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    RC Indoor Rock Crawling with the ECX Temper

    I've talked about RC rock crawlers before, and I've also taken a look at small-scale indoor cars. This time around, I'll combine the two and also toss in a dash of FPV. Rock crawlers are especially good for indoor driving because you do not need a lot of space, nor do you have to worry about having a smooth, spotless floor. In fact, as driving surfaces go, the rougher, the better.

    The ECX Temper is a 1/24-scale rock crawler. It is about the same size as most plastic model car kits.

    ECX Temper

    The vehicle I chose is the Temper ($80), a ready-to-run model from ECX. This model is available in either 1/24 or 1/18 scale. I chose the 1/24-scale version, which is the same scale as most plastic car models. It is about 6.75" (171mm) long and 4" (102mm) wide.

    In many respects, this downsized crawler is just like my larger 1/10-scale machine (which is a lot like full-scale crawlers). It has full-time 4-wheel-drive, locked differentials, 4-link suspension, super-soft tires…all the stuff you would expect on a rock crawler. The only obvious difference is that the Temper uses friction dampers rather than oil-filled shocks.

    The radio receiver and ESC are integrated into a single unit.

    A 2.4GHz radio system is included. The transmitter looks smaller than most others, but it is a comfortable fit in my hand. It has servo reversing and adjustable control rates. It's a neat, compact piece. The receiver and ESC are combined into one unit aboard the car. Steering is handled by a tiny analog servo.

    Power comes from a 4-cell 150mAh NiMH battery. The battery is removable, so you can buy a few spares ($14) and not have to worry about down time. The included charger is a simple USB-powered device. To be honest, I haven't had much luck with it. I've tried powering the charger from a few different USB sources and it never seems to give the battery a full charge. I've reverted to using my Hitec X4-Eighty charger (huge overkill) with good success.

    Testing the Sony a6500 Camera for Photos and Video

    Tested producer Joey Fameli tests the Sony a6500 in his search for his next camera upgrade. Joey talks about how he uses small formfactor cameras for video production and how an interchangeable lens photography camera like the a6500 would fit into his workflow.

    Testing Autel Robotics' X-Star Premium Quadcopter

    Autel Robotics is a fairly new player in the world of aerial photography (AP) platforms. They currently offer two multi-rotors in their product line, the X-Star WiFi ($700) and X-Star Premium ($750). Both of these ships have a 350mm plastic airframe, brushless motors, and a 4K-capable camera. Power comes from a 4-cell 4900mAh LiPo battery. The whole thing is factory assembled. You only need to go through a few setup and calibration steps (and read the manual) to prepare for flight.

    This review covers the X-Star Premium. You can view a comparison chart for a summary of the differences between the two X-Star models. There are actually more similarities than variances. But there are two features found only on the premium model that make it the better value in my opinion.

    The X-Star Premium includes a hard-shell case that is useful for storage and transport of the quad and its accoutrements. The package comes with one battery, but there is room for a spare inside the case. If you use a tablet to view the video feed, that will also fit inside the case. If you've ever tried to individually schlep all of the gear necessary for an AP flight, then you know how much of a benefit a carrying case can be.

    The other factor that tips the scale for the premium model is the video downlink system. The X-Star Premium uses a 900MHz system that routes the signal to the quad's radio transmitter (which effectively makes it a transceiver…semantics). This signal then gets to your phone or tablet screen with Autel's Starlink app and a hard-wired USB connection. The X-Star WiFi uses a 2.4GHz WiFi signal directly to your device.

    I'll admit that I've never tested the video system on a standard X-Star. I have, however, flown numerous other AP multi-rotors that used WiFi-based video systems. I've had a few good experiences with WiFi video. Some systems, however, suffered from chronic connection problems and they all had some degree of signal latency. As far as I'm concerned, when there is a non-WiFi option, you should take it.

