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    Testing: The LG G5 Android Smartphone

    LG has been chasing its hometown rival Samsung in the Android ecosystem for years now, but it's never managed to beat Samsung. The LG G5 is LG's attempt to address concerns about its materials and design while also keeping the features that set it apart from other Android OEMs. The G5 has an aluminum frame, whereas past phones were plastic. At the same time, it keeps the removable battery and adds a system of modular accessories. Is this enough to make for a compelling flagship phone?

    I've been using the G5 for a few weeks, so let's see how it stacks up to the competition.

    Design and Display

    The G5 is an aluminum phone, which is a big deal for LG. In the past, it has been criticized for sticking with plastic materials while its competition used more impressive metal and glass designs. However, the way LG is using aluminum is probably not the way you would have expected. In fact, there's been a lot of argument about this on the internet.

    So here's the deal: the G5 is a metal phone, but it doesn't feel like one. There's a thick layer of synthetic polymer primer on top of the metal that hides the antennas on the back panel. Most metal phones have those plastic lines across the back (think iPhone), but LG decided it wanted to hide those. The solution seems bizarre to me because part of the appeal of a metal phone is that it feels like metal. The upshot of all this is the smooth back (if you like that), and a more rigid frame that allows for the unique battery system (more on that shortly).

    Also on the back is the power button with built-in fingerprint sensor. The volume rocker has, sadly, moved back to the side of the phone. I quite liked it on the back with previous LG phones. The fingerprint sensor works well enough, but it's not as good as the ones from Google, Samsung, and HTC.

    On the bottom is the mono speaker, which is fine, and the new USB 3.0 Type-C port. The Type-C port will mean ditching all your old cables, but this is the standard of the future. Best we all just get with the program. The addition of Quick Charge 3.0 is nice as well.

    LG has again gone with a 2560x1440 resolution LCD—it was the first mainstream OEM to do that with the LG G3 two years ago. The G4 was an improvement over that phone, and the G5 improves even further. The colors are solid and accurate without any of the blown out reds of some LCDs that are trying to emulate AMOLED. With the high resolution, this 5.3-inch panel is very dense and produces crisp images. The outdoor brightness is impressive as well. Some people are noticing some backlight bleed, but I haven't seen that one my unit.

    Tested: DJI Phantom 4 Review

    After flying DJI's Phantom 4 quadcopter for a month, we share our evaluations of this new drone's ambitious features: the new obstacle avoidance system, active subject tracking, sport mode, and increased battery life. Here's why we think you're better off buying last year's Phantom 3 model.

    Tested: Eero Wi-Fi Router and Extender

    We test a new router system that attempts to eliminate the worry of Wi-Fi dead spots by building a mesh network of hotspots that work together as one seamless wireless network. The Eero does what it promises, but may be too simple for power users who need to heavily configure their network settings.

    Tested: Blade Mach 25 FPV Racing Quad

    At this time last year, it looked like 250mm quads would be the dominant airframes used for multi-rotor FPV racing. Now we're seeing lots of smaller, lighter designs in competition. But don't throw out your 250mm racer just yet. They're still popular, fast, and fun.

    My first 250-class racing quad was built with parts sourced from several different vendors. I'm dealing with a prebuilt model this time around, the Blade Mach 25 ($350). The Mach 25 is a Bind-N-Fly-Basic model. This means that it includes everything except a radio transmitter (the receiver is compatible with Spektrum brand radios) and FPV goggles (or monitor).


    The Mach 25 is certainly different from the mainstream. Its most obvious unique feature is the painted polycarbonate shell with Speed Racer-inspired styling. The body is held in place with rubber grommets that fit over posts attached to the frame. It's a simple yet secure system

    Another unique feature of the Mach 25 is the integrated FPV camera and 5.8GHz video transmitter (VTX). This tiny device is mounted to a vibration-damped plate near the front of the quad. Even though the VTX only transmits at 25 milliwatts of power, an amateur radio license is required to operate it.

    The Blade Mach 25 is a prebuilt quad racer with a unique appearance and some interesting features.

    The main frame is built with 2mm carbon fiber plates, while the motor arms are aluminum tubes. These tubes are held in place with aluminum clamps that are also spacers for the plates. The motors are tilted forward at a 10-degree angle. One of my motors had a visibly different tilt angle than the others. I loosened the relevant clamp and twisted the tube to get it aligned.

    Tested: Amazon Echo Dot Review

    One of our favorite devices from last year was Amazon's Echo, a Bluetooth speaker with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant. At half the price of the Echo, the Dot offers the best of Alexa at a fraction of the size and cost. Here's why we think this is an essential gadget if you have connected hubs like Nest, SmartThings, or Hue.

