On this second day of Tested Christmas, Will shares a new gadget that's a modern reinvention of the Camera Lucida. It's a small desktop drawing tool that acts as an optical aid for artists drawing any object in front of them. A centuries old technology redesigned for the modern era. Neat!
Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed Steve Wozniak about the early days of Apple for this delightful video. The ever-charming Woz talks about how he and Steve Jobs decided to make the Apple 1 computer as a consumer product, the myth of the Palo Alto garage, and why he takes so much pride in the Apple computer's design.
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.
This week streaming your gameplay gets easier, the tanks roll in, and it's time to strap rockets to your car.
You are probably aware of Twitch, the game streaming service that Amazon recently acquired for nearly $1 billion. Nvidia is the only OEM that has built Twitch into its Android build so you can stream games, but Shou.TV wants to offer a similar service for all Android users to enjoy. Well, not all, but more. This app uses the screen recording functionality built into Android 5.0 (and with root for earlier versions) to stream and save gameplay videos. Of course, you could use it to make screen recordings of whatever you want.
When you open Shou.TV on your Lollipop device, it will ask for permission to start capturing the screen. You'll have to make an account or use Google/Facebook to sign in. This sets up a Shou.TV profile page for you where others can go to watch your live game streaming. It's worth checking out the settings before you make your first video, though. For some reason the developers decided to set MKV as the default video container. You'll probably want to change that to MP4 for better compatibility. You can also adjust the resolution and bitrate--the default is 720p and 8 Mpbs.
The app has three tabs for checking out featured videos and filtering by game. When you're ready to broadcast, just head to that tab in the app. Add a name for the stream and what game you're playing, then hit broadcast. The stream will go live on your Shou.TV page with a delay of about 10 seconds. A small floating widget on the screen will let you chat with viewers and toggle the front camera on and off. You also have access to privacy settings, which require you enable Shou.TV as an accessibility service.
You should definitely take a look at the privacy options. It lists all the apps on your device so you can choose which ones you want to exclude from recordings. So, for example, you're playing a game, and you hop into a flagged app like Gmail. The video feed will blur out (with a privacy message) until you're back in an approved app. It's very handy.
This week, Will prints something for his daughter to play with. That's right, it's toddler toys from the Printrbot!
How many of you have ever dropped and cracked your smartphone? For some phones, the process of replacing a shattered display isn't as daunting as your might think. Will walks through the repair of a broken Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, using iFixit tools and explaining each step along the way. Follow along the teardown and reassembly! Plus--giveaways!
From New Scientist, an experiment utilizing directed high frequency sound waves to give the sensation of touching a floating invisible object. It's the next version of the Ultrahaptics system developed by University of Bristol scientists. The researchers track users hands over empty space with a Leap Motion controller, and have been able to give the sensation of basic shapes like spheres and pyramids. It's something they hope to combine with VR or projected hologram systems. (h/t BoingBoing) Tangentially related: this great animated infographic explaining how loudspeakers make sound.
We've been telling people that they should hold off on buying a 4K desktop monitor for a while. The first of these high-resolution monitors that went on sale over a year ago weren't great--they were inferior TN panels that ran at 30Hz at native resolution. But OEMs like Dell, Asus, and even Monoprice are iterating fast. Dell even has a 5K panel that's similar to the one in Apple's new iMac. This week, Dell announced two new 4K panels that are the first ones I'd consider getting. They're both 3840x2160 resolution panels, one at 24-inch and one at 27-inch, both priced under $700 (plus 10% off with a holiday promotion). And these monitors are 60Hz IPS displays with what Dell claims to be a wide color gamut (99% sRGB). $700 is still a lot to pay for a desktop monitor, but it's a lot less than the days when a 30-inch 1600p panel cost well over $1000. What's holding me back is how Windows would look on these screens at 100% DPI, or even scaled to 150%. Plus, physical screen size is a consideration, depending on how far your place your monitor from your face. Is this something you'd like to see us test?3
The top OEMs have now laid their cards on the table. All the major phones of late 2014 are available for purchase, and you've got some decisions to make. We won't see anymore big announcements until CES in January, but more likely February at Mobile World Congress. This is one of those rare times you can buy a phone and not immediately feel like you missed out when something better comes along two weeks later. But which one to get?
