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1 week ago

The Best PlayStation Exclusives

20

Best Horror

Until Dawn

See at PlayStattion Store

Until Dawn doesn't necessarily play like most horror games. Instead of immediately waking up in the middle of a bloody disaster, or in an empty town, it takes a more cinematic route. You play as five friends returning to the same mountain lodge where two of their friends disappeared into the mountains the year previous.

During your night on the mountain you'll have to deal with someone else who has followed you up there, along with something that has been living on the mountain for a very long time. Until Dawn doesn't have you constantly shooting, but the gameplay is directly based upon the choices that you make. While it's entirely possibly to make it to Dawn with everyone in your party, you'll have to be smart, fast, and ready to survive in order to pull it off.

Bottom line: Until Dawn is a fun thriller that brings a horror movie to life on your game screen. It's got tons of potential for replay, and will keep you on your toes as you attempt to survive the night.

One more thing: You'll probably have to play through the entirety of the game at least twice before being able to get every character safely to Dawn, but it is entirely possible.

Best puzzle game

The Last Guardian

See at PlayStation Store

Puzzle games on next generation consoles have become a somewhat rare genre. The Last Guardian aims to break that cycle. The follow up to PlayStation 2 classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian has you playing a small boy who stumbled upon a wounded beast called Trico, while lost in crumbling ruins. The aim of the game is to get Trico up to the top of the ruins where presumably more of his feathered friends are hiding out.

You'll have to explore the environment by climbing and crawling around, as well as occasionally snagging a ride from Trico to get from area to area. You'll find crates of butterflies to feed your furry winged dragon friend, and occasionally have to hide and let Trico fight the armored up blue-eyed guardians of the ruins. The puzzles — as mind bending as they are — actually play second fiddle to the story which is told mostly through the gameplay itself. It's a visually beautiful game that will capture your attention almost immediately.

Bottom line: The Last Guardian is a gorgeous and fun puzzle game interlaced with a beautiful story sure to captivate you in the process.

One more thing: One of the flaws in The Last Guardian are the camera angles. They can be seriously terrible, and might make you want to give up on the game, but it's worth it to power through.

Best Action

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

See at PlayStation Store

The Uncharted series has long be a mainstay when it comes to PlayStation exclusive games. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End continues in that tradition. Combining exploring ancient ruins, shooting down enemies, and a story following Nathan Drake's quest to reunite with his long lost brother, this is an excellent follow up to the original trilogy.

Drake returns in excellent fashion, and he isn't alone either. You'll run into a cast of characters that are mighty familiar if you've played the original Uncharted Trilogy. If you're new to the series, it gives you enough details to keep you in the loop with what has happened thus far.

Bottom line: Uncharted 4 is an excellent game if you like the adventure genre. Finding artifacts, running through ruins around the world, and neatly tying up the story of Nathan Drake in a bow.

One more thing: This is the last game inside of the Uncharted Universe, so it's definitely worth giving a shot.

Best Story

Last of Us Remastered

See at PlayStation Store

The Last of Us is one of those break out titles that makes you want to immediately purchase a PlayStation console in order to play. While it originally debuted on PlayStation 3, the Remastered version came out specifically for PlayStation 4 and includes the Left Behind DLC. While this is at its core a combination of horror and action, the real gem of this game is this story.

The Last of Us takes place decades after a fungal infection has basically destroyed the world and sent mankind running. When a girl who might have the ability to help create a vaccine appears, Joel goes out of his way to get her to the resistance fighters. This means fighting through swarms of zombies, exploring ruined cities, dealing with cannibalistic human hunters, and plenty more. I could easily wax poetic on this game for hours, because it really is just that good.

Bottom line: The Last of Us Remastered brings an excellent game that will draw you in and capture you almost effortlessly. The story of Joel and Ellie as they fight towards their destination is one that definitely should not be missed.

One more thing: Last of Us Remastered includes a Game+ mode which allows you to replay the game with all of the upgrades you have crafted during your first play through.

