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    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.

    E-flite Sukhoi Su-29MM: An RC Aerobat With A Safety Net

    I've previously reviewed several models that were equipped with artificial stabilization systems. While there were differences in how each of the systems worked, the models were invariably intended to ease the learning curve for beginning pilots. They do this by electronically preventing the pilot from banking the wings too sharply or climbing too steeply. Stabilization systems will also level the airplane's wings automatically if the pilot gets into a jam. Some systems can even use GPS to keep the model from flying too far away.

    Rookies, however, are not the only pilots who can benefit from a little electronic assistance on the control sticks. Even after mastering that first trainer model, your skills will continue to be challenged as you step into more powerful and maneuverable ships. E-flite's Sukhoi Su-29MM ($230) is an example of an airplane that is intended for intermediate and advanced pilots, but also has a stabilization system. Keep reading and I'll tell you how it works.

    Inside the Sukhoi

    The Su-29MM is an Almost-Ready-to-Fly model made of molded foam components. Its 44" wingspan makes it a fairly compact airplane. Like the full-scale Russian airplane that it emulates, the RC version is intended for extreme aerobatics. E-flite sells the Sukhoi as a Bind-N-Fly Basic kit, meaning that you must provide a compatible transmitter and flight battery. Everything else is included. I used my Spektrum DX8 transmitter and an E-flite 3S-2200mAh LiPo battery.

    All of the necessary electronics are factory-installed in the airplane. This includes a brushless motor, 40-amp ESC, a Spektrum receiver, and four digital mini-servos. There are a few cursory assembly tasks to accomplish, but it can all be completed quickly. It took me about an hour to unpack the components and have everything assembled and programmed into a flight-ready model.

    The Technology in DJI's Phantom 4 Professional and Inspire 2

    DJI just announced two new high-end quadcopters: the $1500 Phantom 4 Professional and the long-awaited Inspire 2 ($3000). We sit down with DJI's VP of Engineering, Darren Liccardo, to learn what new camera and sensor technologies are in these quads, and how computer vision is essential to the future of these flying robots.

    Tested: Microsoft Surface Book Performance Base Review

    While Microsoft didn't announce a proper successor to its Surface Book for this holiday, they released an update to the laptop with a Performance Base model. We test the Surface Book with increased battery capacity and a new discrete GPU, as well as update you on what the past year has been like using the Surface Book as a primary work laptop.

    Tested: Kyosho’s Pistol Grip Drone Racer

    Cutting edge innovations continue to emerge from the multi-rotor industry at a hectic pace. Frankly, it's sometimes difficult to keep track of all the new stuff. A few things are bound to get lost in the noise from time to time. But the upcoming Drone Racer by Kyosho ($220) really caught my attention. My interest has nothing to do with the fact that this quad looks like a race car. I'm captivated by the notion that you drive it like a race car. Rather than the standard 2-joystick transmitter that is typically used for airborne models, this multi-rotor takes its commands from a pistol-grip transmitter like you would find at an RC racetrack. You're probably wondering how that is even possible. Keep reading and I'll explain!

    Under The Hood

    Kyosho provided a pre-production unit of the Drone Racer for me to evaluate. It is planned for release in late November and will be available in two body styles. The G-Zero model, which I received, is obviously inspired by Formula One race cars. The Zephyr version channels an angular, flat-paneled Batmobile.

    The Drone Racer is not a toy-grade novelty item. It is made of legit hobby-quality stuff. But it isn't meant to trade paint with traditional high-powered racing quads. Despite the similarity in name, they are totally different beasts. If there is such a thing as a beginner-friendly airborne racing basher, the Drone Racer is it. It is at home zipping around over your driveway or competing with friends on an impromptu parking lot race course.

    This ship reminds me of many of the beginner-oriented quads that I have flown. Its plastic frame measures 233mm between diagonal rotor shafts. Each 5"-diameter (127mm) prop is driven by a tiny brushed motor via a single-stage gearbox. Power comes from a 1-cell, 1000mAh LiPo battery.