The Nexus 6 is big news this month, but a number of other phones still have a lot to offer.
If you're on AT&T, you've got a number of really good options. The Nexus 6 is certainly one of them, but it's a huge phone. There's also the much smaller Moto X and the somewhat smaller LG G3. Truly an embarrassment of riches.
Let's start with the LG G3 before we got to Motorola's offerings. At 5.5-inches, the LG G3 is a sizeable phone. That big LCD does come with an excellent 2560x1440 resolution. Surprisingly, LG manages to make the overall device not feel too huge. The bezels are incredibly thin and there are no buttons around the edges. Instead, LG stuck those on the back, and they're quite useful in that position. The back is smooth plastic, but it's not of the sketchy Samsung variety--it actually feels solid for a phone with a removable back.
The LG G3 is packing some impressive hardware even several months after launch including 3GB of RAM, a 3000mAh battery, a Snapdragon 801, and 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot. The device is fast, but probably not quite as snappy as the Moto X or Nexus 6. The battery life is very good, though. The high resolution of the G3 limits screen time to about 5 hours, but it can make it a few days in standby. The software is also very reliable in that it won't start wakelocking for no reason.
The G3's 13MP camera is the same resolution as the Moto X and the Nexus 6, but it's probably a little better than either in actual performance. Low-light shots are good and it focuses super-quick with the laser range-finder right next to the lens.
LG's Android skin has gotten surprisingly good in the last year. It's no longer just aping Samsung, and there aren't too many unnecessary additional features. The skin isn't very heavy and the choice of colors isn't nearly as garish as TouchWiz. The fact that LG is now finally using the proper on-screen buttons setup is hugely encouraging too. LG didn't load the G3 down with marginally useful features, instead sticking with a few good ones like guest mode and Knock Code. Knock Code is a particularly cool feature that lets you securely unlock the phone while also waking it up with a series of taps on the screen.
You may have seen those striking black and white photos of Adam, Will, and Norm in our studio set--those were taken by photographer Michael Shindler with a process called tintype. Michael is one of the few practicing tintype artists, and we visit his studio to finally have Jamie's tintype photo taken as well!
Will and Norm sit down to discuss the new Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, which is the first laptop we've seen to utilize Intel's Broadwell chipset. While more power efficient than the processor used in last year's Yoga and even the Surface Pro 3, the Core-M CPU here isn't without its compromises. Thinner and lighter doesn't always mean better!
Google's Nexus 9 is a big departure from past Android tablets in several ways, not least of which that it has a 4:3 aspect ratio. It's also a 64-bit tablet with a more premium price point. There's no followup to the 2013 Nexus 7 with its low price. A lot of the early reviews were mixed, but does the N9 seem better after a few updates? I've been living with the Nexus 9 as my main tablet for the last few weeks, so let's figure it out.
You've probably heard it said many times that the Nexus 9 bears a striking resemblance to a scaled up Nexus 5. Well, that's definitely true. The back is made of the same soft touch plastic as Google's 2013 flagship phone. The rim around the edge is made of aluminum, though. It seems like there's some variation in how that plastic back sits. Some units have a little bit off give as the plastic pops out from the frame in the middle. This isn't an issue in my unit, and I suspect it won't happen on newly manufactured tablets. Even in the worst cases, it doesn't seem like a structural issue, just annoying.
The buttons are positioned on the right side (in portrait mode) and they aren't awesome. I'm not sure why so many OEMs have trouble getting buttons right, but it happens all the time. The N9's buttons are mushy and have low travel. On some units, they are almost flush with the side of the tablet. Mine isn't that bad, all things considered. It could be better, though. It's sounding like newer tablets aren't suffering from this particular defect.
