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Saying goodbye to Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead’

"We need to go deeper."

In my playthrough, at least, AJ never became a pacifist or an unhinged death machine. He once said that he "liked" killing someone, but that was about it. Clementine was clearly shocked but managed to explain the nuances of when and why it's okay to kill someone in this strange new world. After that, he seemed to calm down and find his humanity again.

For now, it's impossible to know what, if anything,was lost in the shift from Telltale to Skybound Games. The script and general story beats probably stayed the same -- the achievement/trophy list and associated names were never altered, for instance. Individual scenes could have been condensed, however, or simplified to ease production in the latter stages.

Ultimately, I can only judge what I've had the chance to play. The episodes are polished but occasionally uneven, with stiff animations and a couple of jarring scene transitions. The structure of the finale is particularly odd, with a sudden climax at the end of the first act and an intriguing but ultimately unnecessary flashback in the middle. It's a personal opinion, but I also wish the developers had saved Clementine's conversation with Lee for the finale rather than episode three. The series started with Lee, and it would have been fitting to hear his voice closer to the end credits.

I won't spoil the ending here. The final twist is controversial, though, and asks the player to believe an unlikely (yes, even by Walking Dead standards) chain of events. Regardless, I'm glad the ending exists for people like me who have stuck with the series through its many highs and lows. It's not a perfect send-off, but it's better than a half-finished season.

James is able to move and hide within 'herds' of walkers.

Senior Editor

Telltale's Walking Dead series was a narrative awakening for me when it debuted in 2012. I've been gaming since I was five, but I missed out on the heyday of PC adventure titles. So The Walking Dead's combination of well-written interactive storytelling, cinematic style and compelling player choices felt completely fresh and exciting. It was the stepping stone that Telltale's quick ascent was built on -- and something that inspired other developers to explore similar titles, like Square Enix's excellentLife is Strange.

It's just a shame the developer couldn't keep up. When Telltale abruptly shut down last September, I was profoundly disgusted with how it treated its employees -- so much so, that I didn't have much interest in finishing The Walking Dead's final season. I loved the first episode, but I was perfectly fine with letting its cliffhanger be my last memory of the series. When Skybound announced it was willing to complete the season by bringing over some Telltale workers, I was moved by their devotion to Clementine. After being unceremoniously laid off, the former Telltale employees would be well within their rights to move on to other projects. But they stuck around to finish Clementine's story properly -- they were as committed to the character as I was.

Every decision I make for Clementine feels like something I'd tell my daughter in a few years.

Coming back to The Walking Dead after several months was a bit of a trip. I played the first episode a month before my daughter Sophia was born, and I found it to be an intriguing exploration of how you'd raise a child during the zombie apocalypse. Now, six months later, and fully committed to diaper-changing dad life, I'm looking at the series through fresh eyes. Every decision I make for Clementine feels like something I'd tell my daughter in a few years. I want her to be strong, but not cruel. Wise, but not a know-it-all. If I could manage it in this game, surely I could handle it in the real world.

More than ever, I just want Clementine and her young charge, AJ, to be happy. But this being The Walking Dead, that never lasts too long. I know how this works -- I'm fully prepared for this season to break my heart eventually. I just hope Clementine finds some sort of peace.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/telltale-the-walking-dead-finale/

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Google Photos makes it easier to take clear pictures of receipts

The feature is pretty similar to other suggested actions in Google Photos. Take a picture and the platform will recognize it as a document, offering a "Crop adjust" option underneath it. This opens up a new editing interface optimized for documents, automatically cropping the picture to remove the background, clean up edges and improve readability.

We've seen this kind of functionality before in Microsoft's Office Lens, but it's useful to have this feature right in Google Photos, especially since an increasing number of budgeting and money-management apps rely on quick snaps of receipts. "Crop adjust" rolls out to Android devices this week.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/google-photos-clear-pictures-receipts-crop-adjust-documents/

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Sinemia offers more details on why it has been terminating accounts

Sinemia says this is part of its stance against fraud. "This kind of vigilance helps us combat misuse, ensuring all our customers continue to enjoy movies at affordable and sustainable prices," the company said in a press release. Supposedly, the company only terminated "a small number" of accounts, about three percent. The explanation probably won't make customers who have been cut off feel any better, and this month's debacle only reminded us of issues the company has run into in the past.

Along with this update, Sinemia launched another new ticket plan. For $14.99 per month, this "Always Unlimited" plan will let subscribers see one 2D movie per day, with no restrictions on showtimes. It offers a "level of flexibility competitors can't match" a company spokesperson said. We'll see if Sinemia's approach -- which seems to be a never-ending stream of new ticket plans -- will be enough to win back customer trust.