Conclusion

There are plenty of exclusive games on PlayStation, and these are just some of the best. As we move forward there are more excellent exclusives coming to the fore. As you begin to explore these games and the many others that can only be played on PlayStation there will be laughs, tears, and furious curses waiting for you. Is there a PlayStation exclusive that should have made our list? Are any of your favorites here? Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know about it!

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1 week ago

Hail to the Chief with these Presidential wallpapers

34

Presidents Day is about more than selling mattresses.

Though it may be called different things around the country, Presidents Day is a celebration of our nation's founder George Washington and the Presidents that have followed in his footsteps. It is a day to brush up on our history, a day to celebrate our unique American experience... and yeah, it's another excuse for car dealerships and mattress stores to push some product the American capitalist way. In the spirit of showing what it means to be "presidential", here's some stylish and patriotic wallpapers for your devices.

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1 week ago

Rogers is now selling the 'Really Blue' Google Pixel

10

The Google Pixel returns to Canada.

It took a few months, but the most striking colo(u)r of the Google Pixel is now available in Canada.

Available for pre-order at Rogers, the country's largest carrier, the 'Really Blue' Google Pixel costs the same as its black and white counterparts — $199 on a 2-year Premium+ Share Everything plan and $899 outright — but Google is throwing in a $100 Google Store gift card for good measure. And, for better measure, it's offering the Daydream VR headset for just $29 with each signup.

The 'Really Blue' model has a white front, which may not be ideal for that Daydream VR headset, but it's the back and sides that are truly truly interesting. Why Google hasn't been able, or willing, to sell that particular model through its own e-commerce store in Canada is unclear, but since carrier exclusives are pretty rare these days, one can imagine that Rogers likely like this plan in its back pocket for some time.

See at Rogers

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1 week ago

Amazon Echo's biggest feature was just quietly added to Google Assistant

10

Assistant got a silent update with massive implications.

If you take a look at your Google Home app, down at the bottom of the "More settings" tab, you'll see an option that wasn't there after the last big update. Your Home app didn't update while you were asleep, Google silently added the tab in preparation for something much bigger. In fact, it's probably going to be the biggest single jab at Amazon's Echo platform yet.

The new tab is "Payments", and if you go through the brief set up process that follows tapping this new option you'll see Google is preparing for something big.

it's probably going to be the biggest single jab at Amazon's Echo yet.

While Amazon has worked very hard to ensure it is nearly impossible to reach feature parity with the Alexa service overnight, there's one huge thing Amazon will always have that no other company can easily compete with: commerce. Shopping through Amazon from your Echo is a unique experience, because so many people already have developed habits and preferred brands to order through Amazon. It's an unparalleled convenience to say "Alexa, order more paper towels" and have the speaker respond with a confirmation from your last order followed by a confirmation that your shipment will arrive the next day. Amazon has even gone so far as to offer special deals and contests you can only participate in by shopping through Alexa, making it very easy for some to build that habit.

Google's new Payments tab is a big first step at competing with the Amazon shopping experience because it ties directly into Google Express, a frequently overlooked online shopping experience that unifies products from dozens of different companies. Express makes it easy to order groceries, furniture, electronics, and a ton of other things at frequently discounted prices through a single service. If Google can turn this service into something convenient enough to use with just your voice, Assistant gains a huge competing point that is so frequently offered as a reason to buy Amazon's connected tech instead.

It's not clear how long it will take Google to fully roll out Express and make it something easy enough to use, but the intent here is clear. Google Home will absolutely try to offer a comparable shopping experience soon, and for many on the fence between Echo and Home this could be a very big deal.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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1 week ago

Chromebook Diaries: Learning to work my way around Chrome OS

49

'It's based off of Android,' I told myself. 'How much of a learning curve could there be?"

One of the biggest hurdles for me in giving Chrome OS a try was the realization that I have to adjust the way I work around the interface. I thought that maybe because Chrome OS was somewhat, tangentially related to Android — or, at least, because it came from Google — that I'd quickly catch on to its mechanisms. Well, based on my current experience, I can tell you that isn't the case.