The question you have to ask is, does the Nexus 9 feel premium? The unsatisfying answer is "kind of." The device itself is solid and doesn't flex. It feels dense, but not too heavy. The buttons are definitely a sticking point and the back will be divisive. I really like soft touch surfaces, myself. I'll take a soft touch plastic device over metal any day--they're just easier to hold. It does get fingerprint-y, but that's the price you pay.
Google says the nexus 9 is 7.95mm thick, but I feel like that might be a tiny bit generous. It's still definitely under 10mm and it seems better balanced than most tablets. Overall, the Nexus 9 doesn't quite feel like a $399 tablet. That's not to say it feels lousy, or anything.
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com
If I wanted the cheapest good Wi-Fi router I could get, I would buy the TP-Link TL-WDR3600. It's a wireless-n router that costs $60 but outperforms some routers that cost twice as much. It took more than 150 hours of research and testing to find our pick. Of the 29 routers we looked at and the seven we tested, the TL-WDR3600 has the best performance for the lowest price.
The TP-Link TL-WDR3600 is a dual-band, two-stream router that's faster, more consistent, and has better range than other routers near its price range. Unlike many cheap routers, it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and it has Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 2.0 ports for sharing printers and storage with your network. It's a great upgrade from your ISP-provided router, and it supports a connection type that's six times as fast as wireless-g (the previous standard found in routers from 2007 or earlier).
Since the TL-WDR3600 is a wireless-n router, wireless-ac devices won't be as fast as they could be on a wireless-ac router. We don't think that's a dealbreaker yet. Wireless-ac only started showing up in high-end laptops, smartphones, and tablets in 2013. Wireless-n devices are still much more common. Wireless-ac devices work just fine with a wireless-n router, though. In our tests, the TL-WDR3600 even outperformed some more expensive wireless-ac routers at long range.
The TL-WDR3600 is easy to set up, but beyond that its user interface is complex and unintuitive. This is a common problem with TP-Link routers, but we think this router's performance and low price make it worth the hassle. At this price, performance is more important than an interface you'll rarely have to deal with. And if you can manage the interface, you'll find features common in more expensive routers, like parental controls, guest networks, and a DLNA server for streaming media.
As we're less than a month away from 2015, several tech companies are jumping on the opportunity to sell you the future--as benchmarked by Back to the Future Part II. VR video glasses and power-lacing shoes are right around the corner--promise! Even the hoverboard is being pushed as a real thing. I wouldn't hold my breath for it. But Boosted's electric skateboard, which I've been testing for the past few weeks, has done a better job than most gadgets in giving me a sense that the future is here. It's really fun to ride, and practical, too. I've been able to use it in lieu of driving for running errands in my neighborhood. And that's coming from someone who previously had never skateboarded.
As with all great modern technological innovations, Boosted's boards work because of a seamless pairing of hardware and software. You can't just strap an electric motor on a standard longboard and call it a day. Likewise, you can't strap a piece of wood on an RC car and expect to ride it. You have to meld them in a way that makes sense and with the fewest compromises (eg. adding weight). On the hardware side, it looks like Boosted wanted to made a product that would be familiar to longboard riders first. The deck is a pretty large longboard with good flex, mounted low on custom 180mm trucks and using 75mm Orangatang wheels. I'm not experienced enough to evaluate those properties, but my housemate--who's a very proficient longboarder--confirmed that these longboard components were solid and good enough for him to skate comfortably, even unpowered.
Boosted's proprietary drivetrain that powers the skateboard (they sent the new Boosted Dual+ model) runs on two brushless outrunner motors on either side of the rear wheels. The motors are 1000W each, which provides a lot of torque, enough to push the high-end model up to 22 miles per hour and up steep hills (>25% grade). I'll talk about how that affects performance in a bit. The system is powered by a large flat lithium battery mounted to the bottom of the board, which Boosted has rated for six miles of travel, depending on your weight and average speed. It's a tightly designed drivetrain that doesn't add to the profile of the board, and puts the whole thing at 15 pounds. Heavier than a normal longboard, but not so much that you can't carry it around in one hand or strapped to a bag.