The list of actions that can get you booted from Sinemia are below:

  • Unauthorized use of the Sinemia card/cardless outside of its intended purposes, resulting in fraudulent financial activity. For example, this could be purchasing concessions at the theater instead of a movie ticket.
  • Using multiple Sinemia accounts on the same device.
  • Not checking in at the theater before or after your movie.
  • Seeing the same movie more than three times.
  • Creating multiple Sinemia accounts for the same person.
  • Sharing one's Sinemia membership to buy tickets for other people. This includes not only people buying tickets and selling to others but also people sharing their own tickets with friends and family members.
  • Manipulation of location data resulting in deceptive ticket purchases. For example, faking GPS data on a phone.
  • Reasonable suspicion of fraud and/or abuse.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/sinema-terminated-accounts-fraud-misuse/

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The best home printers

The best all-around home printer: Inkjet all-in-one

Who this is for: Families—particularly those with school-age kids—or anyone who needs a machine that can reliably do it all.

Why we like it: HP's OfficeJet Pro 8720 is one of the least annoying printers we've ever used, thanks to its straightforward setup, reliable Wi-Fi, smooth touchscreen interface, and well-designed software. It can print from pretty much any device you can think of, because it works with Windows, MacOS, Linux, ChromeOS, iOS, and Android. In our testing for the best all-in-one printer, we found that this model delivers great-looking color prints and sharp text. Because it's an all-in-one machine, it can print, scan, and copy two-sided, and does so at a rapid clip. It will even send faxes, if that's still something you need to do.

The HP's up-front cost is reasonable for this sort of machine, and operating costs are low: under 2¢ per page for black-and-white and under 10¢ per page for color. This model can also take advantage of HP's unique Instant Ink program, which is a great option if you print a lot of full-color pages or glossy photos. We also love the 8720 model's design; its recessed output tray, which keeps your printed pages from getting knocked to the floor, is a stroke of ergonomic genius.

With the output tray neatly placed behind the OfficeJet Pro 8720 printer's touchscreen, your documents won't fall onto your desk or floor after you've printed them. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because it's an inkjet printer, the 8720 can clog if it's left unused for too long, so an inkjet may not be best for you if you don't print often. (Fixing a clog requires wasteful cycles that deplete your ink tanks.) Laser printers don't have this issue, but a laser all-in-one that can print in color costs about twice as much up front. The 8720 is also not the most versatile machine when it comes to handling nonstandard printing media. For example, you have to take out your letter paper and adjust the guides each time you want to print on envelopes or labels, because this printer has neither a secondary paper tray nor a bypass slot—features common to more professional (and more expensive) machines. Last, the front USB port is convenient for printing photos and saving scans, but won't let you print PDFs or Word files; to get that capability, you need to upgrade to a more expensive model.

Dimensions: 19.7 by 20.9 by 13.4 inches

Weight: 33.02 pounds

Pages per minute (stated, monochrome/color): 24/20

Cost per page (monochrome/color): 1.9¢/9.7¢

Learn more in our full guide to the best all-in-one printer.

A home office powerhouse: Color laser printer

Who this is for: Home- and small-business owners, or people who simply don't want to deal with the clogs that can plague inkjets.

Why we like it: The HP Color LaserJet Pro M254dw is our pick for the best laser printer because it's easy to use, produces brilliant results, and enjoys laser printing technology's superior reliability. No matter how long you leave it sitting unused, you can turn it on and it'll start printing more or less right away—and without wasting any toner on cleaning cycles. Though it's more expensive than a comparable monochrome laser printer, it's also far more flexible. In addition to crisp text, it produces vivid color graphics and can even turn out respectable photos (just not on photo paper). Print speeds are quick, and per-page costs are reasonable. This model's smartphone-style color touchscreen makes changing settings simple, and HP's PC and mobile software is the best in the business. Unlike most other printers, the M254dw can connect to 5 GHz wireless, which should speed up big print jobs and helps ensure that the printer won't lose connection over time.

If you print on envelopes or labels often, you'll appreciate the M254dw model's single-feed bypass slot for odd-sized media. Photo: Rozette Rago

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The M254dw can take a minute or two to get going for very large print jobs. We saw this issue only once during testing, but several owners have reported it in reviews. Because this printer comes with a skimpy set of "starter" toner that's good for only 800 black-and-white and 700 color pages, you'll probably need to buy replacements within a year or so of purchase. Getting cartridges with the highest possible capacity makes the best financial sense, but a full set for this machine will cost around $400, or nearly twice as much as the machine itself. Thanks to all that toner, this printer is big (long, in particular) and heavy; make sure you have a space that can accommodate it. And, of course, the M254dw is just a printer—it doesn't include copy, scan, or fax capability. To get those features, you'll need to upgrade to a model like our color laser all-in-one pick.

