It’s the time of year when people tend to get new connected devices in their homes. New smart TVs, smart phones, streaming sticks, game systems, smart speakers, connected doorbells, bluetooth headphones, tablets, toys, and more. And just like the children’s toys that you want to unpackage and put together right away, you want your new devices connected and working as soon as possible, too!
One problem, however, is that setting up new connected devices is not always easy. You may not have grown up around technology and the Internet, like today’s kids, or you may just not have a knack for technology, like some people have a knack for working on cars. Not all devices are the same, either. Each brand/model offers different features, menus/buttons, and setup instructions. Whatever the case, this blog is meant to give you some tips and advice for setting up new connected devices.
TIP 1: PLANNING
If you are the one buying the new device(s) or at least have influence over the purchase, do some pre-purchase planning by asking around for advice. If you have Facebook, put a post to your friends asking who has the device you are considering and what they think of it. Ask for ease of setup, included features, likes/dislikes, and whether they’d recommend it.
Do some research online of different makes and models to find out which one(s) would be best for your needs, budget, and tech-savviness. If buying from a store, stop in and test/play with the devices yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so. Ask the employees to show you some features and describe the process for setting up the device. Tell them what your needs are and see what they would recommend.
This planning is an important step to help ensure you purchase the right device(s) for your needs. The wrong device will not only cause you frustration, but also extra time and hassle taking the device(s) back and getting the right one(s)!
TIP 2: INFORMATION PREP
There is some information that you may want to gather in advance of setting up new devices so you have it ready and accessible when you need it. You may need your email address and the email password, the login and password to websites, apps, or services that the new device will use, and usually your Internet connection information. If you do not know some of your usernames or passwords, you may need to reset or request a new password.
Any new wireless device will need access to your Wi-Fi in order to connect. While some devices use “WPS” to connect to your router, most will just ask you to choose your SSID (network name) and enter your Wi-Fi password. These are not your email address and email password; they are specific to your wireless connection and are stored in your router. If you do not know your SSID and password, contact your Internet provider for this. If you have your own wireless router (not one you are leasing from your provider), you may need to refer to your router’s instructions for recovering or resetting the password. The WPS option means your device can talk to your router to obtain your SSID and password by pressing a “WPS” button on the device and on the router. Not all devices or routers offer WPS connectivity.
Aside from just your connection information, you will want to have a working email address ready as well. Most devices will require you to create an account with their company or app, which will require submitting your email address and checking email to confirm your account. In a case where you are adding another device or replacing a device, you may already have a login and password that needs to be typed in on the new device. This is where having a booklet containing all of your account records would be helpful. If you don’t have one yet, now may be a great time to start!
TIP 3: CONNECTION PREP
In addition to just having the information you may need for new devices, you also want to make sure you have the cords, electrical outlets, prepped location, etc. for new devices. The moment you are trying to set up a new device is not the time to find out you don’t have an extra outlet available, or that you need an ethernet or USB cord. For each device you plan to connect, you will need an accessible electrical outlet plugin.
We recommend using surge protectors for all electrical devices. A surge protector is different than a power strip in that has a fuse and a reliable cutoff mechanism if the power exceeds a certain level. A surge protector is far superior to a power strip to not only protect your devices from power surges but also your home electrical system from overload. You may want to purchase and plug this in ahead of time since you may need to move cords from several devices when doing this.
Devices such as smart TVs and game systems, that require a fast and reliable connection and are less likely to be moved, should be connected directly to your router with an ethernet cord, if possible. Ethernet typically provides a faster and more reliable connection than Wi-Fi and it frees up room on your Wi-Fi for other devices. Depending on your home build and layout, you may be able to just run an ethernet cord from the back of the router (ports 1 – 4) to the device. If you need to run the cord through walls and floors, or will require another option, you should contact your provider in advance to wire an ethernet outlet where you plan to use the new devices.
Another consideration for Wi-Fi is whether the signal will be strong enough for your devices if they will be in new areas, such as basement family rooms or upstairs bedrooms. In this case, you should consider getting one or more Wi-Fi extenders to improve the signal in these areas for the best possible experience. TCC’s Managed Wi-Fi includes not only a strong Calix wireless router but also a Calix Mesh Extender for an even better reach.
*Extra Tip* One thing you might consider is to open the device and get it set up completely BEFORE giving it as a gift. While you can’t connect it to someone else’s Wi-Fi, you can do this in your own home, on your own time, and then just wrap it for the person to open. That way, it’s ready to go the moment it’s opened!
TIP 4: RESOURCES
Once you’ve done your homework on the best device(s) for your needs, obtained your wireless network information, and prepped the hardware necessary, you’re ready to set up your new devices! Now it’s time to consider resources you can use for assistance, if needed.
Device Instructions – Most devices will at least come with basic instructions for setup and network connection. It is best to read through the instructions completely BEFORE starting so you can gather any materials you need and so you don’t accidentally do any steps out of order, which may derail the setup process. The instructions may include some basic troubleshooting information as well to catch the common/basic problems.
Google/YouTube – Don’t be afraid to look on the Internet for help setting up a new device. You can either go to Google or YouTube and type something like “setting up (device)” or “connecting (device) to wi-fi”. Google will show you website instructions and possibly some videos and YouTube will just show you videos of how to set up or connect that device. Include the brand, model, and even model number to make sure you get the exact instructions.
Tech Support – You can also call the device manufacturer or your Internet provider for help. Refer to the device instructions for support options and contacts. Look for “chat” options instead of phone numbers, if possible. Chat allows you to type back and forth to a technician through another device. This is not only faster than calling in most cases, but technicians can send you screen-shots and pictures to help you with your device.
TIP 5: HAVE PATIENCE!
Having patience is often easier said than done, but just know that device setup is not always quick and easy. Getting a new device ready for use may require creating a username and password, software updates, driver installation, and other steps that can seem to take a long time. Just be patient. Trying to force a device to move ahead or stopping an installation and starting again can make the process take even longer.