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    Hands-on with Sony's $1100 Walkman NW-ZX2

    Sony recently unveiled a new Walkman music player, which plays what they call "high resolution" audio. The noisy booth at CES probably wasn't the best place to demo this $1100 player, but we try it out and ask a Sony rep just why they think audiophiles should buy in to Sony's new music playback ecosystem. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    Hands-On: ImmersionRC's Vortex Racing Quadcopter

    We've shown you how to build your own racing quadcopter, but here's a ready-to-fly kit that can get you flying sooner. We chat with ImmersionRC about their upcoming Vortex 250mm quad, which was designed with FPV flying in mind. It comes bundled with all the essential components pre-installed and integrated--all you need is a transmitter and video goggles. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Hubsan's Ora X4 Pro Quadcopter

    At CES 2015, we check out the Ora X4 Pro, a ready-to-fly quadcopter with optional gimbaled camera. Ora is made by Hubsan, who we're familiar with as the makers of our favorite entry-level nano quads. The Ora tries to stand out from other RTF quads with a large transmitter (with built-in FPV display) and a parachuting mechanism. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    Why I’m Excited About Windows Holographic

    My absolute favorite part of covering technology for Tested are those rare glimpses of the future. I’m talking about the first hints of a new technology that has a chance to change the world. That's why we started experimenting with 3D printers and tablets shortly after we launched Tested in 2010. That's why we were among the first people to get excited about the latest wave of virtual reality and the rise of cheap multi-rotors. It's why we're investigating potentially revolutionary last-mile travel solutions, like the Boosted Board and Rocket Skates. To me, technology is most interesting when it's brand new, before designers have chamfered the rough edges and the revolutionary leaps have made way for incremental improvements. I love it when I look at a tech demo and can still see the path that led to the creation of a new product or even a new category.

    Each of the example technologies that I mentioned above was the result of multiple advancements being assembled by visionaries at the right time. The decreased cost of LCD screens, flash memory, and high capacity, low-volume batteries made modern smartphones possible. The popularity of smartphones caused the price of the components found within them--solid state accelerometers and gyroscopes, LCD displays, and processors--to drop until technologies like VR suddenly became possible at much lower prices than we ever imagined. Likewise, the rise of low-cost, high-power microcontrollers (Arduino boards and their ilk), combined with inexpensive motors and radios and cheap manufacturing in China caused revolutions in multirotor aircraft and 3D printing.

    These categories are all transforming from hyper-expensive products designed to serve tiny niche markets into mainstream consumer electronics. The people responsible for these innovations have one thing in common. They were able to see the pieces necessary and assemble them into workable products before anyone else saw the same potential. This is what Palmer Luckey did for VR with the early Oculus prototypes and what the originators of the Reprap project did for consumer 3D printing.

    This brings us to Microsoft's Windows Holographic, which Microsoft demoed at a Windows 10 event yesterday. Despite its wildly misleading name (from what I can tell Holographic doesn't use holograms at all), Microsoft's demo showed augmented reality, seemingly working in the real world, with fewer caveats than anything we've seen before.

    If you aren't familiar with AR, it's similar to virtual reality in that it displays information from a computer over your full field of vision. However, where VR is an isolated experience, you put the goggles on and they block your view of the outside world, AR overlays that information on the environment your in. Put another way, VR replaces the world around you, AR enhances it.

    The Camera Gear I Use to Shoot Tested's Videos

    This is part of a three-part behind-the-scenes series on Lighting, Shooting, and Editing for Tested.

    The first camera I ever worked with professionally was the Panasonic HVX-170. It was handed to me, while working as a videographer on a tour bus with a band. I was given the camera, and the user manual, and had to start shooting almost immediately. The camera was easy to learn, in part because during the early 2000's this ENG (electronic news gathering), 3CCD style camcorder became very popular with young filmmakers and students. The cameras were relatively inexpensive, and produced good quality 720p HD footage. More importantly, they also gave the operator all the manual knobs, dials, and buttons they needed, right behind a versatile stock 2-3 ring zoom lens.

    During this period, accessibility of high quality cameras, and editing software coming down in price, meant it was much easier for almost anyone to get there hands on these tools to practice and learn. Many of professionals in video production learned on these kinds of cameras. I was one of these guys. I owned the Canon XHA1 -- a camera I purchased with a portion of my college student loans -- and I spent countless hours cutting my teeth on this thing. When I was given the Panasonic HVX-170, my familiarity of the camera translated over--ENG style cameras were good for that. They were all different in their own way, each had their own nuances, but the form factor and menu control became somewhat universal for that prosumer market. Once you've learned one of these cameras, you felt like you knew, technically, how to operate all of them.

