Reader J. was upset to read our post about a reader whose new PlayStation 4 was dead on arrival, and to learn that he wasn’t the only one. She ordered one from Amazon for her kid for Christmas, and had planned to leave it sealed up and hidden away until December 25th. “What if it’s one of the duds?” she wrote. “Should I open it and test it now? I really didn’t want to give him an opened box…”
That’s always an important question when giving electronics as a gift: is it better to give your loved one a carefully opened and then resealed box, or for them to potentially face the heartbreak of needing to send the whole thing back to Amazon, and not spend Christmas playing with it?
According to our estranged ex-cousins over at Kotaku, Sony claims that less than 1% of all consoles have the “blue light of death” error. That’s good to hear, but we really don’t like those odds when we ponder how many PS4s will be stashed away until Christmas, unopened.
So we’re saying “Yes.” Open it up. Here’s what you need to do:
Make sure that it’s a real PS4 and not a box of bricks. It’s very rare, but we’ve read enough accounts of gaming device boxes filled with rocks that we recommend making sure the gadget is real before wrapping it up. Read the stories we’ve filed under the “Boxes of Crap” tag. It’s enough to make you open up everything you buy right in front of the cashier.
If the unthinkable happens and your PS4 box is filled with rocks, read this classic post: “What To Do When A Store Sells You Box Of Crap And Won’t Take It Back“
Make sure all of the accessories are there. If there’s a controller or a cable missing, you have time to fight with the retailer and/or return it.
Make sure it works. There might be a fix for DOA PS4s by Christmas, but it’s unlikely there will be one by the end of Hanukkah. If you’re not especially tech-savvy, just do the basics: plug in the electric cord, plug it in to a TV’s HDMI port, and make sure that it powers on and that pictures come out. If the blue light on the box turns white, then it’s probably fine. Maybe remove any bags and twist-ties so your kid can tear into the package faster and without flinging those items on the floor.
If you’re more tech-savvy, you can do your own Geek Squad console optimization. There will be software patches to download the first time you turn on the PS4: imagine how slow that will be on Christmas morning. Set the console up on your home wi-fi network and download the patches now.
What if it doesn’t work? First, Sony put up some very detailed troubleshooting guides on their forums. Read through those and make sure you’ve set everything up correctly. If it still won’t power up, you’re stuck: time to go back to the retailer and exchange your dud for a working one. Repeat the process over again until you get a working unit that Santa can hide under the guest room bed or in the supply cabinet at work or wherever it is your family hides gifts.
J. reports back that she tested her kid’s PS4 and all is well. Downloading the patches took about fifteen minutes, and she doesn’t have to worry about her kid’s gift not working.