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    How MegaBots Will Let You Build Your Own Giant Fighting Robot!

    MegaBots' creators want you to be able to one day build your own giant fighting robot. But how is that possible? Simone and Norm visit the MegaBots headquarters to learn how their latest prototype--now equipped with giant steel knives--is the next step to proving that the dream of making your own giant robot is real.

    Google Play App Roundup: Weather Wiz, Towaga, and Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed

    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.

    Weather Wiz

    Weather apps with a lot of data tend to be not very attractive, and apps with attractive design tend to be lacking in data. Weather Wiz seems like a good compromise between pretty and functional. It's also completely free, at least for now.

    Weather Wiz reminds me a little of the weather app HTC builds into its phone, but it has a lot more data and features than that app. In the main view, there's a temperature readout at the top along with some notes on the current conditions. At the bottom is an hourly forecast that can be scrolled through to see what's coming up in the future. I really appreciate having this data so easily accessible in the app.

    The animated background image on the main screen is controlled by the theme you've chosen. It will, of course, change based on the current conditions. This is where you'll encounter the upsell—some of these themes cost $0.99. There are about 12 themes right now, and five appear to be paid. They don't seem any better than the free ones, though. I'm particularly into the Material theme (right) and the space theme.

    If you scroll down from the main screen, you'll find all the other data in Weather Wiz. Oddly, you have to scroll from the bottom section with the temperature timeline. Swiping on the background doesn't work, which seems awkward and wrong. At any rate, the background is blurred as the new weather readings slide into view. You get more details about current conditions at the top, then as you scroll down there's a rundown of weather for tomorrow. Below that is a 10-day forecast. At the very bottom is a cool sunrise/sunset graphic.

    Weather radar is accessible from the navigation menu, and it'll get the job done. It is very pretty with animated wind patterns, but there's no true animations for radar changes over time. The accuracy of the precipitation (the most important radar use case, I think) seems lacking. This data comes from a third-party, so this isn't necessarily the developer's fault.

    Lastly, there's a full suite of widgets for Weather Wiz that are mostly very good. There are several different sizes, and each theme has its own backgrounds for them. However, you can also use the more generic stock ones if you like. There's an add that pops up when you add a widget, but after you've cleared it, you won't see it again until you add another Weather Wiz widget. Overall, I think this is a great weather app with a not too annoying monetization setup.

    Meet the Picobrew Home Beer Brewing Machine

    We check out the Picobrew system, a home beer brewing machine that lets you make 5 liter batches of beer in your own kitchen with an automated brewing system. We chat with Picobrew's co-founder about the process of home brewing and how users can make their own beer recipes.

    What You Should Know about Nintendo Switch

    Back in October, Nintendo released a three and a half minute video showing off their new hybrid console, the Switch, but were scant on details. In Nintendo's first live press conference in years they announced the release date, March 3rd, price, $300, and much more.

    In what was undoubtedly a very Japanese presentation, for better and worse, Nintendo's President Tatsumi Kimishima, Producer Yoshiaki Koizumi, and a few others shared more details on Nintendo's latest hardware. In the box you'll get the Switch console, two Joy-Con controllers in either grey or Neon Blue (left) and Neon Red (right), the TV dock, the Joy-Con grip, two straps for the Joy-Con controllers, an AC adapter, and an HDMI cable.

    The Switch has a battery life range of 2.5 hours to 6.5 hours, depending on what you're doing. If you're playing Zelda on the go it'll be about 3 hours. Thankfully there is a USB-C port on the bottom, so you can plug in a portable battery pack for more juice. The 6.2 inch 1280x720 screen of the Switch is capacitive, but nothing was said about how it can be used. It also has 32GB of built in storage and a slot for microSDXC cards.

    Nintendo will sell additional Joy-Con controllers at $80 for a pair, or $50 individually. Another Joy-Con grip can be had for $30, and the new Pro Controller will run you $70. Ouch.