    Blade Inductrix Mini-Quad Gets You Started with Indoor FPV Flying

    At this time of year, winter weather forces many of us to scale back outdoor RC activities. But there is still plenty of fun to be had indoors, including multi-rotor FPV racing. Indoor FPV racing is becoming very popular for reasons that go beyond its weather advantages. Compared to outdoor FPV racers, these tiny indoor machines are less expensive and just as durable. It's also easy to set up a racing course right at home with just about anything you have on hand.

    Don't let the small size of the Inductrix FPV fool you. It is fast, maneuverable, and tough.

    The machine responsible for kickstarting the current indoor racing boom is called the Tiny Whoop. It is basically a Blade Inductrix mini quad with more powerful motors, an FPV camera, and video transmitter added on. The first generation of Tiny Whoops were basement-builds by industrious pilots. Now, Blade has released a new version of the Inductrix that includes the hop-ups necessary for indoor FPV racing, the Inductrix FPV.

    There are two versions of the Inductrix FPV. The Bind-N-Fly model ($100) includes the souped-up quad and a 200mAh LiPo flight battery. This is usually the preferred model for pilots who already own a Spektrum radio and FPV goggles. The Ready-to-Fly model ($200) adds a small transmitter as well as a 4.3" (109mm) video monitor. This package is for pilots who are starting from scratch. Horizon Hobby provided a Ready-to-Fly set for this review.

    The Equipment

    The Inductrix FPV is a small quad. It measures 64mm between diagonal motor shafts. Once you factor in the propeller shrouds, the diagonal dimension is just over 100mm. Those shrouds are very important aspects of the Inductrix's suitability for indoor FPV. Not only do they protect the props and whatever you crash into, the shrouds also act like cushions to soften the blow. I can't tell you how many times I've flown into something, only to have the quad bounce back in the other direction while still flying. It is probably the most crash-resistant indoor quad I've ever flown.

    The FPV camera and video transmitter are housed under a protective plastic shroud.

    The onboard FPV gear consists of a tiny camera with an integrated 25-milliwatt 5.8GHz video transmitter (VTX). An amateur radio license is required to legally operate this VTX in the US. This system can broadcast on 16 different channels, including the new Raceband frequencies. These components are housed within a protective plastic shell that screws to the quad frame.

    We Ditch Gas Stations and Go Full Electric with Chevy Bolt

    We ditch the gas station and go full electric with the Chevy Bolt, the new electric vehicle that just hit the roads. Our own Jeremy Williams picked up the Bolt as his first EV, and we go for a ride and test drive to learn about his experience driving it for a few weeks.

    Meet the Picobrew Home Beer Brewing Machine

    We check out the Picobrew system, a home beer brewing machine that lets you make 5 liter batches of beer in your own kitchen with an automated brewing system. We chat with Picobrew's co-founder about the process of home brewing and how users can make their own beer recipes.

    Hands-On: Ossic X VR Headphones

    We try on the Ossic X 3D headphones, which were designed for use with virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive. Chatting with an Ossic rep, we learn how these headphones could be used to enhance both VR and music listening experiences.

    Quick Look at Dell's 8K Desktop Monitor

    Here's a really quick look at Dell's 32-inch 8K desktop monitor. It's difficult to do the screen resolution justice in a video, but here's how tiny Windows' Start Menu looks at 100% desktop scaling on this $5000 display!

    Hands-On: TPCast Wireless VR for HTC Vive

    We go hands-on with TPCast, the wireless upgrade accessory for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. Here are our early impressions, along with insight learned about the device's wireless range, ergonomics, and expected battery life from TPCast's co-founder. This might have been our favorite thing at CES 2017!

    Hands-On: HTC Vive Tracker and Deluxe Audio Strap

    We go hands-on with HTC's new Vive Tracker, which allows developers to make positionally-tracked wireless accessories for Virtual Reality. We test tracked rifles, baseball bats, and even a firehose. Plus, we put on HTC's new Deluxe Audio Strap, which makes the Vive much more comfortable to wear.

    Tested: Tactic Wrist Monitor for FPV Systems

    I love interesting gadgets and the Tactic FPV Wrist Monitor ($50) certainly qualifies. It looks like a smart watch, or maybe something Dick Tracy would wear. When you flip out the folding antenna, it's easy to imagine that you're a high-tech spy sending an urgent status update to your secret underground headquarters. The actual functionality of the wrist monitor isn't so clandestine. Its primary function is to receive and display video signals from RC models with a FPV system.