I'm also facing a bit of a learning curve with the hardware of the Chromebook Flip, since I've spent most of my laptop life armed with something from the Apple Store. Despite some of the familiarity of the menu screens and services that hook directly into Chrome OS, it's a new beast I've yet to tame.

More: Chromebook Diaries Part 1: How I learned to live with Chrome OS

A new way of life

I know, I couldn't be more dramatic. But Chrome OS isn't Mac or Windows, which I've used thoroughly and through so many iterations. I'm familiar with their nuances. I can recall their commands by heart, or diagnose them if something goes awry. And even though this is a column about trying new things, the truth is that I fear change, especially when related to my tech life.

The Flip's slightly sluggish trackpad is noticeably slower compared to Apple's MacBook Pro.

My first order of business was to set up my Chromebook so that I could easily file a story here without being slowed down by the Flip's slightly sluggish trackpad, which is sort of disappointing considering how much I spent for the laptop. Even with the sensitivity setting set to the highest point, the actual tracking is choppy, especially compared to the smooth fluidity of the trackpad on the MacBook Pro. Say what you will about Apple, but the trackpad is what keeps me buying Cupertino's pricey hardware. Thankfully, there's a touchscreen display as backup when using the trackpad is absolutely maddening, but my work flow is primarily centered around using the mouse. I can't even use my Logitech MX Anywhere mouse because the Chromebook doesn't have USB. (To that end, anyone have a suggestion for an affordable Bluetooth mouse?)

The trick to Chrome OS (I think) is to equip yourself with the right apps from the get-go, so I went on an app hunt. I found a viable text editor called Text that I could use to open text files from my Dropbox, and I downloaded Microsoft Word for everything else. (I use Grammarly on the Chrome browser to help me along with grammar and spelling errors once I'm in the CMS. Writing is a multistep process!) Then, I grabbed Snapseed and Adobe Lightroom from the Play Store to help with images.

The Chromebook Flip's soft, almost velvet-y keyboard is a nice writing companion.

The writing part of my job — that's easy to do on a Chromebook. You have Google Docs, a variety of text editors, and Microsoft Word readily available. The Chromebook Flip's soft, almost velvet-y keyboard is also a nice writing companion, and I can honestly say this is the most comfortable hardware I've ever typed on. The hard part is editing photos.

I don't have any USB Type-C compatible USB plug-ins (ike these from Anker) readily available, so I grabbed an SD card adapter I had laying around with a 64GB microSD card on the inside. I used that to snap pictures with my DSLR, and then popped out the microSD card and placed it into the Chromebook's built-in card reader. The files were easily viewable with Chrome OS's built-in file explorer, but it was there that I stumbled a bit.

Chrome OS file explorer.

I wanted to edit the photos — you know, make them look good. My usual process on a Windows or Mac machine would be to edit in Lightroom, and then open it up in Photoshop to crop and save for the web (I'm sure you have an easier way of editing photos, but this has been my process for almost five years and I don't plan on changing it now). But on Chrome OS, I couldn't even open the photo in Lightroom. Apparently, Lightroom does not inherently offer SD card access on Chrome OS just yet, so there's a huge limitation to downloading it from the Play Store and attempting to use it as the default editor.

Menu options for opening images in Chrome OS.

I ended up editing the photos with Adobe Photoshop Express and Snapseed — the former for basic editing and the latter for specific image tweaks. Uploading it to the CMS was fine, too; I do everything in the Chrome browser as it is, so that experience wasn't drastically different.

The point is this: There is always a bit of a learning curve with something new, even if it's mildly different than what you're used to. But the nice thing about Chrome OS is that it does hearken back to Android. The pieces that unify the Google products are all there, but like the Android experience, it's up to the user to put in the initial time to customize things and install the right apps that will help initiate a certain workflow.