    Hands-On: Ossic X VR Headphones

    We try on the Ossic X 3D headphones, which were designed for use with virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive. Chatting with an Ossic rep, we learn how these headphones could be used to enhance both VR and music listening experiences.

    First Look at the $5000 Muse Hobby Laser Cutter

    We check out the Muse, Full Spectrum's hobby-class laser cutter priced at $5000. It's a 45 watt CO2 laser that aims to compete with other emerging hobby cutters made to run in the home garage or workshop. We learn about the features, interface, and expected usage lifespan of this laser cutter that's shipping today.

    Meet Justin Lewis, Pilot of the World’s Smallest Jet

    The BD-5 series of unbelievably-tiny, high-performance airplanes is a study in stark contrasts. Originally conceived by entrepreneurial engineer Jim Bede during the homebuilt airplane craze of the late 1960's, the BD-5 was intended to be easy to afford, easy to build, and easy to fly. The product that Bede ultimately delivered checked none of those boxes. The original propeller-driven BD-5 was among the best-selling aircraft kits ever produced, yet only a small percentage has ever been completed and flown. Thanks to appearances in the movie Octopussy, and numerous high-profile marketing campaigns, the jet-powered BD-5J was a wildly-popular cultural icon during the 1980's. The airplane's fame, however, could almost be considered posthumous. Bede Aircraft Company had already gone belly-up and most BD-5 kits languished in dark corners of hangars, garages, and barns…abandoned by owners who were unable to build them or too scared to fly them.

    The story of the BD-5 is not over just yet. In spite of its sketchy past, the airplane's fighter-like appearance and bantam size still attract budget-minded pilots with a speed jones. One of those pilots is Justin Lewis. Actually, Lewis's involvement with the BD-5J goes several steps deeper than just ownership. He helped to develop a substantially improved and modernized variant of the tiny jet. When he is not test flying recently-completed airframes or checking out aspiring mini-jet pilots, Lewis and his pint-sized ride can be seen performing at airshows or lurking on military radar screens.

    I recently talked with Justin to find out more about his airplane and what it is like to fly it.

    First Look at Dell's Canvas 27-Inch Display

    We get up close to Dell's Canvas, a 27-inch touchscreen and Wacom-pen enabled display that's meant to be used in place of your desktop keyboard. Here's how Dell expects artists to use the device in Windows 10, how it works with their rotating dial, and why they think it's different than a Wacom Cintiq.

    Quick Look at Dell's 8K Desktop Monitor

    Here's a really quick look at Dell's 32-inch 8K desktop monitor. It's difficult to do the screen resolution justice in a video, but here's how tiny Windows' Start Menu looks at 100% desktop scaling on this $5000 display!

    Hands-On: TPCast Wireless VR for HTC Vive

    We go hands-on with TPCast, the wireless upgrade accessory for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. Here are our early impressions, along with insight learned about the device's wireless range, ergonomics, and expected battery life from TPCast's co-founder. This might have been our favorite thing at CES 2017!

    Hands-On: HTC Vive Tracker and Deluxe Audio Strap

    We go hands-on with HTC's new Vive Tracker, which allows developers to make positionally-tracked wireless accessories for Virtual Reality. We test tracked rifles, baseball bats, and even a firehose. Plus, we put on HTC's new Deluxe Audio Strap, which makes the Vive much more comfortable to wear.

    Tested: Tactic Wrist Monitor for FPV Systems

    I love interesting gadgets and the Tactic FPV Wrist Monitor ($50) certainly qualifies. It looks like a smart watch, or maybe something Dick Tracy would wear. When you flip out the folding antenna, it's easy to imagine that you're a high-tech spy sending an urgent status update to your secret underground headquarters. The actual functionality of the wrist monitor isn't so clandestine. Its primary function is to receive and display video signals from RC models with a FPV system.

    The Tactic FPV Wrist Monitor integrates a 2" screen and 5.8GHz receiver into a tiny wearable package. What applications can you think of?