    When I got the job at Whiskey Media (the former home of Tested), our studio was equipped with four of those same Panasonics. Every video you've seen from those days were all shot with these cameras. They gave us good 720p quality video and had SDI outputs to push a video feed for Tricaster live mixing. They recorded to reusable SSD flash media, and produced videos in the DVCProHD codec which was super friendly with Final Cut Pro 7. And, they were lightweight, making all day convention shooting a little more tolerable.

    This is, however, a digital camera that is now about seven years old. The codec is starting to show its age when compared to more recent cameras, and as people clammer for higher resolution video, native 720p might seem a little dated (and before you ask, no, I have no intention of introducing a 4k workflow into our studio. 1080p seems like a good resolution to work with on the web).

    As our video content pushed us out on the road a bit more, to unpredictable locations, with no chance of bringing much supplies or lights (or have the man power to lug that gear), I started looking into other cameras. A camera where I can change lenses to match the style. A camera that would allow me to dial in a higher ASA without introducing too much noise. Something that can handle both low light and have a big enough dynamic range that I don't lose information in light and dark spots, and something with a codec that ins't highly compressed--something that I can take into post and dial in correction setting with out pulling forward all those compression artifacts. It also needed to be ergonomically friendly--something I can hold all day long, with audio recording built in, and enough shoe mounts to hold my wireless kits.

    I have my eyes on a camera in particular, but the timing's not right on that big ticket purchase. Some day, I hope.

    Last year I searched for something that was more in our price range and what I found was the relatively inexpensive Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera. DSLR-like in its form factor, this is not something that I was initially comfortable with. I've used shoulder cams up until now, and putting a brick of a camera on some rods, hooked to all sorts of external devices, kind of intimidated me. However, the features (lean, but effective) on this camera kind of excited me, and it was something I felt I needed to try out, as the climate of prosumer cameras continue to change. Here's how I built out our current Blackmagic rig.

    CES 2015: Quadcopter Combat with "Game of Drones"

    Will and Norm battle in the desert with quadcopters--or at least do their best--at a Game of Drones event during CES. We learn about the rules of safe quadcopter combat and chat with Game of Drones' founder to discuss the reasons for building a more durable quadcopter airframe. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Parrot's eXom Aerial Mapping Quadcopter

    In the quadcopter space, Parrot may be best known for its AR.Drone and mini quads, but they're also behind two initiatives to use unmanned vehicles for aerial mapping. SenseFly and Pix4D are two departments making those vehicles and the 3D mapping software, and we learn about their latest quad at this year's CES. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Hands-On with the Avegant Glyph Prototype

    Head-mounted displays have received a lot of attention for their potential use as virtual reality devices, but most are still LCD or OLED panels strapped to your head. We saw Avegant's "virtual retinal display" prototype last year--a HMD that uses DLP mirrors to project images directly into your eyes. Checking in with Avegant at CES, we look at their latest prototype chat with them about their final product plans. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Test Riding the Acton RocketSkates

    Here's something we didn't expect to test at CES. Acton's RocketSkates was a Kickstarted invention to put electric motorized wheels on your shoes. Will puts on a pair of these futuristic skates to try to learn how to move around in them, and then chats with its inventor to learn how this idea came about. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Razer Forge TV and Turret for Couch Gaming

    Had enough of set top boxes for your living room setup yet? We're going to see a bunch of Android TV devices this year, including Razer's Forge TV box. We chat with Razer's reps about what Forge TV can do, how it streams PC games, and what the gaming company thinks will solve the challenge of mouse and keyboard use on the couch. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Ultimaker 2 Family of 3D Printers

    It's awesome to see how far 3D printer makers have come since the days of laser-cut wood kits. We check in with Ultimaker at CES 2015 to learn about their new family of 3D printers, the Ultimaker 2 series. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    Teaser: Sculpting Lessons with Frank Ippolito!

    Here's a preview for a new video series we're starting on Tested! In a weeks time, effects artist Frank Ippolito will guide Will and Norm through the beginnings of clay sculpting. We've included links below to materials so you can follow along--the first video will be available for everyone and the rest for Tested Premium Members. To watch the whole series, sign up for a Tested premium membership here. (Supplies listed in the comments below).