Dimensions: 15.4 by 18.7 by 11.7 inches

Weight: 32.6 pounds

Pages per minute (stated, monochrome/color): 22/22

Cost per page (monochrome/color): 3¢/15¢

Learn more in our full guide to the best laser printer.

Affordable and reliable: Monochrome laser printer

Who this is for: People who don't need a printer on a daily basis, but still appreciate having one for the few times a year when they need to print.

Why we like it: The Brother HL-L2350DW is simple, fast, dependable, easy to set up, and affordable to operate. And because it's a laser printer, it can sit for weeks or months between print jobs and start up again without trouble. But although it's a budget model, it's not short on features. For the $100-ish asking price, you get automatic duplex printing capability, a large 250-sheet paper tray, reliable Wi-Fi connectivity, and the option to use high-yield toner cartridges—which means you don't have to buy them very often. This printer works with Windows, MacOS, Linux, ChromeOS, iOS, and Android. As for print quality, in our testing to choose the best laser printer, we found that this model is more than good enough for any text-based document, but it might need a few settings tweaks to produce a graphics-heavy document you'd want to hand out to other people. It's also extremely compact, which means it can fit in tight spaces (like a bookcase shelf) where other printers can't go.

At just a hair over 7 inches tall, the HL-L2350DW is extremely compact, so it can fit in places other printers can't. Photo: Rozette Rago

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It's a little flimsy and the packaging isn't great, so if you buy one, be sure to check for any plastic parts that might have gotten bumped out of place in transit. We don't recommend printing via Brother's iPrintScan software, because it results in excessive, detail-destroying contrast. And if you use a Chromebook, you should be aware that the printer's default settings might prevent it from working with Google Cloud Print; to get it working, you need to disable IPv6 in the Networking section of the printer's Web control panel.

Dimensions: 14.0 by 7.2 by 14.2 inches

Weight: 15.9 pounds

Pages per minute (stated): 32

Cost per page: 3.3¢

Learn more in our full guide to the best laser printer.

Gallery-worthy prints at home: Photo printer

Who this is for: Serious photographers, or those who aspire to be.

Why we like it: The Epson SureColor P600 is capable of delivering gallery-quality prints up to 13 inches wide, and can print panoramas up to 10 feet long. It can also print on a huge variety of media, including metal and CDs. Though its color photos caught our eye while testing for the best photo printer, we especially loved the black-and-white output; it's as close as you can get to traditional darkroom prints at home. Those prints will last you a long time, too: the P600's UltraChrome HD pigment ink is one of the longest-lasting consumer inks. The touchscreen interface is a cut above what you'd get from most rivals. Ink costs are reasonable, and you can get extra-large-capacity tanks, so you'll need to fill up less often. In addition to Wi-Fi, this printer has USB and Ethernet connections for faster printing.

The Epson SureColor P600 makes photos that will last the rest of your life (and then some) if displayed in a UV-protective frame or stored in a photo album. Photo: Amadou Diallo

Flaws but not dealbreakers: As with most photo printers, print speeds are glacial—a standard 8-by-10-inch photo takes more than 3 minutes to print, and that time balloons to almost 6 minutes over Wi-Fi. This printer wastes ink when switching between matte and photo black inks (about 3 mL each time), because they share the same ink line to the print head. And if you use paper other than Epson's own, you'll have to seek out the appropriate media settings and ICC color profiles; frustratingly, Epson doesn't include them.

Dimensions: 24.2 by 32 by 16.7 inches

Weight: 33.07 pounds

Cost per mL of ink: $1.24

Learn more in our full guide to the best photo printer.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

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Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/the-best-home-printers/

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Google Store lists unannounced ‘Nest Hub Max’ 10-inch smart display

It seems weird that Google would reuse the Max branding from its premium speaker for a Nest device, but now that we've heard "Stadia" it's hard to put anything past them. 9to5Google previously found clues of a "Sherlock" device that matches up well with its capabilities, so it could be close to release, even without any picture, or mention of a price or release date.