    Tested: HTC Vive Review

    The consumer release of the HTC Vive is finally here! We've been testing the Vive Pre for a while and the final headset for about a week, playing VR games with tracked controllers in a roomscale setup. Jeremy and Norm discuss the setup process, ergonomics, comfort features, and launch content for Steam VR. Plus, we play through Valve's first-party VR game, The Lab!

    Show and Tell: Radian 2 Time-Lapse Motion Controller

    For this week's Show and Tell, we revisit some trusted time-lapse gear we've been using in recent months, which has been useful for documenting Adam's cave builds. The Triggertrap is a simple remote shutter programmed and activated by a smartphone app, and the Radian 2 is still our favorite rotating intervalometer for DSLRs.

    Let's Play VR: ADR1FT, VR Tennis Online, Airmech, EVE: Valkyrie

    Ahead of reviewing the Oculus Rift, we invited Will and Jeremy to the office to play some launch games. They brought along their Kickstarter Rifts as well, so we were able to do some multiplayer testing! Here are some brief demos of ADR1FT, VR Tennis Online, AirMech, and EVE: Valkyrie. We'll be doing more comprehensive VR game demos in the future!

    Tested: Oculus Rift Review

    It's finally here! We've been testing the consumer version of the Oculus Rift for the past week, and share our thoughts and impressions of the final hardware and launch software. Norm and Jeremy discuss the most frequently asked questions about the ergonomics, display, screen door effect, tracking range, and how gamepad virtual reality games hold up. The new age of VR begins!

    Behind the Scenes: How We Light Our Videos!

    Tested producers Joey and Adam Isaak give you a behind-the-scenes look at our lighting setup in the Tested studio and on location. Here's how our videos are lit using a combination of fluorescent, tungsten, and LED sources. Plus, Joey and Adam discuss the Fotodiox Pro FlapJack, a new bi-color studio light that we've been liking a lot!

    Show and Tell: Haptic Lab Sailing Ship Kite

    This week's show and tell is an awesome kit made by design firm Haptic Lab. It's a kite in the form of a majestic ship! We put together this flying dutchman and take it out for a flight. But the wind around the bay may not cooperate...

    Hands-On: ADR1FT for Oculus Rift

    One of the most interesting launch games for the Oculus Rift is ADR1FT, a first-person narrative experience that puts you in a spacesuit floating through the wreckage of a futuristic space station. We play a bit of the game, discuss its EVA mechanics, and chat with developer Adam Orth about immersive storytelling in VR.

    Hands-On: Eagle Flight Multiplayer VR on Oculus Rift

    Flying in virtual reality is a tricky thing to get right--too much acceleration or unexpected movement can make users nauseous. Ubisoft thinks it's solved VR flying with Eagle Flight, which lets us soar over Paris and take on other players in bird vs. bird combat! Here are our impressions!

    Hands-On: Raw Data Combat in the HTC Vive!

    With the tracked controllers of the HTC Vive, game developers can give users a sense of "hand presence"--the feeling that their hands and actions are actually in the game. Body presence is more challenging, but it's something developer Survios is taking on in their multiplayer VR action game Raw Data. We play a round of Raw Data, learn about how body presence augments the action, and give our impressions.

    Hands-On: Chronos Adventure-RPG for Oculus Rift

    One of our favorite Gear VR games was Herobound, which played like Zelda in virtual reality. Its developers' next game is Chronos, an adventure-RPG for Oculus Rift. We play a bit of Chronos, share our impressions, and discuss why it's a game we could play for a long time in a VR headset.

    HTC Vive Final Hardware and Valve's The Lab Impressions

    We check in with Valve at this year's Game Developer Conference to get up close with the final HTC Vive headset and play Valve's upcoming SteamVR demo: The Lab. Here's our interview with one of Valve's content developers, and our impressions of a few of The Lab's roomscale VR experiments. (Valve did not allow us to film the screen as part of the demo.)

    Tested: Avegant Glyph Personal Theater Headset

    Norm reviews the Avegant Glyph, a headset that uses tiny DLP projectors to put a personal video theater on your face. It's not a virtual reality headset, but has sensors for head-tracking for 3D and 360-degree video from your phone. But the best use of it may be with camera-equipped quadcopters.

    Let's Play VR: 6 HTC Vive Pre Demos!

    We have an HTC Vive Pre in the office! Jeremy and Norm show off the capabilities of this virtual reality headset by playtesting six roomscale SteamVR demos: Surgeon Simulator, Maximum VR, Waltz of the Wizard, Mod Box, Budget Cuts, and Hover Junkers. This is why VR is going to be awesome!