The Best of Tested 2012: March-April

By Norman Chan

This year in review, part one.

The beginning of 2012 was an interesting time for Tested. We had just come back from a wildly successful CES and The Amazing Test experiment was turning out to be a great serial video series. But no one could have predicted where the rest of the year would take us. On March 16th, we announced the new direction of the site, but in truth, it would be a while before any of us would know what that direction really meant. We had a general idea of what we wanted to keep the same and what we knew would have to change, so we set out to test the waters with new types of stories and fresh topics of interest. Not having an office afforded us the opportunity to go out on the road to meet fascinating new people and take steps out of our comfort zones. I think it all worked out pretty well in the end.

Let's retrace that journey we began in March and revisit our best stories and videos from the past 10 months. And for new readers to the site, this is a chance for you to read the great stories you may have missed!

The State of PC Gaming Graphics and The Real Cost of DirectX 11

Without a proper lab, one of the things we haven't been able to do is properly test new computer components like video cards. That's why we've relied on experts like Loyd Case to help us out in those areas. Before Loyd took on a full-time position at PC World, he wrote a monthly column about living with technology for us, sharing insights from his access to and testing of PC hardware and other electronics. His last column for us was a great one, elucidating the state of PC gaming. Nathan Edwards fills that PC-expert role now, and he's doing an awesome job.

Cardboard X Circuitry: The Charm and Allure of Electronic Board Games

Perhaps the person who best took advantage of our new open-ended direction was Tested stalwart Wes Fenlon. Wes and I brainstormed a ton of different ideas for stories that we thought may be interesting for you, some of which may have only been on the fringes of topicality in the "old" Tested days. Wes and I had a lot of fun playing old board games for his story on the electronic board game fad.

How Futurist William Gibsom is Still a Man of His Time

On the day of the site's relaunch, Wes was more than happy to share some thoughts on the work of writer and futurist William Gibson. This feature explored the evolution of Gibson's writing and how his views were a reflection of fast-changing decades in which he wrote his novels.

iPad Autopsy - Will and Norm Dismantle Apple's New iPad

One of the first videos we shot for the site was a take-apart of Apple's third-generation iPad with Retina screen. Joey was actually away on a trip at the time, so we hired a freelance team of videographers to shoot and edit this for us. They used Canon 5D Mark II cameras for this shoot, which explains why it looks different from our other videos.

The Cosplay, Collectibles, and Curiosities of Wondercon 2012

Four hours after shooting that iPad video, I was on a flight that Friday night to Los Angeles to attend Wondercon and shoot this photo gallery. And two days later, I was on a plane back to San Francisco to rush to Bricks by the Bay, our first Lego convention. I plan to be at both events this coming year, too.

Meet John Collins, "The Paper Airplane Guy"

We had an awesome time talking with John Collins and learning his approach to designing and folding world-class paper airplanes. I had seen John do talks in past Maker Faires, and the timing was perfect to reach out to him because he had just completed his record-breaking attempt. Another odd connection: the person John hired to throw the airplane for him was Joy Ayoob, the quarterback for Cal football when I attended school there.

Exploring Modernist Cuisine: The Science of Contemporary Cooking

The San Francisco Exploratorium's After Dark session on Gastronomy was the first real non-tech event we went to as the new Tested. Food and science stirred together made for an awesome cocktail. We shot a few videos there about the science of taste and cooking, including this conversation with Maxime Bilet of Modernist Cuisine. (We would see them later in the year when we visited them in Seattle, too.) Wes also wrote a few neat food features from that trip.

Cardboard X Cassettes: How VHS Board Games Took Over '90s Living Rooms

Wes's first story on novelty board games was a hit, so he followed up with this investigation into the short-lived trend of VHS games from the early '90s. These were tremendously fun to play as well.

The Elaborate Shooting Galleries of NAB Show 2012

We capped off the first two months of the new site with a big trip through both Las Vegas for NAB Show and Portland for SCAA 2012. NAB, an industry convention for broadcasters and production houses, exposed us to new camera technologies and equipment that we would use later in the year, like Sony's FS700 camera for slow-motion videos. We got a chance to use the BlackMagic Cinema Camera that was the buzz of the show and have a conversation with Steve Weiss and Bruce Logan (Director of Special Visual Effects for Star Wars) about Hollywood's transition from analog film to digital mediums. NAB was a lot of fun, and those fake shooting galleries at each booth were pretty weird.

Coffee Sipping, Slurping, and Spitting at SCAA 2012

The world's top Aeropress brewer. Steampunk coffee machines. Kickstarted brewing systems. None of that compared to the weird world of professional coffee slurping we witnessed at this year's SCAA 2012 event.