Another challenge of designing a motorized longboard is making it feel intuitive for both the people who already know how to ride one and new users. A lot of that secret sauce is in the software and how Boosted has programmed their boards, so you don't always get the motor's full strength and so it has practical limits. To test the Boosted Dual+, I tried using it to learn longboarding, as well as handed it off to my housemate to see if it could replace his longboard.
We're not fans of most gift guides here on Tested. I like browsing through recommendations and year-end roundups posted by technology and collectible sites, but in many cases, the picks are of products that the writers haven't actually bought or used. Some read like wish lists and the worst read like advertorials. Likewise, we don't do a Black Friday or cyber monday roundups; other places (The Wirecutter, Gizmodo, etc) have more manpower and experience to do those guides properly. But that's not to say I didn't buy anything over the holiday weekend--far from it. As you maybe did, I kept an eye on deals and sales on some things I knew I wanted to buy and some products I didn't know I wanted--both for myself and for giftgiving (tip: a thoughtfully selected or crafted tree ornament makes a great gift). So here are five of the purchases I'm most pleased to have made on this Black Friday. What are some of the things you bought for yourself or friends? Share in the comments below!
I've been eyeing this set ever since I saw it at Comic-Con last summer--that's where the photo is from. Hot Toys makes incredibly detailed sixth-scale collectible figures, but they are typically very expensive. While I'll pre-order and pay for some in advance, the smarter thing to do is to wait until reviews of these figures come out and see what the hardcore collectors have to say about the sculpts and detail work in forums. Sideshowcollectors.com is where I hang out. This set didn't blow collectors away--some griped at the fabric of the costumes--so Sideshow has dropped the price of each significantly. With a 25% off sale, Batman is almost $80 off the MSRP. Batusi pose!
This backup drive wasn't The Wirecutter's favorite in their External Desktop Hard Drive roundup, but it came a close second to the Western Digital pick. And that was the 4TB model. Newegg (via Ebay) had the 5TB model for $130 over the weekend ($150 now), which made it a very easy buy for my media storage needs. I'm saving a lot more video these days shot with my DSLR for editing, and using a dedicated external USB 3.0 drive as a media repository and scratch disk is practical. Plus, I'm pretty sure I heard some dreaded disk clicking on my current 1.5TB Seagate drive--it's not long for this world. And if I'm not mistaken, backup services like Backblaze will also back up data stored on connected hard drives (as long as they're not network drives).
Many of you are traveling over the holidays, and have already experienced the dreaded delays and congestion at airports. Bad news: studies say it's going to get worse for the rest of the year as well. One area that passengers feel the most stress is plane boarding. This Vox video, based on a report they did earlier this year, explores the efficiencies of different boarding processes. The unfortunate thing is that the most efficient method isn't necessarily the one that people will want to use. Vox collaborated with combinatorial optimization researcher Menkes van den Briel to create the simulations for these tests. But if you want to see boarding simulations enacted with real people, Jamie and Adam did it a few months ago!
Before Apple announced its watch, I had its upcoming wearable pegged as an active wristband instead of a more traditional-looking smartwatch. That obviously didn't happen, but Sony is leading the charge with an active wristband idea in its FES Watch. This actually debuted back in September on a Japanese crowdfunding site under a fake company, Fashion Entertainments. But Sony admitted to be the ones behind the product, which they're hoping to sell next May. The minimalist watch uses a flexible e-ink display that wraps around the users wrist, and wearers can change its designs. Its functionality is mostly cosmetic--it doesn't connect to the internet or a smartphone--but battery life on the watch is supposedly 60 days. According to someone working on the project, Sony decided to test the concept under a fake company to gauge user interest. In the crowdfunding campaign, 150 users backed the watch for a price of around $200 dollars.
It's about time! Sorry for the lack of updates on the arcade cabinet project, but after a big delay with technical hurdles and busy schedules, Norm and Wes are back with some progress to report. Wiring and testing of the numerous control buttons continues, plus we turn our attention to the CRT monitor and setting it up to run properly on Windows.