    CES 2015: Hands-On with Sony's SmartEyeGlass Prototype

    Google Glass may no longer be available to buy, but Sony is working on an augmented reality accessory that may have similar features. We get to put on the SmartEyeGlass Attach prototype at this year's CES, at least to see how its display looks over your field of view. Too bad the representative that we were allowed to speak to on camera wasn't able to give us many concrete details...(This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: Test Riding the InMotion Electric Unicycle

    One of the weirder pieces of tech we saw at CES was a gyroscopically balanced electric unicycle. We were allowed to test the InMotion v3 unicycle out, but had to be able to get on it first. The entire tested team made their attempts... (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    CES 2015: FPV Racing with Phantom 2 Quadcopters

    While at CES, Will and Norm attend a quadcopter showcase event at a closed off outdoor range just outside Las Vegas. We put on FPV goggles and race a pair of DJI Phantom 2 quads! They're not quite as fast or maneuverable as custom built multi-rotors, but they're still thrilling to race. Who's going to win? (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!) Photo credit: Eric Cheng

    CES 2015: Hands-On with Razer's OSVR Hacker Dev Kit

    We put on Razer's OSVR prototype, a headset that's part of an open-source initiative to promote virtual reality for PC gaming. Think of it as Android for VR, where not one company controls all the hardware and software. Will and Norm discuss what they learned about OSVR from chatting with Razer's representatives, and share their impressions on the hacker dev kit demo. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    Awesome Jobs: Meet Chris Buddle, Arachnologist

    Chris Buddle spends a lot of his time crawling around on his hands and knees in the high arctic. He’s one of the world’s very few experts on the eight-legged creepy crawlies that send a shiver up the spine of most folks. Buddle is an arachnologist and an associate professor of forest insect ecology at McGill University. And he loves spiders. He chatted with us about how the heck he goes about finding teeny tiny animals scuttling around the northern Tundra and why spiders aren’t scary, they’re absolutely fascinating.

    Why study spiders?

    They’re predators almost entirely within their own food web. They have a significant impact on whatever system they’re in. Whether they run down beaches as tides go out and catch invertebrates or live in the high tundra. No matter where they are, they are always eating other things and sometimes each other. They’re always eating. They have an impact on other animals around them.

    They also have very interesting applications as pest control agents. Think of how many pests they eat -- mosquitoes around our houses or crop pests -- they have an impact on pest species.

    They have all kinds of uses in the biomedical field. The silk they produce has interesting properties, people use it in the wound care industry as bandages and they use biophysical properties as a model for the development of new fabrics or ropes.

    The other thing is that they feed all kinds of other animals. In the high arctic a lot of birds, and when they first arrive to breed, after the snow and ice starts to melt the first thing they encounter as food is spiders.

    Do we have any idea how many spiders there are in the world?

    We don’t know the number in the world but I’ve done the calculation in individual habitats. It’s true that you’re almost always close to a spider. Density estimates in the arctic show there’s half a spider per meter squared. That’s 4,000 wolf spiders per hectare [about 2.5 acres]. It’s a lot. And that’s just one system. There’s a lot of spiders out there wandering around. So everyone should be an arachnologist!

    CES 2015: MarkForged 3D Printer Prints Carbon Fiber

    One of the things that keeps 3D prints from being useful in everyday applications is the structural instability of the plastic print material--it either bends or snaps under load. MarkForged makes a 3D printer that does something new: it can reinforce printed parts with carbon fiber or fiberglass for rigidity and strength. We chat with MarkForged's CEO about how this print process works test some of its prints. (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)

    8 Interesting Things We Missed at CES 2015

    We saw a lot of cool stuff at this year's CES, and our videos from the floor are still being edited to roll out on the site over the next week and a half. In addition to our featured Oculus VR demo and interview, we raced quadcopters, checked out Razer's OSVR dev kit, and even listened to Sony's new $1100 Walkman. But we couldn't cover everything being shown at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and there were definitely interesting pieces of technology that we let slip through the cracks. Meetings held offsite or products hidden away behind closed doors and even in plain sight--it's fun to read through all the coverage after the fact to see what we would've wanted to check out. Wirecutter, Arstechnica, The Verge, and many other sites reported on tech that I really would've loved to have seen--prototypes shown in public for the first time and some devices actually shipping soon. Here's the most interesting of those products.

    LG's WebOS Smartwatch

    CES had an entire pavilion devoted to wearables and health trackers, but the most surprising smartwatch that showed up was actually an unannounced device being worn at the Audi booth. Android Central was the first to spot it: the LG/Audi smartwatch collaboration that eschews Android Wear for WebOS. Yep, WebOS, the smartphone platform developed by Palm and HP before going open-source in 2012. LG bought the proprietary bits a while later and is now apparently adapting it for watch software. The watch looks like LG's G Watch R, with a circular display surrounded by a metal bezel, and the prototype's UI is apparently visually distinct from Android Wear. LG and Audi have refused to acknowledge that the watch is actually running WebOS, but I'm intrigued.

    CES 2015: DJI Inspire 1 Mount Handheld Gimbal Camera

    Quadcopter maker DJI loaned us a prototype of their upcoming Inspire 1 Mount--an accessory for the gimbaled camera that comes with their latest quad. We take the mount and camera to roam the floor at CES, testing the stability and video quality of this camera setup. The results were pretty good! (This video was shot with a Sony PXW-X70 camera, which we're testing. Thanks to B&H for providing us with gear for CES!)