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    Studying How We Type with Finger Tracking

    Aalto University recently conducted a story about the correlation of finger and eye movement with performance (speed and accuracy) for everyday typing. 52 tracking markers on subjects' fingers were recorded at 240 frames per second, alongside 30fps eye-tracking data to analyze which fingers are used to press which keys, and the differences in typing strategies. The researchers found several surprising results, including that self-taught typists can reach the performance of touch typists, even when using fewer fingers and "hunt-and-peck" techniques.

    In Brief: Designing the Fallout 4 Mini Nuke Model

    Friend of Tested Jacky Wan, who we've been featuring in our series of 3D-printing design videos, just posted an in-depth recap of his design and printing of the cutaway Mini Nuke from Fallout 4. Jacky (aka Valcrow), who collaborates with Ultimaker, took on the challenge of modeling the curved egg-shell of the nuke to print in pieces to avoid overhangs and to make use of natural seams. Those considerations are a hallmark of his designs, which snap fit together without glue. The Mini Nuke with internals is available as a printed kit, but Jacky has also released the shell file as a free download!

    Norman
    Tested: Axial Yeti SCORE RC Off-Road Truck

    I've covered several different types of RC trucks in this column before. Two of the more recent genres were short course trucks and rock crawlers. While both were fun, they are very different types of vehicles. The subject of this review doesn't really fall into a specific category. If you had to give it a label, I suppose that "scale Baja racer" would suffice. Whatever you want to call it, this vehicle is in many respects a hybrid of rock crawlers and short course trucks. Let's check it out.

    The Yeti SCORE has many features that make it like a hybrid of rock crawlers and short course trucks.

    The Yeti SCORE

    Axial Racing developed the Yeti SCORE ($450) in the image of Trophy Truck racers that compete in grueling cross-country events such as the Baja 1000. SCORE International (Sanctioning Committee Off Road Events) is the organization that manages the Baja 1000 and similar races in Southern California and Mexico. Of all the different vehicles that compete in SCORE events, trophy trucks are considered the biggest and baddest. These trucks are designed to navigate all types of terrain at top speed. Gobs of horsepower and tons of suspension travel are key attributes.

    Most modern day off-road RC trucks share very little design-wise with trophy trucks. For that reason, you would expect a trophy-truck-themed RC vehicle to have only cosmetic similarities with its inspiration. That is not the case here. Axial designed the Yeti SCORE with many of the same features found on full-scale trophy trucks.

    At first glance, the Yeti SCORE has a strong resemblance to the Wraith rock crawler. Both trucks feature a centrally-mounted motor with a shaft-driven 4-wheel-drive system. Also evident is the 4-link rear suspension that provides an enormous amount of travel for the solid rear axle. The radio receiver is housed in a waterproof compartment and a Tactic TSX45 metal-gear servo handles the steering.

    Behind-the-Scenes of Tested's Studio Production

    Over the years, we've given you some glimpses into our productions process--from camera and audio recording gear to podcast setup. But so much of how we produce videos and content on Tested isn't about the equipment and technology, but about the process. Specifically, the process that Joey has set up to shoot both in-studio and on-location videos as a one-person production team. (We've had additional help from time to time, and a new associate producer, Adam Isaak, whose work you've seen lately.) NewTek, the makers of the Tricaster video mixer, recently interviewed Joey for an extensive blog post about that process. From camera lens to streaming output, they walk you through Joey's current setup and thought process for recording reviews, builds, and podcasts.

    It's recognition and credit of a process that's difficult to get across just from watching the finished videos, and I hope you'll share our appreciate of it. Testing happens both in front of and behind the cameras, and we'll continue to give you insights into how we make our content in future videos.

    For more on Joey's ever-evolving production process, you can read his piece on cameras, his post on editing One Day Builds, and this video about color grading.

    Designing a 3D-Printed Model Airplane Kit

    We're joined by Jacky Wan this week as he shares his latest design: model airplane kit that's completely 3D-printed! Jacky chats with Sean about how he designed the kit pieces to snap together with strong joints, and how orienting the print pieces at specific angles streamline the look of the model.

    Destroying a Soda Can with a Ping Pong Ball!

