It tends to be a matter of time before I checkout Nintendo consoles and my time came this weekend for a Nintendo Switch. These things are still fairily rare to find in stock but I scooped on up @ a local shop that restocked a few days prior. 8 consoles moved in less than a week and when I got mine someone also bought the last one in stock. This console retails for $300 before tax, presuming you can find one in stock. Amazon has a bunch on hiked up prices.
The switch is essentially a hybrid of the Wii U with a little inspiration from the 3DS as well. Your games are cartridges that insert into the switch tablet. You can play on the go or on your TV, by docking the switch display. The Switch tablet has a USB Type-C connector on the bottom that it plugs into the dock with or can be charged with a USB cable. Of note on the USB charging that it is a high-power power supply that comes with the Switch. I say this because I was charging with my Samsung S8 High-speed charger and C-cable last night but the tablet power was still going down despite being plugged in… similar to how older phones would drain faster than they could charge, when using HDMI output cables with in-line power.
Recap here being, if you want to play with the device in tablet mode, you will want to plug in the charger that came with it, or buy another one of the Nintendo official ones, for the correct output to properly charge it while you are playing.
Battery life looks to be approximately 3 hours or so on maximum brightness. I was playing Zelda: BotW last night in bed for this rough test and this is also when I discovered the lower charging from other USB Type-C chargers. Speaking of charging, the USB C port is on the bottom of the console. So I would suggest the Hori standing case if you plan to play on the go, if you want the ability to charge from an external battery pack. If you opt to buy a 2nd Charger for the Switch, they go for $30.
The power supply specs of the officially licensed power supply are:
Output: 5.0 V – 1.5 A
15.0 V – 2.6 A
Accessories for the Switch are pretty costly. The included gear will work great for 1 person, or 2 people playing Mario Kart, but some games require a 2nd pair of JoyCon controllers. A Pair of JoyCons go for $80 and the play and a 2nd charge controller mount that comes with the console goes for $15. So you are looking at $95 for a 2ns JoyCon gamepad.
You can also get a Pro controller for $70. It’s like the Pro controller for the Wii U that shares form-factor with a Playstation or Xbox gamepad. Player 2 can put you out a little more money than you may have expected. In defense of the JoyCon pads, they are impressive and slim profile, while also having gyro capabilities. All of the controllers also have rumble support (that can be turned off as well).
Controller rundown, is that you can slide the JoyCon controllers directly to the Switch console / display and play like that. You can also use the JoyCons (A pair, one Left, one Right controller) kind of like wands (labeled Grips in the console system settings), or you can insert them into the Play and Charge housing, that makes it like a mini-gamepad. There are slide-on wrist strap and side-button extensions you can use when playing in what I call, Wand mode.
Wand mode is extra-handy for playing Breath of the Wild, as you can use the gyros in them to aim your bow. Having played some VR, this is a nice feature that is comparable to control in a VR game, but with the Switch when playing off a standard screen or the console display.
The Switch console has a slot for the game cartridges on the top-right as I mentioned. There is also a Micro-SD slot under the stand up arm on the read of the display. The JoyCons slide into the sides of the console display. Be sure to match up the + and – signs when using the JoyCons, else they may get stuck in place. There is a small button on the back that works as a release. Also there is a locking mechanism by the wrist-strap portion of the JoyCons when you install them. Push them in to lock it on the rails.
The power button is along the top-left and volume controls are next to the power button. You can hold the home button for a few seconds to get a brightness and volume control overlay. The Switch also supports quick-suspend power, so you can put it to sleep until you get a chance to charge it back up. It is similar to hibernate on your laptop but it works faster and seemingly more cleanly.
When the console is docked, you have access to 3x USB ports (non-Type-C), a HDMI Port and the AC adapter input for a Type-C charger. If you still have the DaTel USB NIC from the Original Wii, that will natively work with your Switch when it’s docked if you want to run a wired connection.
Miiverse is a robust gaming community run by Nintendo and filled with gamer-contributed content on the Wii U. Sadly, this is not on the Switch (yet) and the current Wii U Miiverse shuts down this November 7th 2017. I am speculating but suspect the Switch Miiverse will be online somewhere around the Winter or early 2018. Currently there is a News section of the console with game info and video content about upcoming and current releases. At the time of writing, there are about 133 items on the Nintendo eShop for the Switch. There is also a local Album where you can view your screenshots saved (from the dedicated screencap button on the left joycon).
