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Hey there listeners, it’s Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech. Well, Christmas is almost here and obviously you’ve heard us talk about this before, but one of the hottest tech gifts out there is a video game console, specifically the PlayStation 5 from Sony, and the Microsoft Xbox Series X. Anytime you go to any retailer, whether it’s Target, Best Buy, whatever, if you’re one of those folks that has been looking for one of these consoles for weeks and months now, you have probably seen the same familiar message over and over again, sold out. Doesn’t matter where you go, you try every time, you might refresh all the time, do whatever, you cannot find it anywhere. But some consumers have gotten lucky and they’ve figured out how to get that new console. Whether they followed someone at Twitter that alerted them to something, or again, they refreshed at the right time.
A lot of it feels like luck, honestly. But regardless of what happens, you find that new console. So let’s say you bought that console for yourself, or not for yourself, but for a family member, your kid, it’s maybe it’s you have older kids, don’t get ready to wrap it just yet. There are some things you want to do to get it ready before you actually give the gift. I write about this in a story that you can read on tech.ustoday.com. What you want to do before you give that console as a gift, get it set up because there’s a bit of a process involved. And so to save that loved one a couple of hours of setting up the device, you can have it ready for them to go and they can just start playing right away.
First thing you want to think about is, where do you want to put the console? Is it going in a living room? A family room? Is it going in a kid’s bedroom? Wherever it is, just make sure you figure that place out. The most important thing is just to make sure there’s enough for the console so that it doesn’t overheat. You don’t want to have it in too tight a space in an entertainment center, for example, or stuff on top of it or underneath it, things like that. You want to have a little of breathing room for it, so it doesn’t overheat. So let’s get to the setup part. A lot of the process for all three of these consoles is very similar. What you want to do, first step obviously, take it out of the box, hook it up to a TV, and turn it on, simple enough, right?
And again, just pick whatever TV you can get to just to get it started and ready to go. In the case of a PS5, for example, it will ask you to choose your wifi network, you’ll go in and join that. After that, it’s very likely that they’ll ask you to update the system software. So just follow the instructions there. A lot of times, they’ll prompt you and tell you you need to update the software. You can do it right at that time. If not, you can go to settings and then system software and update it from there. And it works across the line as well with Xbox and with the Nintendo Switch. One fun note with the Xbox though, is it actually has an app, and you actually use that to update the console. It’s very convenient, especially, we’ll get to this in a bit where you’re adding in account information and it’s super convenient. But again, the process is very similar where you’re going to get on wifi, you might need to update all those things.
Another thing to keep in mind as well, both the PS5 and the Series X controllers have their own kind of firmware. So unlike other systems, if you’ve bought a video game system before, the controllers are just there, you plug them in, you play, or you just turn them on, you pair them and you play, they actually have their own firmware, which means you have to update them like you would your phone or the console. So what you might have to do is, when you turn on the controller for the first time, it might tell it needs to update, and you have to plug it in, it’ll update the actual controller, and then you’re ready to go there.
Once you’re online, you’ll be asked to join whatever the appropriate online network is. PlayStation Network, if you’re on PlayStation obviously, there’s also Xbox Live for the Series X. These will allow you to play games online. It’ll also allow you to download games. If your kids already have accounts, or if the person you know has an account and you know that info, you could log in for them and get it set up there. It’s a subscription service, so that’s something to keep in mind too. If you have kids, you may need to put in credit card info. One thing I’ve done though, if you’re not sure about putting credit card info on your console is I’ll buy gift cards. And so I’ll buy a couple gift cards, add them to the digital wallet for the console, and then it just draws from that. And I’ve found that to be very useful, and that’s actually probably the best way to do it with kids because then you don’t have to worry about getting your credit card there. And they’re potentially racking up a lot of gains and racking up a lot of money on your card.
Instead, you can just give them gift cards and you have more control over what they spend and how they spend, and give them more limitations there. The other benefit to logging into these services, say, an Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, if you know the games they play, you can download some of them in advance. So then that way, again, they boot it up, they turn it on. Their games are right there, they can just play immediately. It’s great. The Nintendo Switch, again, process is very similar. There’s the Nintendo Switch Online as well. So that way, if they want to play online, another nice bonus too is you get access to a ton of older Nintendo games, which is really great. The other thing to consider as well, parental controls. This is mostly for if you’re buying a console and you’re buying it for kids. I would advise considering them because you can limit the games they play if you don’t want them to play certain things, certain rated games like mature, you can block that. You can also, again, monitor the spending on games.
I think some control, the player can ask permission to buy something. You can also even check how often they’re playing and how long they’re playing. You can set time limits. So if you want them to turn something off, you can do that. Each one of the consoles has its own set of controls. I break it all down for you, and you can read more about this, get a lot more detail and specifics on how to set up a console if you’ve bought one on tech.usatoday.com. Listeners, let’s hear from you. Do you have any comments, questions, or show ideas? Any tech problems you want us to try to address? You can find me on Twitter @brettmolina23. Please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us, or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcast. And don’t forget. Do you want to get tech news delivered straight to your inbox? Go to newsletters.usatoday.com to subscribe to the Talking Tech newsletter. It’s out every Thursday. You’ve been listening to Talking Tech, we’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.