    We're introducing a new series this week demonstrating Simple Feats of Science! Kishore and Norm are joined by Zeke Kossover from San Francisco's Exploratorium science museum to show how you can destroy a soda can with a ping pong ball moving at almost the speed of sound! (Thanks to the Exploratorium for sharing with us these experiments.)

    Google Play App Roundup: Promo Codes, Merged, and Space Grunts

    It's time again to dive into the Google Play Store and see what apps we can find. Every week we find the best new and newly updated apps for the Roundup, and this week is no exception. Just click on the app name to head to the Play Store.

    Promo Codes

    In case you haven't heard, Google has finally started offering promo codes for apps and games in the Play Store. That means developers can produce promo codes that grant the user (that's you) a free copy of an app/game or in-app content. This is handy for reviewer (that's me) of course, but it's also going to lead to more giveaways. There's already an app from a noted developer that seeks to take advantage of this feature called Promo Codes. Can you guess what it does? Yep, distributes promo codes… if you're lucky.

    This app was created by Jack Underwood, the developer of the popular Today Calendar app. It's an incredibly simple app, but an interesting idea. When you open Promo Codes, you have a chance of winning a free copy of an app or game, provided via a Play store promo code. that means you own the content completely and will continue getting updates normally.

    To play, just tap the I'm Feeling Lucky button and wait. More than likely, you'll be taken to the Play Store listing for the promoted app, and see a popup message stating that you didn't win. If, however, you are the lucky winner of a code, it will be automatically copied into your clipboard. Simply open the Redeem menu in the Play Store and paste it in to get your free app or game.

    Promo Codes only gives you one chance to win per day, and there's an option in the settings to have it notify you when you can try again. Actually, that's the only setting right now. I did say this is a simple app, right?

    Underwood is basically looking for developers to sponsor Promo Codes and have their apps featured as the prize you can win. Whether or not they respond positively will determine the fate of Promo Codes, but it's already given away some licenses to good stuff. You might as well install it and give it a look.

    Designing a 3D-Printed Prosthetic Arm

    3D printing isn't just for prototyping or making toys--it can also be used to manufacture working prosthetic limbs. We're joined by designer Jacky Wan this week to learn about his work with the Enabling The Future, an organization developing a 3D-printable arm prosthetic. Jacky's design goes above and beyond the requirements of the project, and looks beautiful too!

    Five Busted Android Devices that Were Canceled Before Launch

    Nobody sets out to design a product that fails before it even launches, but it happens sometimes. With all the variation and freedom the Android platform affords device makers, people can just get carried away. Even otherwise very successful companies have screwed up by misreading the market or cutting corners in engineering. Let's look back at five Android devices that were so terrible or broken that they were never released.

    Nexus Q

    Google itself is not immune to poor decision making when it comes to Android hardware, and the Nexus Q (above) is the clearest example of that. This entirely in-house endeavor grew out of Google's Project Tungsten, an offshoot of Android@Home. The 2012 Nexus Q was supposed to be a set top box receiver for media beamed from your phone. Sound like anything you've heard of more recently? The Q was basically a Chromecast with fewer features and a $300 price tag.

    The Nexus Q ran a heavily modified build of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to play content from YouTube, Play Music, and Play Movies. Notice anything missing? Yeah, it didn't even support Netflix. The hardware itself was high quality, with a spherical metal housing and powerful 25 watt stereo amplifier, but no one was going to pay $300 for the Nexus Q when a $100 Roku did so much more.

    Free Nexus Q units were handed out at I/O 2012, but the initial response from reviewers was so negative that Google decided to pause the launch and reevaluate the feature set. The company also sent out free Nexus Qs to anyone who pre-ordered one. Apparently taking their money for something so fundamentally flawed was a non-starter. By early 2013, Google had scrubbed the Nexus Q from its site, indicating the device was never coming out. Several months later, it began shutting down the servers that handled streaming for the Q, rendering existing devices useless.

    Testing Tactic’s License-Free FPV Video Transmitter

    Most video transmission equipment used for First Person View (FPV) flying requires a FCC amateur radio license (aka "ham license") to operate legally. There is definitely good reason for that requirement and getting the license is not an overly complicated process. Even so, many people balk at the licensing obligation and either avoid FPV flying or do so illegally.

