How to set up gadget gifts

It happens every Christmas. As soon as the wrapping hits the floor,you're getting hit up to set up everyone's new gadgets. Don't worry, thisyear we've got your back with a few quick tips so that you'll benavigating the myriad of menus and manuals - done and on to the egg nog -in no time.


Ifyou're giving someone tech as a gift set it up for them beforehand ifyou can. Though this isn't always an option, it can be a nice surpriseto give a gift that requires zero work to turn on. This is the perfectsolution for folks who aren't tech- savvy, as they can begin using thegift without frustration.

Simple set-up

Just about every new gadget these days comes with a quick start guidethat's easy to follow. Most new gadgets simply need to be plugged inand charged up, connected to Wi-Fi, and linked to an existing emailaccount. Pretty simple stuff.

Take a second and set up security features, such as Find my iPhone or Lookout .Also, download a few of their favorite apps. If you're not sure whichones to choose, take a look at the Editor's Choice apps and othercurated suggestions on iTunes or Google Play.

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If you're helping set up a gift afterthe recipient's opened it, and it doesn't have to go back in the box itcame in all nice and neat - something that has saved me a lot of hassle- open everything with a large Ziploc nearby. Label the charger, putall of the instructions, extra pieces, even the original boxes insideand store it away. This helps if you need to read the manual, return it,or even re-sell it down the road.

Transfer important files and settings

Fortablets, smartphones, and computers, your gift recipient will probablywant to transfer their files and settings to the new device.Unfortunately, this will be a different process for different gadgets,but here are some steps to get you started:

- If your gift is anupgrade to the latest version, it may be as simple as backing up the olddevice and restoring to the new. This is especially easy with iPhoneand iPad upgrades. Syncing the device with a host computer often letsyou duplicate chosen apps and contacts on the new device in just a fewminutes.

- If you sync your contacts, mail, or documents throughany particular service - like Gmail or Dropbox - starting on a newsystem can be as easy as setting up those same services on your newcomputer, smartphone, or tablet.

- For computers, the simplest wayto move your data is to copy your files from one computer to anotherover Wi-Fi or to a spare hard drive or USB drive. If you're upgrading aMac, an associate at an Apple Store can perform this transfer for nocharge.

- Some Android phone and tablets have access to externalstorage, which can be a great way to back up files and settings and movethem to a new device.


If it's adevice you can't set up ahead of time - like a new HDTV - be sure tocheck the packaging to see if there's something extra you need. Commonculprits that may be missing include batteries, cables, memory cards,and software or games. For example, a new HDTV or Blu-ray player isn'tlikely to include the HDMI cord you'll need to connect it to the rest ofyour entertainment gadgets.

A few other important add-ons include:

-Game consoles almost never come with the games to play on them. Be sureto pick up one or two along with the system itself to ensure afun-filled Christmas morning.

- If you're giving a digital orvideo camera, there's a good chance it'll come with either a tiny memorycard or no storage media at all. If you're giving one of these, it's agood idea to snag a beefy memory card at the same time.

- Giving atablet or smartphone? How about an App Store or Google Play gift cardalong with it, so your friend or family member can load it up with greatapps right away.


If you're giving agadget gift to a teenager or younger user, it may be a good idea to setup the parental controls ahead of time. Set up a password for maturecontent and share it with the recipient's parent or guardian so they canchange it if they need to. Most tablets and smartphones haveeasy-to-use age controls that restrict content with a basic setting thatis easy to change by the parent if needed.

The same is true fornew video games and movies. If you're giving a game console or a Blu-rayplayer and want to include some content to play on the device, err onthe side of caution and select titles that are acceptable for all ages.For movies, PG or G is perfect, and for video games you'll want toselect T or E-rated titles. In any case, avoiding R-rated movies andM-rated games will ensure a parent doesn't have to un-gift your presentafter the fact.

Contract cardswith a written set of rules and responsibilities are also greatresources for both kids and parents. I've used one to set expectationsup on both sides, so that my daughter gets clear boundaries on when andhow she can use her new device, and I promise not to overreact or dosomething hypocritical, like play Candy Crush during dinnertime.


If the new gift just happens to be an Amazon Kindle Fire, you're in great luck if you get stumped because there's a "Mayday" button that connects you to a real person, right on the device. There's also an Android App called Zikk that gives you access to to your family's devices, so that you can help them even if you're halfway around the world.

Foreverything else, if you end up being truly in a pinch for set-up tips,and the instruction manual isn't helping make matters any better, theweb might be your best friend. Many new gadgets have pages upon pages ofonline support.

You should be able to find answers to specificquestions - or at least a way to contact support if you're still havingtrouble. If you still can't find what you're looking for, simply go toyour favorite search engine and type the product name as well as adescription of the problem you're having - chances are you aren't theonly one who's having it, and someone may have a solution for you. Ifthe worst does indeed happen - and your gift simply won't work, or isn'tright for the recipient - always keep your receipts! A working gift aday late is better than a broken gift on time.

Any questions? Be sure to share comments below. Happy Holidays!

JenniferJolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host ofUSA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.


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