10 Things You Didn’t Know Your Video Game Console Could Do

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iStock

Modern video game consoles are all-in-one entertainment machines that offer you the ability to not just play games but to watch movies, log onto Facebook, turn on your television, and engage in a whole host of other built-in benefits to make your gaming experience better. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know your video game console could do.

1. TURN ON YOUR TV.

Instead of turning on your TV and PlayStation 4 separately, you can actually turn them both on at the same time with HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) via Device Link. Simply connect your PS4 to an HDMI CEC-enabled TV. Once connected, go to settings on your PS4, then select “System,” and then check the box for “Enable HDMI Device Link.” That's it!

Every time you turn on your PS4, it will automatically turn your TV on at the same time. The feature will even automatically switch your TV’s input to PS4, if you’re watching something else like cable TV.

Both the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One have this feature, too. It’s under “Match TV Power State” in “TV Settings” on the Nintendo Switch and “Devices” under “TV & OneGuide” in settings on the Xbox One. Just make sure your TV supports HDMI-CEC and that it's enabled.

In addition, there are many streaming devices that utilize this same feature, including Google’s Chromecast, Roku, and Apple TV.

2. PLAY GAMES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES.

The Nintendo Switch is a region-free console, which means that you can play any game from around the world, though the video game company limits your access to the country where your account is based. However, with a special (and simple) workaround, you can visit any eShop from any country of your choosing, without actually having to be physically there.

Simply create a new account and choose the country you want to be associated with when prompted. Once your account is verified with a new email address and a profile is made, you can browse and play any video game from the region of your choice. In addition, you can add multiple profiles to one account to make it easier to switch between countries. Just be aware that the eShop will be in the country’s native language (which could pose a problem if you want a Japanese game, but can't read the language).

3. BROWSE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.

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While the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a dedicated web browser, there is a clever workaround to access Facebook and Twitter as a “secret” web portal. Under the “Users” tab in “System Settings,” you can access your social media accounts under the “Post on Social Networks” tab. Once prompted and logged in, you can access anything posted on Twitter or Facebook, including YouTube videos and news articles.

4. PLAY IN WINDOWS 10.

One of the best things about the Xbox One is that Microsoft manufactures both its hardware and software, which mean it’s easily integrated into other Microsoft platforms—namely, Windows 10. Just make sure your Xbox One is set to game streaming by going into "Settings," then “Preferences,” and “Xbox App Connections,” and then check “Allow Game Streaming To Other Devices.”

Now go to the Xbox One app that comes pre-installed on Windows 10. If you don’t have the app on your computer, you can download it for free from the Microsoft Store. Once you open the app, connect your Xbox One to your PC under the “Connect” tab. Add the device via the same Wi-Fi network. Now you can play any Xbox One game on any PC or tablet, as long as it’s running Windows 10.

5. ACCESS YOUR SMARTPHONE.

The PS4 was built with smartphones in mind, and has several useful features that connect the console to your iPhone or Android. Once you download the PlayStation App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, just sign in with the number displayed on the TV and you can use your smartphone as a second screen or as a trusty keyboard accessory when it’s paired with your PS4 via the same Wi-Fi network. It comes in handy when typing, so you don’t have to awkwardly “hunt and peck” on the console’s virtual keyboard with your controller.

You can also use the PlayStation App to buy and download games when you’re away from home, or if your PS4 is in standby mode. Simply browse through the PlayStation Store on the app and your newly purchased games and movies will automatically start downloading to your PS4 via the Internet. You can even remotely turn your console on or off from the app.

6. SHARE GAMES.

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Although most games aren’t made with physical discs anymore, you can still share your favorite Xbox games with your family members and friends in the same household with a neat feature called “Gameshare.” You can even Gameshare with a close friend who lives elsewhere. However, Gameshare only works with two Xbox Ones at a time and only with digitally purchased games.

Just have your Xbox One profile added to a family member or close friend’s account with an Xbox Gamertag and password. While still signed into the other account, under settings go to “My Xbox,” then “My Home Xbox,” then select “Make this my Home Xbox.” Then have your friend or family member do the same thing on his or her Xbox One console. Now both profiles can access your digital library of games, as new content will be found in the “Ready To Install” section in “My Games & App.”

7. REFRESH YOUR FROZEN DASHBOARD WITHOUT GETTING UP.

Sometimes the Xbox One’s dashboard can become overwhelmed, which leads it to freeze or become otherwise unresponsive. Instead of getting up off the couch to restart the console, you can use a simple trick with the controller to reset the system.

Press and hold down the “LT” (Left Trigger) + “RT” (Right Trigger) + “Y” buttons at the same time for a few seconds and then release. The dashboard will refresh itself and reload every element on the home screen. Think of it as the Ctrl-Alt-Delete for your Xbox One.

8. PLAY PS4 GAMES ON PS VITA.

If you happen own a PlayStation Vita handheld device, you can use it to play PS4 games if your TV is in use, or if you’re in another room. Sign in to your PSN ID on your PS Vita and enter a code and you can access and play games while on the same Wi-Fi network.

9. PAIR JOY-CON WITH YOUR ANDROID, PC, OR MAC.

You can pair the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons or Pro Controller with any Android, PC, or Mac device (according to TechCrunch, iOS has its own specifications and isn’t natively compatible). Just hold on to the small sync button on the top of either controller and wait for its green light to start flashing. Then go to your device and look for the Joy-Con in your device’s Bluetooth settings. Now you can play mobile games on your device with a physical controller instead of a virtual D-pad or keyboard.

10. PLAY BREAKOUT.

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Nintendo is known for building fun Easter eggs into some of its games. The video game company even hid a few clever little secrets in the New Nintendo 3DS—namely, the ability to play a version of Breakout for free.

If you go to the handheld device's Internet browser and then go to “New Page,” you can unlock the retro game when you use the stylus to tap out the theme to Super Mario Bros. on the lower screen. The “Bookmarks” label will change to “Stage Select.” Now choose any of the options below, and the screen will automatically change to play a quick game of Breakout.

Fun fact: Before they co-founded Apple, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs helped create and design Breakout when Jobs worked at Atari during the early 1970s.

8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32

UncommonGoods

Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20

Amazon

People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

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Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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