The next piece of hardware from Nintendo is finally here. The Switch is Nintendo’s stab at a home console – handheld hybrid and it nails it. Having a system that looks and feels great in portable mode that can then be plugged into the dock and instantly transfers to your television making it a home console is nothing short of impressive.
Immediately upon unboxing the Switch, you notice the build quality of everything in the box. While the dock itself is somewhat cheap feeling the Joy Con’s and the Switch feel like premium pieces of hardware. The unit has a little more heft to it than i had thought it would and the Joy Con’s are extremely nice both on their own and when in the grip. While in the grip, it feels like legitimate controller. It’s solid and not cheap feeling. Size wise its only slightly smaller than an Xbox One controller. The buttons and triggers feel nice but they are a little small so if you have larger hands, even though in the grip it’s a great controller, it might be worth looking into getting a pro controller. When connected to the console in handheld mode the Joy Con’s feel extremely comfortable. All connected the unit is larger than all other handhelds so fitting it in your pocket could prove challenging. The screen itself has a beautiful display. Being around the size of an amazon fire tablet you wont find yourself struggling to see your games while playing.
The Joy Con’s are unique in that they can be used as two separate controllers. This makes the spur of the moment multiplayer session with your family or friends quick and easy to set up. The console comes with straps that slide onto the Joy Con giving them a slightly bigger design and makes them much more comfortable when used individually. Some users have been reporting sync issues, specifically with the left Joy Con. After many hours of game play and using the Joy Con controllers not only in handheld mode but in the grip, separated but still as one controller, and also as two separate controller for local multiplayer I have yet to have a single issue with them. Some are saying that this could be caused my interference from other hardware you may have around your Switch or just your positioning so keep this in mind when you set the unit up or if you are having any issues.
The Switch sports a 6.2 inch 1280 x 720 LCD touch screen. When in handheld mode the screen outputs 720p and while docked its outputs to your television at 1080p via HDMI. It has 32 GB of internal storage with the option for external memory via a micro sd up to a 2 TB. For audio it’s compatible with 5.1ch Linear PCM output and outputs via HDMI connector in TV mode. It uses a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Currently they don’t support blue tooth headsets although some have found a work around it seems. The system, given the hybrid style, has opted to use cartridges rather than discs. As far as battery life the Joy Con’s have around a 20 hour battery life and the Switch while in handheld mode can range anywhere from 3-6.5 hours depending on the game.
Of course a vital part of every console is the UI. Upon booting the Switch up for the first time I found setup to be very easy and actually quite fast. Setting up your accounts and linking them was virtually painless. Once all set up you will notice the UI for the device has an extremely clean and minimalist feel. Everything is snappy and instant. The top left corner of the screen shows all the profiles and makes it easy to swap who’s profile you are on. Not only that but when you launch a game it asks you which profile to launch it under. It makes for easy use if you have multiple profiles on your Switch. Along the bottom of the screen you have a few icons making for simple navigation. The first, a red conversation bubble, is a news icon. This will show you things like announcements, general info, or even early game-play for an upcoming title. Next, in the form of a yellow shopping bag icon, is the eshop. Now this eshop could honestly be the most simple and easy to use design of all the consoles. The minimal design offers a few options with a search tab, “Recent Releases” showing you what has just come out, “Coming Soon” for those upcoming titles, and an “Enter Code”. After that you will find the icon labeled “Album” that looks like a blue picture. A feature on most consoles now is the ability to take a screen shot quickly. Nintendo has added this feature with a screen shot button on the controller. It takes an instant screen shot of whatever is on your screen. Again extremely fast and easy. Then going to your album you will find all those screen shots and you can edit them, add text, and if you have a social media account linked you can share them. The little grey controller icon is exactly what you would imagine. Going in there will let you setup your Joy Con’s how you would like. If you want to use them as two controllers or one and lets you set which one is which also. The system settings keeps with the ease and minimal nature of the console. Lastly is sleep mode which, when in sleep mode, comes awake quicker than my PS4 and Xbox One.
There are a few things that users may or may not be fond of. For instance, some might find the absence of apps like Netflix or YouTube a big misstep at launch. It would be nice for some to have those options so they could utilize the hybrid nature of the devise. Granted most everyone now has plenty of other devises to do all those things on. I personally don’t find it to be an issue. Others have taken issue with the number of titles available at launch. There is a small amount of games to play, yes, but there are some pretty great games also. Not to mention that Nintendo has a steady stream of games coming for the foreseeable future including over 60 “nindie” titles as well as huge first and third party AAA games.
Nintendo has something special with the Switch. The hybrid nature of the console makes it great for playing console quality games on the go or from the comfort of your living room. The Switch has an elegant design that looks as good as it feels to play. The lack of apps and number of games at launch might make some wait. The lack of virtual console is somewhat of a bummer also. But the Switch has alot of potential and promise as Nintendo listened to everyone’s feedback and looks to be fully behind supporting the devise with a plethora of games on the horizon. There are already some great games on the console and the ground work is set for Switch to potentially Nintendo’s best device in a long time.