Other thoughts:

  • On my quest to find a worthy text editor — I should have just asked Jerry — I learned that typing in data:text/html, <html contenteditable> will bring up a text editor inside the Chrome browser. Neat.
  • The trackpad on this particular Asus Chromebook Flip is almost ... horrendous? I know, that's a strong word, but I grow increasingly frustrated trying to use each day. Yes, yes, I have a touchscreen, but sometimes I just want to use my laptop as that — a laptop.
  • Someone asked me if I'd buy a Chromebook over a standalone Android tablet, to which I responded "absolutely not." The thing is, the Chromebook will fit a very particular role in my life, and that's to be my mobile filing machine. It's a bonus that it flips over into tablet mode, and it makes things like digital journaling and playing some Android games feel second nature. But it's still a weighty computer and you can't cuddle with a Chromebook the way you can with a tablet. I mean, you can, it's just different. You know what I mean?
  • To that end, do consider a 2-in-1 if you're considering a Chromebook. Having that tablet functionality is AWESOME and makes life with the computer much easier because of its malleability.
  • Chrome OS does have split screen! I use this feature constantly on Windows, and I'm happy to see that they're here, too. There's even a handy shortcut for pinning: it's ALT + [ or ALT + ] for each corresponding side of the screen. Split screen mode can't be used when you flip into tablet mode, however.

Chromebooks

Android Marshmallow

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1 week ago

The Pixel's USB-C charger is a nice backup for the new MacBook Pro

38
The Pixel's USB-C charger is a nice backup for the new MacBook Pro

I still mourn the loss of MagSafe, but this charger interoperability over USB-C certainly helps ease the pain.

In this massive transition to USB-C connectors across all of our devices, there are a few victories dotted along the path of annoyances and dongles. I've found some exciting USB-C adaptors in the past few months, but one thing that's fantastic over and over again is the seamless swapping of cables between my new MacBook Pro and various USB-C phones, primarily the Pixel XL.

I've charged this new MacBook Pro with various cables and power bricks far more often than the big 61W charger than came in the box. It truly is great to have the flexibility of knowing just about any charger will add power to the laptop — the only question is how fast. A standard wall charger that outputs 5V/2.4A just doesn't do enough to keep adding power while the laptop is in use, but the Pixel XL's little 18W USB-C charger actually can keep a 13-inch MacBook Pro running.

And that's why I'm actually using it regularly as a backup laptop charger.

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1 week ago

Lenovo's third-quarter profits take a nosedive over slow smartphone sales

41

Lenovo is hoping to turn its mobile business profitable by the end of the year.

Lenovo has posted its financial results for the quarter ending December 31, 2016 (third fiscal quarter). The Chinese manufacturer netted $12.2 billion in revenue, a decline of 6% from the same period a year ago. Net profit at $98 million was 67% less than the 300 million it posted this time last year, and a decrease of 37% from a quarter ago.

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1 week ago

How to track your sleep with Android Wear 2.0

10

Easily track your slumber with Sleep as Android.

How can you track your sleep patterns with Android Wear 2.0 if it doesn't come with a built-in sleep tracker? And why doesn't Android Wear natively feature sleep tracking abilities the way that most fitness bands do?

Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to the second question, but I can help you with your sleep tracking conundrum—especially if the smartwatch you brought home doesn't offer its own sleep tracking app. Try Sleep as Android on for size. It's a full blown sleep tracking app for your smartphone that actively listens as you sleep to determine whether you're sleeping well or hardly at all. The app also offers Android Wear sleep tracking functionality, as well as synchronization with your Google Fit account, and though the wearable app is merely a switch to turn on your phone's sleep tracking feature, it's better than using nothing at all.

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1 week ago

Pokémon Go storage upgrades cost 50% less until Feb. 26

1

Upgrade your Pokémon Go storage for half the price.

Niantic is rolling out a huge update to Pokémon Go that introduces 80 new creatures to the game. The update is set to go live later this week, and to celebrate the release, Niantic is offering a 50% discount on storage upgrades until February 26:

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1 week ago

Xiaomi is already working on a Mi Mix successor with even thinner bezels

18

Xiaomi is looking to trim the bezels even further with the Mi Mix II.

