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    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.

    Google Play App Roundup: Clip Layer, Battleship Lonewolf, and Samorost 3

    Your phone or tablet might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new, and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.

    Clip Layer

    Android has always supported copying text, even back when that was unusual on mobile devices. However, there are still lots of places in the OS that text isn't accessible. There are a few apps that let you grab that text, but Microsoft's Clip Layer seems to be the best at it. There is, however, a drawback. You'll lose Google Now on Tap. Okay, admittedly that's a pretty minor drawback.

    Clip Layer is bound to the long-press home button shortcut—it takes over the Assist command in the system settings. On most phones, that's still Google Now on Tap. The lone exception being the Pixel phones. On those devices, the long-press action launches Assistant. Assistant is useful, so I don't know that I'd recommend using Clip Layer on the Pixel. Everyone else is only losing access to Now on Tap (AKA screen search), which Google has effectively abandoned.

    Your screen is overlaid with a grid showing all detected text when you long-press to launch Clip Layer. To select text, just tap the boxes. These can be app icon labels, contents from widgets, or just text in an app that doesn't expose it for selection. Then, tap the floating text icon in the upper right corner to see all the text you've selected.

    Like other apps, Clip Layer can only grab an entire block of text at a time. However, you can edit a bit in the text popup. You can long-press here to select and copy just a part of the text you've pulled out of the screen.

    At the bottom of the screen in Clip Layer mode are several action buttons including copy, task, email, and share. The copy button is self-explanatory. Task plugs into Wunderlist to turn the text into a to-do (you have to log into Wunderlist first). Email drops the text into a new email, and share simply opens the system sharing menu so you can send the text anyplace else.

    Clip Layer is free, and it's a good solution if you often find yourself needing to copy text from odd places. Losing the long-press shortcut is a minor drawback right now for most phones. If Assistant comes to more devices in the future, you may be less keen on it, though.

    The Best Unlocked and Carrier Android Smartphone (December 2016)

    As we coast through the final weeks of the year, you may be eyeing deals on smartphones and wondering which one you should get. It's a big decision, and one that's harder than ever to make. New phones are constantly coming out, but this is the perfect time to pick one up. We're still months out from the 2017 flagships, and we've seen all the big 2016 releases. Google is making it easier than ever to pick up its latest and greatest, but Samsung is really trying to make up for that Note7 fiasco with some good deals. What's a smartphone buyer to do?

    Carrier phones

    Despite the issues with Samsung's Note 7 release this fall, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have held up well and don't (as far as I'm aware) blow up any more often than other phones. That's a good thing. The GS7 continues to be the best overall phone that you can get from your carrier, or at least from all carriers. Verizon customers can get the Pixel from Big Red, but we'll get into that later. First, let's talk about why the Galaxy S7 is still worthy of your attention.

    The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have Super AMOLED panels at 2560x1440 resolution. The GS7 is 5.1-inches, while the Edge variant has a larger 5.5-inch display. These are still the best panels you can get on a smartphone, though the gap is closing. They're bright, have perfect viewing angles, and the colors are very accurate. Then there's the Edge, which is so named because the screen curves down on both the left and right sides. It looks cool, but it's actually less comfortable to hold. The Pixel XL's display is almost as good, but samsung still wins on this front.

    Samsung used to build phones that felt cheap, but I'm still impressed when I pick up the GS7. The front and back are both Gorilla Glass, but it feels so well put together. It's IP68 water resistant, and feels very dense in the hand. It's a little heavier than you probably expect when you pick it up, but it has a slight curve, making it much more comfortable to hold.

    This phone is slightly thicker than Samsung's 2015 flagship, allowing for a larger battery. The GS7 has a 3000mAh battery and the GS7 Edge has 3600mA. In both cases, these cells perform very well. I've been using a GS7 Edge on and off for months and it easily lasts a day with heavy use. The smaller GS7 is almost as good. Both phones support Quick Charge 2.0 and wireless charging, but they have microUSB ports. That's increasingly odd as time goes on.

    The GS7 has held up well in terms of performance. It was never a blazing-fast phone, but it's fast enough. The Snapdragon 820 has shown up in a lot of phones, but Samsung lowered the clock speed a bit to make the device more power efficient. There are no issues with multitasking thanks to the 4GB of RAM, though.