    The Drone Racer's Formula One-like styling is unique, but its most innovative feature is the 2-channel control system.

    No assembly is required, but you will likely be turning screws at some point to make tuning adjustments. For instance, you can set the forward tilt of the rotors to 0 (default), 10, or 20-degrees. The 10 and 20-degree options provide faster forward speeds. Making the change requires swapping out plastic mounts for the frame arms. It's a quick process involving just 8 screws.

    All of the onboard electronics are configured as well. Once again, there are a few tuning options. You can choose between Easy and Active flight modes. Obviously, the Active mode offers more aggressive maneuvering. There is also an option to configure specific settings via a Windows or Android utility. A micro-USB cable is included to bridge the physical connection between the quad and your PC. The program, however, is not complete as I write this. So I was not able to utilize that feature during my testing.

    Tested: PowerUp FPV RC Paper Airplane

    We've been following the development of the PowerUp FPV ever since the project was launched on Kickstarter in late 2015. The primary goal of the PowerUp FPV package ($200) is to provide an FPV flying experience using a paper airplane as the vehicle and your phone as the controller. This concept builds on the success of the PowerUp 3.0, a product that enables line-of-sight remote control of paper airplanes. I was recently given an opportunity to try out a pre-production version of the PowerUp FPV. Actual production units should start shipping sometime in mid-November.

    An Inside Look

    The soul of the PowerUp FPV is its FPV module. This plastic and carbon fiber unit clips on to a folded paper model to provide power and control. The only moving surfaces are the propellers attached its twin motors. Differential thrust is used to turn the model in flight, while the overall throttle setting determines whether the airplane climbs or descends.

    The PowerUp FPV provides a first-person-view experience using your smart phone and a paper airplane.

    The FPV module is completely assembled at the factory. Fit and finish of the plastic parts is quite good. I appreciate that the nose of the module has a soft rubber bumper to help minimize damage in a crash. A camera is perched on top of the front end of the module. The view from this camera is downlinked to your phone for FPV flying. Video can also be recorded at 320x240-resolution to an onboard micro-SD card.

    A 1S-550mAh LiPo battery is used to energize the PowerUp FPV. This battery is removable, so you can keep a few batteries on hand for more flight time. The battery is charged via a micro-USB connection through the FPV module.

    The Star Wars Concept Art of Ralph McQuarrie

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm gushes over the new Star Wars concept art book featuring all of the work of legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie. We chat with Brandon Alinger, who co-wrote the book and dug into the LucasFilm archives to find and rescan this artwork.

    Microsoft's Surface Studio and Windows 10 Creator Update

    We head to New York for Microsoft's announcement of the Windows 10 Creator Update and its shiny new all-in-one Surface Studio computer. Norm sits down with Engadget's Devindra Hardawar to discuss what we've learned about these products and our initial impressions.

    Hobby RC Testing: ARRMA Nero 6S Monster Truck

    I've been excited to get my hands on the ARRMA Nero 6S monster truck ($700) ever since it was released a few months ago. First of all, being a 1/8-scale vehicle, the Nero is bigger than any of my previous RC ground-pounders. With a large brushless motor and 6-cell LiPo battery, the Nero also promised to be much more powerful than anything I'd ever driven.

    Size and power are certainly alluring, but the real reason I was intrigued by the Nero had to do with a feature called Diff Brain (a version of the Nero without Diff Brain is also available). This package provides the ability to lock and unlock the Nero's differentials on the fly. I've never seen such a feature on any RC vehicle before. I had no idea if this was a useful capability or just marketing hype. I couldn't wait to test it myself.