    An alternative to getting a ham license (at least for US citizens) is to use non-licensed equipment--that is, devices that meet the FCC requirements for use without a license. Most of the common RF-transmitting devices in your home fall under that umbrella. That's why you don't need a ham license to operate your wireless router, cordless phone or remote garage door opener.

    There are currently a handful of FPV video transmitters (VTX) that qualify for unlicensed use. By virtue of their certification, these transmitters have relatively low power output. Less power equals less range. But how much power is enough? I decided to test one of these systems to see if license-free FPV flight is practical.

    Tactic FPV-T1

    Tactic recently released a line of FPV gear that includes a camera, a 7" monitor with dual built-in 5.8GHz video receivers, and three 5.8GHz video transmitters. The VTX units are available in 25mW, 200mW, and 600mW models. It is the 25mW FPV-T1 ($45) that is license-free. The FPV-T1 is actually larger and heavier than the more powerful models. This, however, is a reflection of the plastic case that encloses the FPV-T1. The other units have a heatshrink casing. Even so, the FPV-T1 weighs less than 20 grams with the antenna.

    The Tactic FPV-T1 is a 25mW FPV video transmitter that does not require an amateur radio license to operate legally.

    There are 22 channel options within the 5.8GHz band for this VTX. The desired channel is selected by positioning a bank of five dip switches on the back of the unit. A chart in the manual illustrates the proper switch positions for each channel, so keep it handy.

    One of the biggest factors that can determine the reception quality and range of a given set up is the antenna selection. The FPV-T1, like the Tactic FPV-RM1 receiver/monitor, includes a linear polarized whip antenna. While they work acceptably well, they are pretty much the bottom rung of the 5.8GHz FPV antenna ladder.

    Tested In-Depth: Apple TV (4th Generation)

    After living with the new 4th generation Apple TV for a month, Norm and Patrick Norton evaluate how this set-top box performs against its competition. There's a lot to like about its interface and implementation of video streaming apps, but a few things bug us about its remote design and consistency of voice-control. Here's why it's not the cord-cutting device for everyone.

    The Best Android Smartphones for Your Network (February 2016)

    We're on the verge of big things in the Android ecosystem. Well, you could make the argument that we always are, but this month in particular things are about to break loose. New phones from Samsung and LG are a lock for Mobile World Congress in a few weeks, but in the meantime there are still some excellent devices out there. Let's see what your options are, and when you should hold off.

    Carrier-branded Phones

    In recent months, I've cited the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 as the best devices you can get direct from your carrier. That's still true, but the Galaxy S7 and Lg G5 are only weeks away. Let's examine some of the rumors and compare that to what you can buy right now.

    The GS6 has a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel, which continues to be one of the best screens available on a smartphone. It's 1440p and the colors are amazing. At 5.1-inches, it's actually comfortable to use one-handed too. The reasonably sized and fantastic screen continues to be one of the primary selling points of this phone. Based on what I've heard from reliable sources, the Galaxy S7 will have the same resolution and form factor. The screen's characteristics will probably be improved, but not dramatically.

    The Galaxy S6 has an aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass front/rear panels, and the GS7 will be much the same. Samsung's phones feel solid, despite having glass rear panels. You can expect the GS7 to also have a non-removable battery like the GS6.

    Samsung still has the best overall camera available on an Android smartphone. Even if you buy it now, you won't be disappointed. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 16MP shooter with optical image stabilization and an f/1.9 lens. The exposure quality and consistency are better than any other phone right now, even in low light. The GS7 will probably step down to a 12MP sensor, but with a much wider aperture for better low-light performance.

    Inside, the Galaxy S6 has an octa-core Exynos chip with four faster Cortex-A57 cores and four light-duty A53s. This was a stopgap measure to counter Qualcomm's 810 overheating issues, but the Galaxy S7 will reportedly switch back to a Snapdragon chip, the 820. This is one of the big reasons you might want to wait -- the GS7 will be faster and more power-efficient.

    The GS6 also has 3GB of RAM, 32/64/128GB of storage, and 2550mAh non-removable battery. It's very fast in daily use, but battery life is just average. I regularly see 4 hours of screen time in a single day, but some people are a little higher or lower. It's not going to make it through two full days, but a little more than one is feasible. The GS7 is said to have a larger battery, but the big improvement here is the addition of a microSD card slot. This isn't 100% yet, but it seems very likely.