Software selection included with the console, is honestly currently lackluster. You really should pickup a game when you buy one, unless you intend to download something from the store. You do still have access to Mii editor from the System Settings screen. You can make multiple users and also import Miis from your Wii U or 3DS, by using an Amiibo between the consoles. I was able to copy over some Wii characters I got off the internet, when I was using Bluetooth hacks to import Web characters into my original Wii controllers, that were on my Wii U most recently.
I’m enjoying the console so far and even started another play of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on here. The extra graphics in details like the water, grass and draw distance are nice on the Switch. I would not say necessarily to get a Switch for playing Zelda if you already have a Wii U, but the native controls are nicer than trying to do similar things with the Wii U pad, as you are implied to with the Switch tablet. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is crisp and also includes all the DLC for the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8. I am looking to check out that RTS Mario and Rabbids game soon too but that will wait for another payday.
I wanted to mention a range of observations about the console so far. For point of reference I am on System Firmware 3.0.2. I’m looking forward to extra software to come for the device, as there are currently no Netflix or applications like that yet on the eShop. The new Mario Odyssey game is also due out around the end of October and there are a few other games coming for the Holiday Season. Skyrim and Doom on the go may be of special interest to folks too. I look forward to bringing mine various places and jamming out some play. I’m actually about to get some rounds of Mario Kart in now.
I know that is quite a set of text, especially without images to break it out. I may throw some pics in there for portions that may not be clear. Speaking of questions, there are 2 types of Joy-Con grips. The included one with the console does not have charging support and to charge them, you have to dock them to the Switch display. You can get another one of the Non-charging controller casings for ~ $10. There is also a charger model of the Joy-Con grip that costs $30 and looks exactly the same, with the exception of a USB Type-C connector on the top.
Let me refactor the math for an extra pair of Joy-Cons and the charging dock. 80 + 30 = $110.
Depending on the game controller support, it may be better cost and play wise, to get one of the Switch Pro Controllers for $70. Keep in mind there is a depth sensor (IR / Infrared) on the right Joy-Con but I think very few games use it currently.
I am replaying Zelda BotW currently and luckily a good share of it is still in my memory. I was able to play at the bus stop on an overcast day with zero issues. I am curious on the brightness in direct sunlight, but let’s be real, how often does anyone play in direct sunlight? :p I do have to say the console weight is nice. I want to say it seems lighter than a 3ds, but that may just be due to it being a little wider and less thick. I grabbed one of the Nintendo licensed PDP cases that holds the system well and offers good protection. Mobile friendly console for sure.
Using a line to link to the Nintendo Switch Specs on their site. I forgot to mention, this console comes with no manual. You get s a safety warning guide and you are own your own. Kind of wild how documentation fell to the wayside so quickly over the last few years.
I have some Type-C network and video adapters I am going to try out tonight. Mostly for curiosity of what works without the dock. Bringing that along certainly adds some heft to the mobile setup, if you want to hook to a monitor instead of playing on the console screen. I suspect the video adapters will not work, based on what I have seen about the charger voltage and prior experience with cell phone tv out cables and their need for a charger. I will update yay or nay on that testing. Edit: USB Type-C NIC works in switch directly. I have a Plugable Gigabit Type-C USB NIC that works directly plugged into a Switch. No charging required for a wired connection direct to the system without using the dock.
Display cables without a powered connection do not look to work directly into the Type-C connection on the Switch display.
Firmware update 4.0.0 released on 2017-10-18. Details @ Nintendo. The short of features are USB Headphones, Save backup support, Video capture support via Screenshot button long-press. Also are pre-purchase options on the eShop and local multiplayer version matching for games.
I can confirm that the Playstation Platinum Wireless headset work on the Switch both when the dongle is plugged into the dock and also when using a USB-C to USB adapter directly plugged into the bottom of the Switch in tablet mode. No fuss required as I new set of headphones worked by plugging it into the console. I saw mention that the dongle adapter needs to be removed to restore audio over HDMI when docked.
Logitech Keyboards also work. I plugged in a wireless K450 and I am able to type in the text boxes for posting images to twitter.