(Pocket-lint) - All new technology brings a thrill - especially when you're giving someone a new console that's going to fill many hours of the day over the next few years. With the Xbox Series consoles and new PlayStation 5, it's likely to be a gaming Christmas for many.
Sure, if you're a fan you'll have already bought and be playing with your console, but for many parents - who are gifting the console - there's more to think about. That's if you managed to get one, of course.
That Christmas cheer might be slightly dulled, however, when you get your new Xbox Series X out of the box and then discover that you've got hours and hours of downloads to get through before you can actually do anything.
Ding dong downloads upon high!
Well, it's not that bad. There's an initial update for the Xbox Series X (at the time of writing) that's only about 700MB and that arrives in a flash and updates the console. Beyond that, the big barrier is the games themselves.
If you want to play the latest games or mostly have digital titles, there's a lot of downloading to be done, especially if you want to take advantage of the Optimised for Series X/S. These games will need to be on the internal storage of the Series Xbox to get the best experience.
Take Forza Horizon 4, for example. It is Optimised for Xbox Series X/S and it's about 80GB of download. The total download for us was about 3 hours - although you can, of course, start playing before it's all downloaded, but if you have just a few games that you're likely to want to play on Christmas morning, it's well worth priming the console before the big day.
Unboxing the Xbox Series X
Having the packaging in pristine condition so you don't ruin the experience is part of the fun here. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to get into the Xbox Series X packaging without destroying anything.
The box is held closed by four adhesive tabs. These aren't security tabs, they can actually be peeled away from the box without tearing or leaving any marks. With some care you can peel them back to release the lid. It's then worth sticking them to themselves, so that when you rebox, you can use them to secure the box lid closed again.
Then you simply have to lift the lid for the first sight of your new dream machine, the Xbox Series X. Well, there's some foam packaging on top, but once you lift that out, the console will be found in more packaging, with a card sleeve wrapped around it.
The card will easily slip off, so you can deal with the black wrapping on the console itself.
The inner wrapping is again secured with sticky tape, so it's easy to carefully lift this tape and open up one end of the sleeve. You can then slide the console out of the wrapping, leaving it in shape.
That's it - you're out of the box and ready to proceed.
Hark the power cable singing!
The next step, naturally, is connecting it up. If you're an existing Xbox owner (which you likely are if you want to download games you already own), then you can simply find a time to hook-up your Series X with the connections you usually use for your Xbox One.
To get the console running you'll need power, a network connection and the HDMI to the TV. We disconnected the cables from our existing Xbox and plugged them into the Series X. Using existing cables means there's no need to go routing through the rest of the box so you can leave that all in tact.
The power cable is standard figure eight type, so you can easily use an existing cable for this if you need to.
Using a wired network connection is preferable as they can be much more reliable than wireless - and a connected Ethernet cable is seamlessly detected in the setup process.
Setup itself uses the Xbox app on your phone. You'll need to install the app where you'll see the option to setup a new console. You'll make a connection by then tapping the letters shown on the TV into the app.
The basics of setup are then handled via your phone, including the option to sign in to and link to your Microsoft account, your security options for the new console and a prompt to download the app to manage your family on the Xbox too.
Use your old controller, if you can
We found an initial approx. 700MB download was needed, before we got to the controller connection stage. Although the on-screen graphics prompt you to connect one of the new controllers in the box, you can use an existing controller from the Xbox One if you have one.
You'll have to turn the controller on, press the orange connect button on the front and then press the connect button on the front of the new Xbox console too. That will pair the two and you'll be able to do everything else without disturbing the rest of the packaging.
If you don't have an old controller, you'll have to carefully delve into the box to unleash the new Xbox Series controller. Lift the lid on the sleeve at the back of the box and you'll find the controller on the right.
It's packaged simply enough, with tape keeping the bag closed, but easily opened. Batteries are supplied, but sealed in another bag, so you might want to find two AA batteries for this temporary measure.
O Come All Ye Downloads
As we said, it's downloading the games that takes the big chunk of time. Having been through the setup process the Xbox Series X/S will be ready to use, but you'll have nothing to play.
With some of these downloads taking many hours, you might have to pick the games that you think will be the most important come Christmas morning. Just head into your games list, see what carries the X/S logo that you'll want on the internal storage and hit download.
Of course, downloads aren't the only option. If you have external storage on your existing console, you might want to do some management there, to move games to an external drive so you can move those over to the new console.
This will save you a chunk of download time, but will take some careful management to make sure you know what you're doing. We've got a guide about how to move your games from one console to another using an external drive and even if you're downloading some games directly, there might be some that you move over using hard drive separately at a later date. You might also need another external drive if you don't have the capacity to move all your games on any drive you already have.
The important thing is to do a little housekeeping and make sure that any games you have saved on your internal drive on your old Xbox are saved to the external storage so you can simply move it across once you need it.
Santa baby, just slip an Xbox under the tree, for me
Once you've done your updating and setup, downloaded some games, you can think about getting it all back into the box, knowing that it will be ready to use on Christmas morning with minimal fuss.
If you've been careful with the unpacking, it's easy to return the console to its packaging in pristine condition and no one will be any the wiser - until it's started up and ready to play.