Nintendo Switch Hardware Review

Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
 
 

The Switch may just be a new console to some, but to Nintendo it represents a fresh start. Shedding off the Wii branding that they’ve been using for over a decade, their home/handheld hybrid incorporates lessons learnt from both the 3DS and Wii U.

After spending several weeks with the Switch, here are our thoughts.

Out of the Box

For our review, we received the following from Nintendo Australia:

  • Nintendo Switch
  • Dock
  • Joy-Con, straps, and grip
  • Power cable, and HDMI cable

The Review

Setting the Switch up is easy – simply attach the Joy-Con to the unit itself, plug in the power, and go. I did run in to some issues setting up my connection to the internet however. My wireless access point is about 5 meters away from the living room, at the end of a hallway. Getting the Switch to recognise it was a bit of a hassle, and connectivity was intermittent – a problem I don’t have with any other device in the same room.

Once you’ve walked through the system and wireless setup, you can connect the dock to your TV via HDMI. The first time that you slot the Switch into the dock, and it seamlessly moves your experience to the big-screen, is exciting. More than that though, it’s wholly unique from any other console on the market.

The Switch’s user interface is slick and easy to navigate. Taking cues from the PlayStation 4’s XMB, games and apps appear gridded in one row, with system-level features presented in their own static row underneath. Getting to the options you need is snappy, and some additional flair is added with cutesy sound effects. Also, I highly recommend you swap to the “Basic Black” colour scheme, as the white one can be a bit aggressive on the eyes.

The Joy-Con that you’ll be using to navigate menus and games are sturdy, with their build quality being leagues above that of the toy-like Wii U gamepad. Face buttons have a satisfying clackiness to them. Moreover, they don’t depress into their divots, so they can take a bit of a beating.

There are some issues with the Joy-Con however. When the system is docked and Joy-Con placed inside the grip, I found the left one lost connectivity periodically. This was despite having direct line-of-sight to the Switch, sitting about eight feet away. While Nintendo has detailed possible causes of interference – including other wireless signals, and aquariums – the reason was a lot more troubling. Occasionally I would cross my legs, and hold the controller in my lap, meaning my shin bone was enough to block the signal. Having to change my sitting patterns just to play a system sucks.

But if like me you’re using your Switch primarily in portable mode, this is a non-issue issue. The capacitive touch-screen isn’t as high resolution as something like an iPhone 6S, but the display is bright and sharp. On especially bright days it can be hard to see images on the screen, even after cranking up the brightness manually. In most cases though you’ll be wanting to keep that brightness down to preserve battery-life.

While the Switch may be the most powerful handheld on the market, the strength of that hardware does mean compromises had to be made. The battery life will range anywhere from two and a half hours, to six and a half. Graphically demanding titles like Zelda: Breath of the Wild lasted for about three, while something like Snipperclips saw me through longer periods of play. If you thought the Switch was going to be your replacement for the 3DS, you’ll have to temper your expectations; this isn’t a system you’ll have exclusively in your bag for weeks at a time.

There are some minor issues on the periphery too:

  • The kickstand feels like it's going to snap every time you fold it out
  • You can’t charge it when its propped up, as the bottom port is blocked by whatever surface the Switch is on
  • Removing the wrist-strap bumpers from the Joy-Cons is cumbersome, and feels like you’re going to break something
  • HD Rumble is weak in games not built around the concept
  • Unless you’re a Zelda fan, the launch library is slim
  • The Joy-Con grip feels flimsy, and looks like a Klingon Bird of Prey
  • The eShop has no background music

But despite these problems, I’m still enamoured by the Switch. It’s magical when you first move the system between the dock and hand-held mode, and the ease of that transition means it hasn’t yet lost its appeal. The Switch is the clearest vision Nintendo have had for a console in a decade, but they need to keep the momentum up to secure its place in the market. That means ensuring a steady flow of releases – from indies, and third parties.


Keith received a Switch from Nintendo Australia for review.




 

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Comments Comments (22)

 
Posted by siamese
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 3:30 PM
7
Waiting on the library to build up before taking the plunge. Holding off on Zelda is painful, but Im not sure I want to buy it on Wii U rather than wait until I eventually get a Switch.
 
 
 
Posted by Xaphriel
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 3:49 PM
9
In what possible way is something looking like a Bird of Prey an issue? That's awesome!
 
 
 
Posted by FreddlePopGameS
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 4:27 PM
3
Good write up Keith. I'm loving my console and have had no issues whatsoever. That's not to say I think it's perfect, in fact I think it's far from it. I do like that it offers a different experience then my PS4 and Xbox One which is why I think I'm just really enjoying the device for what it is.
 
 
 
Posted by MadDudeHorse
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 4:35 PM
2
If I commuted to work on public transport this console would be a no brainer. But as it stands, I wouldn't travel with it often enough to justify the portability of it and in docked mode I don't know if it would offer enough different from my Xbox One (to be fair I have never been hooked by Nintendo exclusives).
 
 
 
Posted by guido
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 5:12 PM
3
I got Breath of the Wild on Wii U as it's no different than the Switch version. I'll get a Switch only AFTER they release the games I want. I bought the Wii U on good faith that we'd get Zelda, Mario Galaxy & Metroid Prime sequels and got burned (although I did get it at a bargain price & did eventually get a Zelda)!
Your move Nintendo! I like the look of your hardware, just waiting on the games this time!
 
