That new phone, toy or computer is a wonderful gift, but do you have what you need to deliver a great out of box experience? We share our tips on what you should have on hand to ensure your tech gift is the delight it's meant to be and doesn't turn into a headache.
Setting up a phone or tablet
Fortunately, the process of moving to a new phone these days is fairly straightforward. Make sure you update and back up the old device before transferring to the new one. Have your account information, including email password, Apple ID/Google account and any services you might want to load on the phone, like Netflix or Spotify.
- For Android phones and tablets, there's a handy transfer wizard that walks you through the whole process and can essentially copy everything from your old phone. If you don't want to transfer everything, back up everything you can save but not transfer and delete it from your old phone before you set up your new phone.
Make sure you install malware protection for Android devices. We recommend Avast Mobile Security, which provides free malware protection, call blocking, Wi-Fi network security assessment and device tracking.
- For iPhones and iPads, check out our story on how to set up your iPhone XS, XS Max and XR.
- Invest in a high-quality case that has both shock absorption and rigidity. A good one will list its drop test rating. And get a screen protector to prevent scratching or breaking the device's display. For iPhones, get a tempered glass protector and for Android phones with curved sides, like the Samsung Galaxy S9, get a plastic film.
- If you are giving a child their first phone or tablet, you'll want to create a child account for them using your iOS device, if it's an iPhone or iPad, or using the Family Link app (for iOS or Android) for Android devices. A child account is considered part of your family, so any apps or music you may have already purchased can be downloaded for free. As the parent, you can set time limits for the device, set hours the device can be used, establish content restrictions and even remotely lock the device (Find out more about setting up parental controls and restricting time on the device). You should consider setting up the device before they open it so they can enjoy it right out of the box.
Set up a place to charge the device that is not in your child's bedroom. Putting the device on the charger before bed will then become part of the routine and your child won't be tempted to play after bedtime.
- Many new phones don't have a headphone jack. While the adapter may come in the box, it might be time to invest in a pair of Bluetooth headphones. You can pick up a great pair for less than $50.
Setting up accessories
Many of the accessories you'll be gifting for the holidays will pair to another device via Bluetooth. Something Bluetooth works right out of the box and sometimes it doesn't. We have 15 tips for solving your Bluetooth pairing problems, which you should read if these 4 common tips don't help.
- Make sure Bluetooth is turned on for both devices
- Make sure both devices are in pairing mode. The new device should be in pairing mode when you first power it on. You'll need to go into the other device's settings to turn on Bluetooth and make it discoverable.
- Make sure both devices are charged. Some devices turn off Bluetooth to save power.
- Make sure another device of the same type isn't actively paired.
A lot of accessories don't come with charging bricks, they just give you a cable. So it might be time to buy a multi-port charging brick. Not only will you be able to charge everything at once, but you'll also only use one outlet to do it.
Setting up kids tech toys
- Buy batteries! You probably already know this one, but it's worth a reminder to pick up some packs of batteries so the kids can play with their new toys.
- If the toy you're buying connects to the internet, make sure you create a strong password for your account. Some devices come with a default password, which you should change immediately. A password manager will ensure you can remember your new passwords.
- If you're buying a game system, you'll want to set up a parent account and child account ahead of time so you can set up parental controls for things like content ratings and purchases. You'll also want to decide whether your child will be allowed to play games with others online. Some games will require a paid subscription to play. For instance, you'll need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play the popular Fortnite game on Xbox. So do your research now so your child won't be disappointed later.
Setting up smart home devices
- Many smart home devices come with a default username and password. Make sure you change that right away! To help you remember your new passwords, invest in a password manager. And while you're at it, make sure the password for your Wi-Fi network is strong enough to keep out hackers.
- Check the privacy settings of the device. It may default to sharing more information that you'd like.
- Install anti-malware software on all devices that will access your smart home device.
- Don't connect sensitive accounts to smart devices unless you need to.
- Find the mute button for voice-enabled smart devices. While voice control is certainly useful, you may not want your device listening all the time.
Setting up TVs and streaming media devices
- Have on hand the usernames and passwords for all of your streaming accounts for easier setup. Again, a password manager is the best option.
- Only connect those accounts you'll definitely use. There's no reason to hand over personal accounts, like Facebook, unless necessary.
[Image credit: opening present via BigStockPhoto]