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Behind the Scenes with Tested at New York Comic Con 2017!

Join us for a brief look at what our New York Comic Con experience was like this year! From roaming the show floor chatting with cosplayers and geeking out over collectibles to backstage prep for incognito walks with Adam, here's a taste of Tested's convention life. Thanks to everyone who said hi at the show!

Science in Progress: Bloodsuckers and Butt Snorkels

Would the world be better if disease-carrying mosquitos were eradicated? We pose the question to Dr. Shannon Bennett, the Curator of Microbiology at the California Academy of Sciences, and join her for an adventure capturing, farming, and studying these hated bloodsuckers.

Oculus Connect 4 Chat with Nate Mitchell, Oculus' Head of Rift

Oculus Connect 4, Facebook's developer conference for VR, is wrapped, and we're still digesting all the information we learned and demo time with the Santa Cruz prototype we experienced during our visit. While Oculus didn't have anything to say about a follow-up to its flagship Rift headset, the announcements it made about standalone VR hardware left us with plenty of questions about the company's product strategy, state of technolgy R&D, and approach to the spectrum of virtual reality experiences on the path to getting a billion people into VR. We were able to ask some of those questions in our annual check-in with Oculus' Head of Rift Nate Mitchell--a lively and enlightening conversation that's a highlight of our Oculus Connect coverage. But policy changes this year prevented us from filming the interview, so we shared some takeaways in our event recap video. In reviewing our interview notes, several points stood out that we didn't convey or stress enough in our day-of recap, so we're sharing those here for clarification and posterity.

We started off asking about Oculus Go and the Santa Cruz prototype and how they fit in a future product lineup for Oculus. Nate talked a bit about how the feature set for Go was determined, and how it, along with Santa Cruz, are on a mobile product track that's separate from Rift. Said Nate, "As you can see with Project Santa Cruz, that may not be our only offering in the standalone product category. You can imagine over time, a good, better, or even a good, better, best approach. But sort of like the most affordable, best experience standalone device you can build, we think Go really competes right there."

Oculus was also coy about the hardware running Go, and its performance targets. For example, would Go offer the equivalent performance of a Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, or better? Nate would only say that it would be comparable: "You can just think of it roughly as equivalent to Gear VR. Roughly [Gear VR as it is shipping today]. I mean, we support a number of past generations of Gear VR today, but you can imagine it's on the same compute envelope as Gear VR."

"Not all of the hardware's locked down" was the reason given for not sharing information like the screen refresh rate on Go, though we suspect it'll be 60Hz like on Gear VR. Also unclear was whether the Android UI would be surfaced at all to users, or the interface when putting on the headset. "We are committed to making it an even better experience than Gear VR. Which is not a very high bar, but a really good experience. So we're doing a lot of neat stuff that we're excited about," said Nate.

The Orville's Krill Makeup Demo at KNB EFX

We visit award-winning makeup effects house KNB EFX, the shop where Howard Berger and his team designed the makeups for Seth MacFarlane's The Orville. Howard and key makeup artist Tami Lane give us a demo of the Krill makeup application they developed for the show, which makes it clear that The Orville's creators are big science fiction fans.

Google Play App Roundup: Microsoft Edge, Into the Dead 2, and KickAss Commandos

Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

Microsoft Edge

Internet Explorer was a staple of Microsoft Software for many years, but it was replaced by Edge with the release of Windows 10. With Microsoft focusing on other mobile platforms so much, it was only a matter of time until Edge branched out from the desktop, and now is that time. Edge is currently rolling out for iOS and Android, but these two versions are slightly different.

On Android, Edge is based on the Chromium project, which itself serves as the base for Google's Chrome. On the desktop, Microsoft has its own EdgeHTML engine, but that's not designed to operate on Android. The iOS version, meanwhile, uses Apple's WebKit engine as required by Apple's developer guidelines.

Chromium is open source, so Microsoft has been able to make ample changes to the way it looks and works. However, some of the basics are the same. Upon opening Edge, you get a search/URL bar at the top of the screen and some frequently accessed sites right below that. Scroll down further, and you have a feed of top news stories. This is similar to Chrome, but it's all tied to your Microsoft account.

You don't have to sign in with a Microsoft account to use Edge, but it adds to the experience. Down at the bottom of the screen is a "continue on PC" button. That sends your current page from the phone to one of your synced devices. However, this feature requires the new Fall Creators update on desktop, which is still rolling out. Your bookmarks, history, and reading list also sync across devices in Edge.