    Hands-On: VR Zombie Shooting in Arizona Sunshine

    Developer Vertigo Games are making a zombie shoot-'em-up for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, and we demo it at the recent SteamVR Developer Showcase. Afterward, we chat with the studio about how it's making zombie shooting fun, interesting, and challenging in room-scale VR.

    Tested: Form 2 SLA Desktop 3D Printer

    A few months ago, we previewed the new Formlabs Form 2 SLA resin 3D printer, which on paper looked to be an improvement on the Form 1+ printer in every way. Since then, Formlabs supplied us with a review unit to evaluate those improvements in long-term testing. The upshot is that the Form 2 lives up to its promises--it's an amazing 3D printer. But you should read our extended review before you go out and buy one.

    Photo credit: Formlabs

    Compared to original Formlabs Form 1 printer, the Form 2 has a bigger print volume, a more powerful laser, a new resin cartridge system and new peel mechanism, among many other updates. When we reviewed the Form 1+, I was mostly pleased with its prints, but there were a number of things that I felt needed addressed, including the tendency for several critical components to fail in my early test units. Formlabs has done so with the Form 2--we've not had a single mechanical failure. Our review was with a pre-production printer with original firmware and beta software. [NOTE: I'm not going into detail about how the SLA printing process works, as on a base level, it has not changed from the Form 1+. Take a look at that review for an in-depth explanation.]

    The Print Quality

    Impressive Detail!

    We were very pleased with the Form 2 prints, most were done at 50-100 microns. The resolved detail was very impressive even at 100 micron, especially when compared to prints off of industrial 3D printing machines not meant for home-use. For most prints I can't see needing to go much below 50 microns as the quality was great. Prints that completed had very few flaws, too. Occasionally, very small details in our prints broke off during printing (ie: GIR's antenna tip, Nautilus tip). On many of the Form 1+ prints the side that printed nearest the platform tended to have some 'mushy' details, and I did not notice this on the Form 2. Noticed on some prints, we address this in the video.

    Hands-On: VR Shooting Gallery in Space Pirate Trainer

    Here's one game we played at the SteamVR Developer Showcase that feels like the perfect virtual reality arcade game. Space Pirate Trainer shows that there's a lot of complexity and tuning needed to get one just one basic mechanic feeling right in VR. They've got the shooting gallery down!

    Google Play App Roundup: Guides by Lonely Planet, Downwell, and Punch Club

    Another week is upon us, and that means it's time to check out the state of the Google Play Store. Your phone is only a shadow of itself without the best apps, so it's a good thing we're here to save the day. Just click on the app name to pull up the Google Play Store so you can try things out for yourself.

    Guides by Lonely Planet

    Planning some travel? If planning is the operative word there, you might want to get the new Lonely Planet app on your mobile device. Lonely Planet is the largest publisher of travel guides in the world, making it a great resource for getting your trip lined up in advance, or even spur of the moment.

    The Lonely Planet app includes comprehensive guides for a lot of cities (a few dozen), but not everywhere you might visit. If you can't find a guide for a city, the app can notify you if a guide is released. The guides you want will be downloaded locally to your device for offline accessibility. That's handy for those times when you're visiting a place where you won't have reliable (or reasonably priced) internet access on your phone.

    The app shows your downloaded city guides right at the top. Upon opening it, there are categories for food, entertainment, shopping, attractions, and so on. There's also a map at the top you can view that has all the points of interest on it. Importantly, this map is also available offline. Below the categories are "interests, " which are specific groups of places like museums and historic points of interest.

    This is a material app with proper implementation of the slide-out navigation menu with different sections of the guide. The default view is Discover, but there's also Need to Know with basic overview information and cost data. It's impressive how deep these guides go. You can drill down to get reviews of individual restaurants and attractions. The app itself is a bit plain (predominantly white), but there are various material animations and the content is all native, not webframe. It's fast and easy to get around in if you've used any other modern Android app.

    If Lonely Planet has a guide for your destination, it's a no-brainer to download and use it. The guides are great and the app is free.