    Nero 6S Overview

    The Nero is pre-built and comes equipped with everything except batteries. You'll need two 3-cell LiPo batteries of about 5000mAh capacity. I used a pair of Duratrax Onyx 3S-5400mAh packs. You'll also want to make sure that your batteries have a high discharge capability, since the Nero will pull a lot of amps under hard acceleration. The 50C discharge rating for these Onyx units seems to be more than adequate.

    The difference between a common RC truck in 1/10-scale and one in 1/8-scale doesn't seem like it would be that significant. After all, the physical dimensions aren't that far apart. I soon found that assumption to be false. The Nero has more than double the mass and power of most of my 1/10-scale rides. Moving up to a 1/8-scale vehicle brings a whole new level of performance and significantly beefier components. You'll also need to be prepared for increased maintenance overhead.

    The ARRMA Nero 6S is a completely prebuilt model that includes a 3-channel radio system.

    Two red-anodized aluminum plates comprise the backbone of the Nero's chassis. All of the other chassis components are made of black nylon. The suspension is damped by four large, oil-filled shocks. The shocks are in a horizontal orientation with bellcranks and pushrods connecting them to the suspension arms.

    Tested: Lenovo Yoga Book Review

    We review Lenovo's Yoga Book, a 2-in-1 that's one of the smallest hybrid computers we've used. Patrick and Norm evaluate its capacitive glass keyboard, which also doubles as a wacom drawing tablet.

    Hands-On with Superhot VR

    Norm and Jeremy play Superhot VR, a virtual reality shooter that turns the concept of bullet time into almost a puzzle game. We show how the innovative mechanic seens suited for VR, discuss our different play styles, and then chat with the game's developer about the scope of Superhot VR.

    Tested: Hover Camera Passport Drone Review

    We review the Hover Camera Passport, a lightweight foldable quadcopter that uses computer vision technology to track your face and body as it flies around you. We love its compact design and ease of use, and take the drone out for test flights around the city. Here's what we think of the resulting footage.

    Hands-On: Lone Echo for Oculus Touch

    At this year's Oculus Connect, we played a new VR game that may be our favorite virtual reality experience yet. Lone Echo is the first game we've played that lets us travel in real-time around its world without getting us sick. Its movement mechanic is ingenious!

    Hands-On with Epic Games Robo Recall for Oculus Touch

    Epic Games--the makers of Unreal--have just announced their first full VR game: Robo Recall. We playtest a demo of this virtual reality shooter at Oculus Connect, using the new Touch motion controllers. After chatting with Epic Games about the gameplay design ideas in Robo Recall, Jeremy and Norm share their impressions.

    Tested: PlayStation VR Review

    It's finally here! We review Sony's virtual reality headset, PlayStation VR, which has potential to bring VR to mainstream gamers. Jeremy and Norm discuss PS VR's display quality, ergonomic design, motion controllers, tracking performance, and launch games. Here's how PS VR's hardware and gaming experience compare to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

    Show and Tell: Game Frame 2.0 Pixel Art Display

    Game Frame is a pixel art display our very own Jeremy Williams made to show off 8-bit art and animations--a passion project that helped him learn arduino programming, product design, and manufacturing. We check out some of the newest Game Frame's features, including an optional Wi-Fi add-on to make it a connected device. (Find out more about the Game Frame here and use the code "8bit" for $20 off!)

    Hands-On with Looking Glass Volume, a True Volumetric 3D Display!

    We get up close with Volume, a true volumetric display that can be used for creating 3D content, viewing depth-enhanced videos, and playing holographic games. Its inventors stop by our office to explain how the display works and how they hope volumetric imaging can change how we interact with computer graphics and imagery.

    Hands-On with DJI Mavic Foldable Quadcopter Drone!

    We go hands-on with the DJI Mavic, a foldable drone that's half the size and weight of the Phantom 4 quadcopter. We take it for a test flight, check out its 4K video quality, and chat with DJI about its unique features, including a new computer vision tracking system and wi-fi transmitter control. Here's our hopes and fears for this new category of compact quads.