Nintendo Switch Review: Buying Advice And Tips For Maximum Fun

Nintendo Switch: Design And Hardware

Currently, there are two versions of the Switch, one that ships with gray Joy-Con controllers and another SKU that includes neon blue and neon red Joy-Con controllers. Everything else is identical between the two, including the color of the actual console (gray) and cost ($299.99 plus sales tax). Given how fast Switch consoles fly off of store shelves, your choice might not come down to color preference, but whatever is available.

Nintendo Switch Contents

Finding a Switch in stock is a difficult task. You pretty much have to know when a store is receiving a shipment, and then arrive early enough to nab one. In my case, I lined up outside a Toys R Us store more than an hour before it opened on one of the days it was supposed to receive a shipment. Lucky for me, I was number six in line, with the store having received 10 total units.

All of the hype and anticipation of landing a switch leads up to the long-awaited unboxing. Seen here are all the contents—the actual tablet/console, TV dock, left and right Joy-Con controllers, two Joy-Con wrist-straps, a dummy grip, power cord with AC adapter, HDMI cable, and a warranty card. Not included in the box is a user manual, soft-cloth wipe, or any games to get you started.

Folks, your upfront cost is just the beginning. Nintendo offers a range of accessories and depending what you're interested in, the Switch can quickly become a money pit. Here is a partial list of optional add-ons:
It's easy to spend $100 or more on accessories, and of course there are the games. Titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe run $59.99 each. Buying a Switch is sort of like bringing home a motorcycle—there is the initial expense, plus the cost of gear and gas. Before you know it, you're looking at your bank account wondering what the hell happened to your balance. Such is the struggle of being a gamer, right?

Nintendo Switch Tablet

You'll feel better at having dropped a wad of cash on the Switch when you pick it up and start to play with it, though. The actual console portion comes in the form of a premium feeling tablet with a 6.2-inch 720p multi-touch display. Nintendo doesn't earn itself any bragging rights at that resolution, but there was never a moment when I was using the Switch that I thought to myself, "Damn, I wish there were more pixels!" I was too busy flipping through setup screens and, eventually, navigating Zelda. Screen resolution aside, the display is bright and vibrant with very good viewing angles.

Nintendo also did a good job in keeping the Switch's weight in check. It weighs 0.88 pounds with both Joy-Con controllers attached, and 0.66 pounds by itself. I didn't notice any fatigue from gaming for long stretches. Even if I had, I could have solved the problem by setting the Switch up in Tabletop mode and detaching the Joy-Con controllers.

Nintendo Switch USB-C

There is a USB-C port on the bottom of the Switch to allow for charging over a standard connector.

Nintendo Switch Top Ports

Up top you'll find a power button, volume up/down buttons, a cooling vent, 3.5mm audio jack for connecting headphones, and a slot for inserting tiny game cartridges. I'm not so keen on the plastic cover that protects the game cartridge slot, which feels comparatively flimsy to what is otherwise a mostly solid build. I have to assume that Nintendo did its research here, I'm just not real confident in the cover's long-term durability.

Not shown here is a microSD card slot. It's hidden under the kickstand on the back. You'll need to know the location, unless you plan on getting by with the Switch's paltry 32GB of built-in storage, part of which is already allocated to the operating system. It helps that games ship on cartridges, but a single title purchased as a digital download can be enough to force the purchase of microSD card.

Nintendo Switch Kickstand

Nintendo Switch Tabletop

The other (and primary) reason to flip open the kickstand is to use the Switch in Tabletop mode, either by yourself or with friends gathered around. It does an okay job of propping up the Switch, though it's not super sturdy. I found it worked best on hard, smooth surfaces. Light bumps are enough to knock the Switch over, especially if you've propped the console up on an uneven surface or carpet. If anyone from Nintendo is reading this, having a second kickstand on the opposite side would likely alleviate the issue, as it would have better balance.

If you forget to close the kickstand and try to jam the Switch into the TV dock with it open, it will snap off, or so I'm told. I haven't actually tested this because I've also heard stories where the kickstand is never quite the same afterward. Since this is the only other flimsy part of the Switch, you'll want to get in the habit of closing the kickstand when not in use.

What's Up Dock?

Nintendo Switch Dock Back

The included TV dock for the Switch isn't overly fancy and it certainly is not complex. Once you have it hooked up, you just slide the Switch into the opening and you can start gaming on your big screen TV in 1080p. When you remove the Switch from the dock, it transitions seamlessly to the built-in display, allowing you to pick up right where you left off.

Nintendo Switch Docked

There is a cover on the backside of the dock that reveals a USB-C connector, USB 3.0 port, and HDMI output. You can think of the dock as a glorified USB-C hub, as it taps into the Switch and transfers the signal over to your TV. It also has two USB 2.0 ports on the side

The dock also serves as the charging station for your Switch, or you can attach the AC adapter directly to the Switch's USB-C port. It can be a bit inconvenient swapping the AC adapter between the two, which is a reason to spend $29.99 on a another one.

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