    What It Is

    The heart of the wrist monitor is a 2" (51mm) LCD screen. It displays in full color with a resolution of 480x240. Overall dimensions of the monitor housing are 2.2" x 1.9" x .5" (56 x 49 x 12mm). Weight with the wrist band is 2.2 ounces (61.5g).

    The unit has an integrated 5.8GHz receiver with the aforementioned folding antenna. Most FPV activities currently use 5.8GHz signals, so there are plenty of compatible video transmitters available. The receiver can pick up 32 different channels divided among 4 bands (A, B, E, and F). A button on the side of the monitor allows you to choose your desired band and channel. There is no provision to input a wired video signal. Nor can you record or export the receiver's feed.

    Its primary function is to receive and display video signals from RC models with a FPV system.

    A built-in 300mAh LiPo battery provides power for the monitor. A full charge will provide about an hour of operation. Unfortunately, there is no battery status indicator anywhere. You'll know the battery is dead when the monitor shuts itself off. The battery is charged via a micro-USB port.

    The included wrist band is a simple rubber unit with a metal buckle. Like the footprint of the monitor itself, the band is wide and beefy. The band is obviously sized for larger wrists. I think I'm an average guy I use one of the smallest settings on the band. Anyone with smaller wrists may have trouble getting a comfortable fit. Even if you poke extra holes in the band, the girth of the monitor could become a factor at some point.

    Razer's "Project Valerie" 3-Screen Gaming Laptop Prototype

    We check out Razer's Project Valerie, a concept gaming laptop that has three 17-inch 4K screens built into its chassis. Running an Nvidia GTX 1080, we see Battlefield One running across all three displays and chat with Razer about why they built this insane prototype.

    Google Play App Roundup: Stringify, Road Not Taken, and War Commander: Rogue Assault

    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.


    Many of us have ended up with various smart internet-connected things. Cameras, lights, and of course our smartphones. There are a number of services that tie these things together, but Stringify is a new take on this with a more visual and potentially powerful approach. Simply link up your services and start playing around.

    If you've used something like IFTTT or Tasker, you'll be able to figure out Stringify pretty fast. It's sort of a combination of those two (although it can actually plug into IFTTT as well). Stringify uses "flows" to control your devices and services. You can use one of the flows from the starter pack to get familiar with the process, but ideally you will want to create new flows based on the things you have.

    I've been playing around with Stringify and my Arlo home security cameras. In a few minutes I was able to create flows to arm and disarm the cameras based on my location and manually trigger a video recording when I tap a special Stringify button. One thing that really sets Stringify apart from services like IFTTT is that it can have multiple triggers and actions, and they're pretty easy to follow with the flowchart setup process. IFTTT by comparison only allows a single trigger and action. You can even plug into IFTTT to integrate recipes within your flows.

    To create flows, you pick the services you want to use, and drop them on the provided grid of circles. There are plenty of built-in triggers like time, location, and so on. The ones needing configuration have gear icons to let you know. After all your icons are set up, you can drag between them to create the flow. I've found Stringify to be very reliable, but there are still some bugs. A few services are also unsupported in the Android client. Not surprising as this is a beta app. If you choose to use a button trigger in Stringify, you can access those from the app's control center. Although, I've had trouble getting the home screen widget version working.

    Despite the issues with this early build, Stringify is something you should keep an eye on. It could potentially be a very powerful automation app.

    The Best Unlocked and Carrier Android Smartphone (January 2017)

    It's a new year, so maybe that means it's time for a new phone too? If you've got some cash left over after the holiday season and are looking for a new Android phone, you don't want to drop that cash on something you'll end up hating. That's where Tested comes in. We're here to give you the lay of the land so you can get the best Android phone. This month, the selection of phones is stable, but the software situation is changing.

