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You finally caved and got your kid that expensive video game console for their birthday. But did you know that there are loads of other things a video game console can do besides keep your kids up all night playing games?
Here are some adult things that console can do for you—and a few things to help you unleash your inner child, too.
Missed the latest episode of Stranger Things or Grey’s Anatomy? Not to worry. There’s a huge range of TV and film streaming apps available for both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, including heavy hitters like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. These are subscription services, though, so you’ll need to set up an account before firing up the Xbox.
There are a few niche streaming apps that you can stream through your video game console, too, such as Crunchyroll, which is home to Japanese anime and Asian drama, and Mubi (currently only on PS4), which specializes in arthouse films. Speaking of films, you can also buy and download the latest blockbusters straight from the PlayStation or Microsoft stores.
By comparison, the Nintendo Switch is a little light in the streaming department: currently, its video apps are limited to YouTube.
If you have a PS4 or an Xbox One, you have a Blu-ray player. Simply slot in a Blu-ray disc and start munching on your popcorn!
If you’re not comfortable using a game controller to navigate movie menus, Xbox One has a separate Media Remote you can buy for a more traditional TV remote experience. But with the PS4, you can use your existing TV remote to control movies, as long as your TV is HDMI-compatible. Here’s how you can set that up.
Best of all, if you have an Amazon Alexa device, you can control your movie-watching experience on Xbox One just by using your voice—no remote required!
Your child probably won’t thank us for telling you this, but the PS4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch all have parental controls that allow you to set things like internet and network access, as well as the allowed time spent playing games.
Both the PS4 and the Xbox One are compatible with Spotify, so once you’ve signed in to your account on the console, you can stream your favorite music straight through the TV. There’s a dedicated Spotify app on the Xbox Store, but on your PS4 you’ll need to select the PlayStation Music tab and then link it to Spotify.
The Xbox One also has a few more music apps, including SoundCloud and iHeartRadio, and both consoles let you upload MP3 files via a USB stick. The Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, is relatively lacking in music playback options, but it does allow you to download the KORG Gadget, which is essentially a tiny music production studio that lets you create your own tunes.
Your kids’ gaming console isn’t just for running around virtual worlds. It can also help you get fit in the real world. In this respect, the Nintendo Switch reigns supreme. Games such as Fitness Boxing and Just Dance encourage you to grab the Joy-Con controllers and work up a sweat as you fling yourself around the living room.
The jewel in the fitness gaming crown is Ring Fit Adventure. This game comes with a hoop-like controller that you’re encouraged to squash and squeeze as you travel around the game world, and the addictive gameplay will make keeping fit fun.
There are fewer fitness options on the PS4 and the Xbox One, but if you have the PlayStation Move controllers, you can always try Just Dance on Sony’s console. And if you have the PlayStation VR headset, Beat Saber is a brilliant cross between a lightsaber battle and a dance class that will get your heart pumping—just like a Jedi.
Your child probably won’t thank us for telling you this, but the PS4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch all have parental controls that allow you to set things like internet and network access, as well as the allowed time spent playing games. You can set games to automatically suspend at set hours, which can help you avoid repeated cries of “just one more minute!” while dinner is waiting on the table.
These consoles aren’t just for streaming your favorite dramas or setting meal schedules. They can also help you channel your inner child. There are tons of amazing 360-degree videos you can watch on YouTube using the VR headset connected to your gaming console, mostly for free. You can go diving with great white sharks, take a ride on an extreme roller coaster, or even journey to the edge of space.
You can also catch up with your favorite comic book characters via a gaming console. Inky Pen and Izneo are two comic book apps on the Nintendo Switch. Although both require a subscription, they each have a selection of titles that are free to read, too. Who says your kids get to have all the fun?
You might be used to the Nintendos or Ataris of old, but today’s video game consoles are much more than gaming devices. They’re exercise machines, media streamers, and parenting tools. With everything these devices can do, you might be begging your kid for a turn on the Xbox.