 
 
Posted by KatalystaKaos
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 5:14 PM
3
Thanks for the review Keith, can you confirm if the Switch has a Achievement/Trophy system in place? Whilst I'm not an absolute wh**e for those ( I do love looking back though on my past achievements) it will have a large bearing on whether or not we will hold off to play Zelda BotW on Switch or just purchase it for the Wii U.
 
 
 
Posted by FreddlePopGameS
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 5:45 PM
3
15 March 2017, 05:14 PM Reply to KatalystaKaos
Thanks for the review Keith, can you confirm if the Switch has a Achievement/Trophy system in place? Whilst I'm not an absolute wh**e for those ( I do love looking back though on my past achievements) it will have a large bearing on whether or not we will hold off to play Zelda BotW on Switch or just purchase it for the Wii U.
No achievement/trophy system yet and to be honest I wouldn't count on it, but you never know.
 
 
 
Posted by dr_zox
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 5:53 PM
4
15 March 2017, 03:30 PM Reply to siamese
Waiting on the library to build up before taking the plunge. Holding off on Zelda is painful, but Im not sure I want to buy it on Wii U rather than wait until I eventually get a Switch.
From what I understand there isn't much of a difference between switch and Wii U version (the creators even stated this).

I have the Wii U version and am enjoying it immensely
 
 
 
Posted by ptys
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 6:33 PM
2
I'm good with my Wii U, looking forward to Zelda. I think I'll wait a couple of years and see if they have a hardware version (although they never did one for the Wii U)?
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 7:25 PM
3
I'm loving my switch as a b*tchin handheld with a dock.

The fun I've had with my partner playing local co-op has me hopeful of Switch' s future.

Awesome review.
 
 
 
Posted by Rapidity
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 7:52 PM
4
Way to make me feel old

"Shedding off the Wii branding that they’ve been using for over a decade"

I can't believe the Wii was released over 10 years ago, that's nuts!
 
 
 
Posted by Bank
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 9:59 PM
7
Cannot wait to play my first Zelda. Gonna undock it to go everywhere with me; work, the mall, the loo, the grave.
 
 
 
Posted by hitokirix
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 10:38 PM
3
I had a power outage on the weekend so going portable mode came in handy :)
 
 
 
Posted by RSNZ64
On Wednesday 15 Mar 2017 11:01 PM
2
15 March 2017, 10:38 PM Reply to hitokirix
I had a power outage on the weekend so going portable mode came in handy :)
Haha awesome, definitely a great benefit.
 
 
 
Posted by Blackfox
On Thursday 16 Mar 2017 8:16 AM
4
i've learnt from the wiiu, so i'll wait to see more games this time
 
 
 
Posted by Tin-Automaton
On Thursday 16 Mar 2017 8:29 AM
3
15 March 2017, 03:49 PM Reply to Xaphriel
In what possible way is something looking like a Bird of Prey an issue? That's awesome!
I just want my controllers to look like normal things, y'know, like Breen Warships.
 
 
 
Posted by czk51
On Thursday 16 Mar 2017 8:30 AM
3
Definitely loving my Switch however still feels early days yet given the small game library. I believe over time the interface and eshop will change much like my PS4 / PSN UI has over the years. For instance they will be adding Video capture at some stage, and as the eshop becomes more populated we will see a more fleshed out folder system.

My console has not had any of the issues floating around *touch wood* so flawless experience for me so far.
 
 
 
Posted by Kyimo
On Thursday 16 Mar 2017 3:10 PM
2
good review.

if the launch line-up had anything interesting and a decent number of games i might have ended up getting one. (somehow)

if it had had a Zelda sized Pokemon game i would have done anything to get one.
but as it is now i see no reason to get one to put beside my other systems, or use instead of my 3DS.
 
 
 
Posted by Silvon
On Thursday 16 Mar 2017 6:55 PM
3
I am interested in getting the Switch, but just never felt like it was worth picking up day one. I might wait to see what's announced for it over the coming months and make my decision later on when to get it.
 
 
 
Posted by woollywol
On Friday 17 Mar 2017 9:33 PM
2
I had always planned to get the Switch around end of year, or even early 2018, and from everything I hear that's the right decision for me. There are clearly technical issues to be ironed out; the whole online functionality thing needs a lot more work; and the library needs to grow. I'm getting BoTW for my Wii U (might as well go out with a bang) - good to hear it's great, dr_zox. Considering the price of the console, and the high prices of cartridge games, it's not a purchase I would jump into on a whim.
 
 
 
Posted by TenguNZ
On Saturday 18 Mar 2017 2:55 PM
2
Going to wait for more games and a price drop. But keen on picking one up. Particularly for Zelda and Mario Kart.
 
 
 
Posted by jmduknz
On Monday 20 Mar 2017 3:29 PM
-
i"m one week into the switch and its holding up pretty well. There seems a fair amount of kit in the box and was simple enough to set up. After a frustrating wait for zelda to finally arrive filled with snipperclips demo (meh) and 1-2 switch (good but should have been bundled) I finally got underway at the weekend. I've tried docked with joy-con grip and hand-held. No jumps/skips or stutters. The transfer between the two modes really is as fast as it looks and zelda - awesome. I've been keeping my head out of any articles about it so am going in a blind as able and it's good. Really good. I like the new mechanics of cooking and breakable weapons, The over the top posturing and language that screams Japan.
I have one complaint - usb c cables are expensive. I thought I could just pick up one pretty easily but they come at much more than I thought. There is some incentive to get the pro-controller that comes with one or a separate charger but that's another 50-120nzd on top of what I've already laid out. Granted these are first world problems.

Great machine, To my friend the vita - thanks for the memories but our time is past.