    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!

    High Exposure: The Art of Photographing Rocket Launches

    We've all seen close-up photos of fire-belching rockets as they break free from the launch pad. But have you ever given any thought to how such dramatic images are captured? After all, the only people who are allowed within miles of the launch pad are required to have a reserved seat inside the rocket!

    As it turns out, shooting rocket launches requires a photographer with a wide array of skills and a few bits of custom equipment in their kit. These artists set up their gear near the launch pad well in advance of the final countdown. They will be miles away during the moment of truth, where all they can do is cross their fingers and hope that everything works as planned.

    Camera equipment is often left next to the launch pad for days at a time. The setup seen here illustrates one of the countless techniques that photographers improvise to protect their gear from the elements.

    Between unpredictable weather conditions, the harsh environment near flaming rockets, and random gremlins, there are far too many variables involved to ever be totally confident of success. Meticulous preparation is key, and a little luck doesn't hurt either. Even so, these photographers have more at stake than just missing the shot with no chance for a mulligan. They could actually lose their camera gear in the process. Because…well, sometimes the rocket photography gods demand a sacrifice.

    An Expert's Insight

    Ben Cooper has been shooting launches for 17 years. During that time, his photos have earned many awards and appeared on countless magazine covers. You've probably seen his work. I recently had a chat with Ben to find out how he approaches the challenge of shooting rocket close-ups.

    Hobby RC: An Introduction To RC Jets

    One of the things I love about the RC hobby is that it allows you to choose your desired level of commitment. You can pick up a $30 model from the toy store and have just as much fun as someone with a custom trailer full of high-dollar equipment. While this column often explores projects on the lower end of the spectrum, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the most complex and expensive RC models around: jets.

    What is a Real RC Jet?

    There are all sorts of RC models that look like jets, but they are not true jet aircraft. Some are powered by electric motors that drive ducted fans, while others have discreetly located propellers. I'm not knocking those faux jets (I own several myself), but the subject of this article is models that are powered by genuine jet engines.

    Because the turbojet engines intended for RC models operate just like the powerplants found on full-scale jets, they are tough to beat when it comes to scale realism. They look the same, they sound the same, and their exhaust even smells the same. I have taken photos of RC jets where it is virtually impossible to distinguish whether the aircraft is a model or the real thing.

    Not all RC jets are scale models. There are also numerous sleek and attractive sport designs such as this Tomahawk Futura.

    Of course, not all RC jets are scale models. There seems to be about a 50/50 split between scale subjects and sport models that are unique designs. There are a few turbine airframes that appear boxy and utilitarian. Most, however, are sleek and curvy. Those complex, rounded shapes are possible thanks to the use of molded fiberglass and carbon fiber components. There are also some jet airframes that employ traditional balsa construction techniques. It is not uncommon to find elements of both building styles within a single model.

    Google Play App Roundup: Contextual App Folder, Jade Empire, and Hopeless 3

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Contextual App Folder

    As you install more apps and games, your app drawer will increasingly become a pain to navigate. You can add shortcuts to your home screen, but eventually you end up with the same problem—too many things and not enough space. Contextual App Folder can help with a simple folder that changes its contents based on triggers like time, location, and connected devices.

    To start, Contextual App Folder comes with a "Default" folder and one for "Headphones." All you get in default is a link to the Contextual App Folder settings. The Headphones folder will include any apps Contextual App Folder recognizes as audio or music-related. Default is the folder what appears on your home screen when no other of your contextual settings have been triggered. You can change the name of this folder, as well as what's in it. The same goes for the Headphones folder.

    Those two are just the start. Contextual App Folder includes conditions for the time of day, location, various device status triggers like being on a phone call, getting a notification from certain apps, and charging. When you select a new condition to create a folder, you have to choose which apps you want included in it. The order of these apps can also be changed.

    To use Contextual App Folder, just add it as a widget to the home screen. One thing I've always disliked about similar dynamic folder apps is that they don't look like folders. That's not the case with Contextual App Folder. It looks and acts like a regular folder on your home screen, but you can also tweak the style to use different colors, font sizes, and layouts.