    The Tactic FPV Wrist Monitor integrates a 2" screen and 5.8GHz receiver into a tiny wearable package. What applications can you think of?

    What It Is

    The heart of the wrist monitor is a 2" (51mm) LCD screen. It displays in full color with a resolution of 480x240. Overall dimensions of the monitor housing are 2.2" x 1.9" x .5" (56 x 49 x 12mm). Weight with the wrist band is 2.2 ounces (61.5g).

    The unit has an integrated 5.8GHz receiver with the aforementioned folding antenna. Most FPV activities currently use 5.8GHz signals, so there are plenty of compatible video transmitters available. The receiver can pick up 32 different channels divided among 4 bands (A, B, E, and F). A button on the side of the monitor allows you to choose your desired band and channel. There is no provision to input a wired video signal. Nor can you record or export the receiver's feed.

    Its primary function is to receive and display video signals from RC models with a FPV system.

    A built-in 300mAh LiPo battery provides power for the monitor. A full charge will provide about an hour of operation. Unfortunately, there is no battery status indicator anywhere. You'll know the battery is dead when the monitor shuts itself off. The battery is charged via a micro-USB port.

    The included wrist band is a simple rubber unit with a metal buckle. Like the footprint of the monitor itself, the band is wide and beefy. The band is obviously sized for larger wrists. I think I'm an average guy I use one of the smallest settings on the band. Anyone with smaller wrists may have trouble getting a comfortable fit. Even if you poke extra holes in the band, the girth of the monitor could become a factor at some point.

    Razer's "Project Valerie" 3-Screen Gaming Laptop Prototype

    We check out Razer's Project Valerie, a concept gaming laptop that has three 17-inch 4K screens built into its chassis. Running an Nvidia GTX 1080, we see Battlefield One running across all three displays and chat with Razer about why they built this insane prototype.

    Tested: Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera

    Our video producer Joey tests and reviews the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how he's used this small formfactor camera for a variety of Tested shoots, and its post-production workflow. Here's how we used the BMMCC for timelapses, mounting in vehicles, and even on extended trips abroad.

    Tested: DJI Phantom 4 Pro Quadcopter Drone

    Less than a year after releasing the Phantom 4, DJI has unveiled the Phantom 4 Professional quadcopter. We test and review this new drone, which is equipped with a new 4K camera system, environment sensors on five sides, and a controller with built-in display. Here's why we think the Phantom 4 Pro is the true successor to the Phantom 3, and the best consumer drone on the market.

    Tested: HP Omen 17 Gaming Laptop

    We've been testing the HP Omen 17, the first laptop we've tested running on Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070--a full powered Pascal GPU. That means this is truly a desktop replacement: a portable powerhouse that can run full roomscale virtual reality off of just one AC power outlet. But there are some tradeoffs that allow this fast gaming PC to be priced at just $1500.

    Tested: Oculus Touch VR Controller

    They're finally here! Norm and Jeremy test and review the Oculus Touch virtual reality controllers, which bring motion-tracked hand presence to the Oculus Rift VR headset. Here's how Touch compares with the Vive and PSVR controllers in tracking, features, and ergonomics. Plus, we discuss the launch lineup of games and Touch content.

    Hands-On with the Glowforge Laser Cutter!

    It's finally here! We have a pre-release model of the Glowforge laser cutter in our office to test, and have been running it through its paces. Adam and Norm show off its features and run through a few test cuts, including tracing one of Adam's drawings. Let us know what questions you have about the Glowforge in the comments!

    Tested: Microsoft Surface Studio Review

    We test and review Microsoft's new Surface Studio all-in-one PC, putting it front of cartoonists and graphic designers to see how the 28-inch touchscreen compares with digitizers like Wacom's Cintiq. Here's what we think about the Surface Studio's display, compact computer hardware, and unique hinge that connects them.