NINTENDO SWITCH Review

IS NINTENDO’S NEW SWITCH THE ULTIMATE HOME/PORTABLE ‘COMBO’ CONSOLE, OR A FLAWED COMPROMISE?

[ JON PORTER ]

HAVING USHERED IN the modern console landscape back in the day, Nintendo’s focus of late has been on trying out weird and wonderful ideas with each new hardware release — a trend that’s continued with its latest console, the Nintendo Switch. The idea here is that it’s one piece of hardware that can function as both a 1080p home console and a 720p handheld, allowing you to seamlessly transition from playing your games at home to taking them on the go.

For the most part, the Switch delivers well on this premise. It’s a solid, premium-feeling handheld and works as you’d expect a home console to work when you slip it into the charging dock, which also outputs to your TV via HDMI.

In terms of hardware, you get the main body of the console, plus two detachable controller sides, a grip which enables you to combine these controller portions into a more traditional gamepad, two straps which can be attached to these sides to make them slightly better when used as individual controllers, and a dock that allows you to plug the console into your television.

You’re right if you think that sounds like a lot of stuff and these multiple roles mean the controllers end up being jacks of all trades and, unfortunately, masters of none. They’re not unusable, but the lower positioning of the right stick, in particular, can cause some thumb discomfort after longer sessions.

The Xbox One and PS4 pads are, in comparison, far more comfortable — although they have the advantage of only having to do one thing well.

For a much better experience in the Switch’s docked console mode, we recommend picking up a Pro Controller.

The launch line-up of games is perhaps a little thin, too — Zelda is the one real standout title (and if you’re a fan, it’s almost worth buying the console for), but there’s no Mario, Metroid, F-Zero or Mario Kart to join it, although the Mario titles have at least been confirmed as in development, as is Skyrim and a reasonably promising selection of indies.

In use, the Switch does work best as a portable device in its handheld configuration; this sees you attach the Joy-Cons to the left and right edges of the screen and then use the console much like the PlayStation Vita.

Its vibrant 720p display is crisp and bright, and you might also find that certain games perform better in handheld mode due to its lower resolution.

The way the console transfers the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be — you don’t even have to pause your current game as it happens completely in real time.

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Nintendo Switch with Gray Joy-Con

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Last update was in: 2017-05-23 4:52 am

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Internally, the Switch is using an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is broadly similar to what was found in the Nvidia Shield. That’s not a bad thing, considering the Shield is a 4K-capable set-top box but, as a portable device, the Switch needs to make compromises to ensure a good battery life. When actively playing the new Zelda, we got around 2.5 hours, which was enough to cover our commute to and from work in a single day before we recharged the Switch overnight. docked console mode, we recommend picking up a Pro Controller.

The launch line-up of games is perhaps a little thin, too — Zelda is the one real standout title (and if you’re a fan, it’s almost worth buying the console for), but there’s no Mario, Metroid, F-Zero or Mario Kart to join it, although the Mario titles have at least been confirmed as in development, as is Skyrim and a reasonably promising selection of indies.

In use, the Switch does work best as a portable device in its handheld configuration; this sees you attach the Joy-Cons to the left and right edges of the screen and then use the console much like the PlayStation Vita.

Its vibrant 720p display is crisp and bright, and you might also find that certain games perform better in handheld mode due to its lower resolution.

The way the console transfers the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be — you don’t even have to pause your current game as it happens completely in real time.

Internally, the Switch is using an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is broadly similar to what was found in the Nvidia Shield. That’s not a bad thing, considering the Shield is a 4K-capable set-top box but, as a portable device, the Switch needs to make compromises to ensure a good battery life. When actively playing the new Zelda, we got around 2.5 hours, which was enough to cover our commute to and from work in a single day before we recharged the Switch overnight.

CRITICAL SPECS
6.2-inch 720p LCD; Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC; 4GB DDR4 memory; 32GB internal flash storage; microSD slot (supports cards up to 2TB); detachable Joy-Con controllers; up to 1080p output via HDMI/ charging dock; 802.11ac Wi-Fi;
4,310mAh Lithium-ion battery; 401g (with Joy-Cons attached)

8 Total Score
NINTENDO SWITCH

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