Pages load quickly in Edge, and it keeps multiple tabs in memory well. The navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen allow for quick access even on large devices. Speaking of larger devices, there's a dedicated tablet UI that moves some of the controls up to the top more like a traditional browser. If you want to access a site without saving it in your account, there's built-in private browsing mode, too.

Edge is still in beta, but it's a perfectly capable browser. If you're deeply tied into the Microsoft ecosystem, it's something to check out.

The Weird and Awesome World of Bootleg Art Toys

At a few pop culture conventions every year, DKE Toys brings designers and artists together to release a series of limited artist edition toys inspired by the blister pack action figures of our youth. Dov Kelemer chats with us about how the bootleg art toy scene got started and how each artist brings something different and subversive to their resin figures and packaging.

How The Pixel 2 Stacks Up Against The Best of Android

The first-generation Google Pixel phones had a lot to live up to after the Nexus program was discontinued. Android enthusiasts were not pleased, but the quality of the Pixel and Pixel XL won most of them over. In fact, the Pixels have been some of the best phones available for the last year. Now, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are about to launch, but are they still strong competitors with devices like the Galaxy S8 and V30 around? Let's see who these devices stack up.

The 2 New Pixel Phones from Google

Design refinements

Phones like the Galaxy S8 and G6 have shown just how far industrial design has come in the mobile arena. These phones have tiny bezels and big screens that fill almost all of the available surface area. Last year's Pixels looks rather old-fashioned by comparison. With the Pixel 2 XL, Google is stepping up its design game. The regular Pixel 2, not so much.

The Pixel 2 XL has a 6-inch 1440p display with a taller 18:9 aspect ratio. That means it fills the device frame better, and the bezels have been shrunken considerably. It looks vastly more modern than the OG Pixel XL. I dare say it's a beautiful device. The Pixel 2, meanwhile, has a 5-inch 1080p display and keeps the big top and bottom bezels from last year's phone. However, both devices have front-facing speakers. So, at least there's a little rationale for the large bezels on the Pixel 2. These phones are now water-resistant with an IP67 rating. That's good enough, but current phones from Samsung and LG have IP68 ratings for more protection.

Toyqube: Turning 2D Art into Sculpted Collectibles

We meet up with Keith Poon, artist and proprietor of Toyqube, a designer collectibles company that works with artists to turn their art into limited-run sculptures. Keith--known for his own Sharky vinyl figures--chats about the process of collaborating with artists and working in multiple mediums.

Building Adam's 2001: A Space Odyssey "Moonwatcher", Part 1

My passion for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey launched me into the quest of a career at the age of 16. I wanted to be a filmmaker. I wanted to make things for movies. I wanted to make space ships, creatures, props and more. I started learning everything I could about Kubrick and film making. I started making my own films and, eventually after graduating from school, I got a job at the American Zoetrope with Francis Coppola. George Lucas was there also and was working on the movie version of his short film, "THX11384eb". This was another film I loved that inspired me.

To make a long story short, in 1974 I moved to LA and started working for the studios as a special effects makeup artist. I met Rick Baker who helped me start my career as a creature maker and Gorilla man. My career exploded and for years I made creatures and makeup effects for films, TV commercials, and TV shows.

I worked on "Star Trek the Motion Picture" where I made Spock's ears, GhostBusters making creatures and puppeteering them just to name a couple. I made one feature motion picture with Charles Band, "The Day Time Ended" that I wrote and produced. I played an alien in the opening sequence of "Laser Blast" and did all the makeup and props. This lead to a SAG career of playing creatures for films along with my Gorilla suit work I did for many years.

This is just the short story but it all began with 2001, which brings me to this project: Moonwatcher.

I always wanted to make something from 2001. Most of the models have already been done. The helmets and suits by Mike Scott had been done (and they are amazing!). But no one had done Moonwatcher or the Star Child. So I set off to do both.

Adam reached out about the project asking me if he could get in the build. I said yes, of course. So let's get going here and I'll show you how I made Moonwatcher based on Stuart Freeborn's fantastic work 50 years ago.

PROJECTIONS, Episode 26: Oculus Connect 4, Santa Cruz Prototype Hands-On

Lots to talk about this week as Norm and Jeremy head to Oculus Connect 4! At this year's annual VR conference, Facebook announces two new standalone headsets and big updates to the Rift interface. We go hands-on with the Santa Cruz prototype and share our impressions, along with things we learned in an interview with Oculus' Nate Mitchell. (Apologies, we were not given permission to film our demo and interview.)