence of Star Wars: A New Hope has always been a favorite of mine. The imagery is perfection in its simplicity. Reminiscent of a NASA film of booster separation on the Saturn V rocket, this iconic moment conveys an important story point with images that are both new and familiar.

Image credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

This shot was also a historic one as it was the first visual effect completed by the fledgling Industrial Light and Magic team. The story is that executives from 20th Century Fox were growing increasingly concerned over the amount of time and money being spent on the unproven visual effects department which had so far failed to deliver any footage. Fox threatened to shut them down if they couldn't show some progress.

Led by visual effects supervisor John Dykstra, model shop supervisor Grant McCune and visual effects cameraman Richard Edlund, the ILM crew hurriedly assembled the model of the Escape Pod, suspended it from the ceiling of the stage over a plain black backing below and filmed it dropping away from the camera in slow motion. A few flakes of mica were tossed in to recreate the look of ice crystal sparkles seen in the NASA footage and a classic film moment was born. The shot was what is referred to as being done "in-camera", no motion control, no composites, just shoot it and done! The execs at Fox must have liked what they saw because the rest is history!

I've recreated a model of the Escape Pod in what is known as Studio Scale, the same size as the original filming model and using parts from the same vintage model kits for the detailing.

Tested at the BALLS 2017 Rocket Launch Event!

Simone heads to Black Rock Desert to take part in the annual BALLS experimental rocket launch event! We meet with amateur rocketeers who've come around the country to test their homebrewed rockets. This is going to be fun! Thanks to Clay Reynolds for inviting us out! Find his rocket launch videos here.

Launching Simone's Rocket--It Might Work!

Simone and the team drive out to Nevada to participate in the annual Balls hobbyist rocket event! To join in on the fun, Simone has to first build her own rocket to launch. The countdown to blast off begins! (Thanks so much to Clay Reynolds who helped us with this project! Find his rocket launch videos here.)