The specs make this seem pretty real, as they don't match up with Google's own 7-inch Home Hub that doesn't have a camera. It also makes sense that Nest would build a relevant device in the category that's more tightly tied to its existing line of smart home products including security cameras, thermostats and more. While dropping the camera makes the Home Hub more appealing for privacy reasons, someone looking to put a Nest in a highly-trafficked area of their house wouldn't have the same concerns and can kill two birds with one stone.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/nest-hub-max-leak/

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Facebook COO says it’s ‘exploring’ restrictions on who can go live

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg took to the Instagram blog this evening saying "We have heard feedback that we must do more – and we agree" (the post was also published as an op-ed in the New Zealand Herald). Despite the lack of credibility big tech companies have when it comes to dealing with dangerous hate groups, the post's title claims "We Can Win Against Hate."

Specifically citing the mass shooting in Christchurch New Zealand, Sandberg revealed that it identified more than 900 videos showing portions of the shooter's original 17-minute Facebook Live broadcast. As a result, it's making an unspecified investment in research to identify these edited versions of violent videos and block them.

More important, however, is news that the company is "exploring" restrictions on who can go Live. Coming nearly two years after a murderer in Cleveland broadcast his crime on a Facebook live stream, it seems horrifically late to start thinking about adding rules now. Still, even with a long list of incidents, all Sandberg could say is that potential restrictions could happen "depending on factors such as prior Community Standard violations."

It's also updated the review process to respond more quickly on similar videos in the future, and listed ways it's supporting people in New Zealand via local organizations and the government.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/sheryl-sandberg-facebook-live/

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Valve’s ‘Index’ VR headset is coming in May

While Valve worked closely for years with HTC on Vive VR hardware, it's about to introduce a virtual reality headset of its own. A teaser page on the Steam website shows off this image of the Index, with the tagline "Upgrade your experience" and a May 2019 date. This occurs despite layoffs of some employees on its hardware team, which Valve said would not mean major changes to its plans.

The development of Steam VR gives some ideas of what Valve would like to do, but there are no details or specs on the Index itself. Hints of the device have appeared with trademark filings and even a logo, but we don't even know if it will use the "Knuckles" finger tracking controllers we've seen from Valve a few times over the years. Whatever it is, we'll know more about how it competes with Oculus, HTC and the rest very soon.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/virtual-reality-index-valve/

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ESPN’s college esports show debuts tonight at 9 PM ET

The line between esports and other competitions continues to blur, and the latest sign is a new show from ESPN that's about to air. College Esports Championship: Countdown will run every week, starting tonight at 9 PM ET. It's all leading up to the very first ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship (CEC) in May, as various schools compete in Overwatch, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm. Viewers can watch on ESPN3, as well as Twitch, YouTube and Twitter.

The show will be hosted by Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez and LeTigress, as they cover the week's collegiate esports action and its growing presence on campuses. It's not quite the March Madness you're used to, but who knows, maybe one day students will be standing behind esports commentators holding weird signs supporting their university. A YouTube stream for the show is embedded below.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/college-esports-championship-countdown/

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DC Universe offers access to DC’s full library of digital comics

There's news for those who prefer moving pictures as well. Its live action take on Swamp Thing is now set to premiere on May 31st, while the animated Harley Quinn debuts sometime in the fall alongside the second season of Titans. The drama Krypton launches on April 5th ahead of its summer release on Syfy, and the next portion of Young Justice: Outsiders continues on July 2nd. You'll have to wait a bit longer for more, though, as the live action show Stargirl doesn't appear until early 2020.

Between the expanded comic access and a string of recent freebies, it's evident that DC is determined to attract subscribers however it can. That's not necessarily a sign of trouble, although it doesn't look great. Still, it's good news if you're an enthusiast. You now have a solid reason to shell out for DC Universe even if you're only interested in the literature.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/29/dc-universe-offers-access-to-whole-comic-library/

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Sega Genesis Mini will launch on September 19th with 40 games

Like the PlayStation Mini, this one is powered by microUSB, and has an HDMI output capable of up to 720p resolution. The controller is the six-button version of the Genesis gamepad that most players preferred. It also supports saving anywhere within a game, which Sega said might make it easier for certain titles you never finished back in the 90s. Sega's M2 is making the software for the system, which is a change that cuased the delay as Sega brought development of its retro console in-house.

There is a reset button, but it doesn't work the same as it did on the original system. Also, like other retros, it doesn't seem like there's any support for downloads and obviously no cartridge slot like the Analogue SG. There's no pricing yet for the US, but in Japan it will cost 6,980 yen (about $60) with one controller, or 8,980 yen (about $80) with two.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/30/genesis-mini-release-date-sonic-2/

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