    Carrier phones

    If you're going through your carrier, you can take advantage of all the payment plans and other enticements, so it's an understandable option. That does limit your phone choices a bit, and the device will usually be locked (or at least band-customized) for that carrier. There are a few solid options, the most notable of which is the Galaxy S7. Although, the LG V20 isn't a bad choice, and the Pixel is technically available on Verizon. I'll get to that later, but first, the GS7.

    The Galaxy S7 has a number of good selling points that I'll get into in detail, but probably the best are the overall design and the display. The GS7 (and especially the Edge) are solid phones. 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 comfortable to hold.

    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 with a screen that 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.

    This phone is slightly thicker than Samsung's 2015 flagship, allowing for a reasonably large battery (relative to size). The GS7 has a 3000mAh battery and the GS7 Edge has 3600mA. In both cases, these cells perform very well. Both phones support Quick Charge 2.0 and wireless charging, but they have microUSB ports. 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. That's why the battery is so impressive. There are no issues with multitasking thanks to the 4GB of RAM, though.

    Google Play App Roundup: Screens, Ookujira, and Empty

    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.


    Android 7.0 added support for split-screen apps in the core of Android, meaning all those janky OEM implementations can go the way of the dodo. This also opens developers up to play around with the feature, and maybe even improve it. Screens is an attempt to do just that. It lets you create shortcuts that launch multi-window mode with a predetermined pair of apps.

    Setup for Screens requires only one trip into the settings, and you don't need root or anything fancy like that. All this app needs it access to Accessibility controls. It's basically launching apps and triggering split-screen mode automatically.

    To create shortcuts, just open the Screens interface and pick a name for your shortcut and the two apps you want to open. Note which one is on the top and which is on the top and which is on the bottom—that's the orientation they'll show up in when you launch the app. If you have a device in landscape mode, the "top" position is on the right side of the display.

    The shortcut on your home screen can be moved around like any other, and launching is fast. You'll probably see the very basic Screens UI flash for a split second, then your chosen apps will appear. It's a good idea to make sure the apps you've chosen will actually open in split-screen. Some developers specifically disallow that because it breaks something. However, the apps don't have to be running in the background to launch in split-screen via Screens.

    The app is free and it definitely does what it claims to without trouble. I'd still like to see a few more niceties added. For example, a way to edit previously created shortcuts or custom icon support. Sprucing up the app's interface might be a smart too. Still, it could be a really useful app for anyone who uses the feature on Nougat.

    Hopes and Fears for Google Android in 2017

    This last year was a big deal for Android. Google made substantial changes to its product lineup, took a timeout on smartwatches, and was silent on the topic of tablets. What's going to happen in 2016? I can't know for sure, but I know what my hopes and fears for Android in 2017 are. There are many of them.

    Android Wear

    I personally like smartwatches, but I'm fully cognizant that my job is basically to be a giant nerd. For regular people, smartwatches have yet to catch on. Android Wear is in an interesting place because Google relies upon its OEM partners to make and sell the hardware. It just handles the core software development. In 2016, the number of new smartwatches dropped off and Google had to take a bogie on the big Android Wear 2.0. Needless to say, I'm worried for Android Wear in 2017.

    Motorola and Huawei skipped launching new Wear devices in 2016, and Motorola confirmed it's not even developing more watches. Meanwhile, Google had to delays the release of Android Wear 2.0 when feedback on the developer preview was, to put it kindly, terrible. It's now expected to launch in early 2017. That's not all, though. Google is also releasing new flagship watches.

    The word on Google's Wear 2.0 watches came from Google's Android Wear product manager Jeff Chang. There will be two of them that run Android Wear 2.0 out of the box, They'll be the first devices to run the new software, and they'll be sold directly by Google. However, the OEMs branding will still be present. These won't be "Pixel" devices.

    This is probably the last shot Android Wear has in its current state. We'll know by around the middle of 2017 if Wear is taking off. If it doesn't I feel like Google is going to have to go back to the drawing board to come at wearables from a different direction.