    As for the basic functionality, I'm very impressed with Contextual App Folder. The folder updates to the right context extremely fast—within a second or two of plugging in headphones, for example. This app is still in early access, but it seems really solid. It's free right now, although I imagine there will be an in-app upgrade option when it's officially released.

    Google Play App Roundup: PhotoScan, NYTimes - Crossword, and Space Marshals 2

    There's always something awesome happening on Android. There are killer apps, amazing games, and utilities unlike you'll find on other platforms. The goal of the Google Play App Roundup is to find the best of the best in all those categories so you don't have to hunt them down manually. Just click on the app name to head right to the Play Store.


    Digital cameras have been a mainstream consumer item for over a decade at this point, and smartphone cameras have been fantastic in recent years. As such, the use of film cameras is essentially zero, but many of us still have mountains of old photo albums in the attic. These photos won't last forever, and now Google has released an app that aims to make digitizing them easier. It's called PhotoScan.

    There are several apps in the Play Store that claim to scan your photos, but Google says it's approach is better. PhotoScan leverages the power of machine learning to intelligently recreate the physical photo in digital format with no glare or perspective distortion.

    If you've ever tried to take a photo of a photo, you know how bad the quality usually is. You're forced to either take a picture head-on and deal with glare, or take it at an angle and end up with a screwed up perspective. PhotoScan eliminates both of those issues because it's not taking a single photo.

    To start, you set the photo down and take a picture of it with the app. I know I said you aren't taking a photo of the photo, but this is just to help the app detect the general layout. Four dots will be overlaid in the viewfinder toward the corners of the photo. Simply move the phone to point at each one of those dots until the circle fills up. This is where all of Google's AI magic happens. It filters out all the glare from different individual captures, then slices the photo up into segments. Each one is transformed slightly and reassembled to correct for the subtly different perspectives of each capture.

    Your in-app camera roll shows the results from each photo almost instantly, which is quite impressive. There are times when the app can't quite detect the corners of the photo—this usually happens when the original doesn't take up very much of the frame. You can crop the image down manually to adjust the corners, which should give PhotoScan what it needs to output the final image.

    Photos that you create with this app can be uploaded to Google Photos and saved to your device. I think the quality of the photos is very good overall. You should try to do your scans in good natural light as the LED on the phone tends to make images cooler than the original. However, the images created by PhotoScan do look like photos, and not photos of photos. It's a free app, so give it a shot.

    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.

    Making Murloc Costumes for BlizzCon 2016!

    We stop by Frank's shop to learn about a secret project he's been working on for this year's BlizzCon! Frank and his team made two Murloc costumes, and walk us through the whole process of sculpting, molding, painting, and dressing up these creatures to meet fans and spread the word about Hearthstone's newest expansion.

    Google Play App Roundup: Fingerprint Gestures, Party Hard Go, and Skyhill

    You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

    Fingerprint Gestures

    Google's new Pixel phones include a gesture to open the navigation pane by swiping the fingerprint sensor. It's neat but largely inconsequential to your daily use. However, when Google noted that this feature would not come to other devices on Android 7.1, people were not pleased. It was the principle of the thing. Well, now there's an app that can replicate that feature on a lot of devices with a little hackery.

    Fingerprint Gestures is a service that runs in the background and plugs into Google's fingerprint API, which was added in Android 6.0. Not all phones have the standard fingerprint implementation, but the vast majority of phones that ship with Marshmallow do. I tested Fingerprint Gestures on an LG V20, and it worked as expected. It functions by running as an accessibility service, so you'll be prompted to enable that the first time Fingerprint Gestures is configured.

    To be clear, this app works without root, which surprised me at first. I suppose it makes sense in the context of an app with accessibility access. However, there are a few extra features you can enable if you do have root on your phone. Whether or not you have root determines which functions you can associate with tapping, double-tapping, and swiping the sensor.

    Without root, you can do things like open the notification panel, trigger the home button, open recent apps, and access the device power menu. There's also an option to create a shortcut panel that can be accessed from one of the sensor gestures. With root, you can scroll up and down or put the phone to sleep.

    You will have to put up with a persistent notification while Fingerprint Gestures is running. If you can get over that, it works pretty well. Although, if you have a phone with the sensor on the back, it's easy to accidentally brush it and trigger the app. It feels more useful for a phone where the fingerprint sensor is on the front or side.

    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.