Xiaomi's bezel-less Mi Mix was one of the most innovative products of 2016, with the phone rightfully receiving accolades from around the world. It looks like Xiaomi has already begun work on the successor to the Mi Mix, which will allegedly be dubbed the Mi Mix II. According to a recent Weibo post by Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, the company is once again partnering with French designer Philippe Starck for the Mi Mix II.

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1 week ago

Huawei could be developing its own voice assistant for the Chinese market

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Huawei is working on a voice assistant for Chinese customers.

Huawei already develops its own application processors through its HiSilicon subsidiary, and it looks like the manufacturer is now working on a voice assistant to further differentiate its products in its home market. According to Bloomberg, work on developing a voice-based assistant that will rival Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant is underway:

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1 week ago

Huawei P10 leak highlights Leica dual cameras, front home button

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Huawei P10 and P10 Plus break cover ahead of their official debut.

Press renders of the Huawei P10 have leaked ahead of its official unveil at Mobile World Congress, courtesy of Evan Blass. The images highlight an interesting design change from the Huawei P9 in the form of a home button at the front, which is likely to feature an embedded fingerprint sensor. Round the back, the phone sports the now-familiar Leica dual-camera setup, with the overall design remaining largely intact.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 vs. Honor 6X: The battle for budget supremacy starts here

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 vs. Honor 6X

Two of the best budget phones in India go head-to-head.

Xiaomi has started off the year strong with the Redmi Note 4, offering a feature-rich phone for ₹12,999. Although Huawei's sub-brand Honor doesn't have the same brand recognition as Xiaomi in India, the manufacturer's latest budget handset, the Honor 6X, stands out in several areas.

In fact, the Honor 6X is the only phone that is close to the Redmi Note 4 when it comes to the value proposition. Both handsets offer a ton of features, and in the case of the Redmi Note 4, the highlight is the battery life. For the Honor 6X, it is the dual-camera setup at the back.

The distribution models are also the same, with sales strategy pitting two of the largest e-commerce players in India against one another. Xiaomi has sided with Flipkart for the Redmi Note 4, while Honor is selling the Honor 6X exclusively on Amazon India. With both phones sold via weekly flash sales, there are a lot of similarities both in the feature-set on offer and the targeted audience. Let's see if the Redmi Note 4 can hold its own, or if the Honor 6X manages to pull ahead.

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1 week ago

Latest LG teaser highlights the UI changes coming to the G6

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LG shows off the G6's user interface in short teaser.

With the official unveil of the LG G6 just ten days away, LG is continuing to dish out additional details about the phone. The latest teaser video from the South Korean manufacturer shows off LG UX 6.0, the user interface that will make its way onto the G6. From the short video, it doesn't look like LG will make drastic changes to the UI elements, instead focusing on tailoring the interface to take advantage of the G6's 18:9 FullVision display.

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1 week ago

The Sony Smartwatch 3 is not getting Android Wear 2.0

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You can officially retire your old Sony smartwatch to the Box of Aging Tech Things.

Is this the official end of the SmartWatch 3 as we know it? The square-faced, athletic smartwatch will not be seeing its official update to Android Wear 2.0, much to the chagrin of the few die-hard fans who have stuck around because — well, it's kind of a classic, not to mention it was equipped with one of the biggest batteries available in Android Wear (420mAh!).

The news of the SmartWatch 3's expiration came from its official product page, which Xperia Blog found to contain the following annotation:

SmartWatch 3 SWR50 supports up to Android Wear 1.5. Android wear 2.0 and onwards are not supported

If you're holding out hope, there's still a petition going strong for Sony and Google to revert on their stance. But consider that the SmartWatch 3's square face and bulky body are officially a relic of a different time in Android Wear. Although, let's be honest, the future looks equally as bulky.

Android Wear

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