It's Nintendo's flagship console, but how does it stack up for a person who has never owned a console.

Descending from from the PC master race, with its competitively priced games, competitively priced and designed controllers.
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It's got a few immediate problems that really hurt it... primarily stemming from a bad design or what I would call executive meddling. So it's time to look at the most important, and innovative part first... it's probably the first successful decision from Nintendo since the original 3DS.

Fun Fact: Pokemon Go was made by Niantic Labs, a startup from Google.

The Dock

After the failure that was the Wii U, where the handheld was the accessory, Nintendo surprisingly got it right this time, and made the TV the accessory.

The dock is a small U shaped bit of ABS plastic, with a USB3.1 Type-C connector on the bottom, two USB2.0 connectors on the left side, and an USB3.1 Type-C power receptacle, USB3.0 connector, and HDMI port hidden behind a small flap on the back. There are two small cutouts in the back of the U to provide air to the air intakes on the bottom of the Switch, one of which is drawn over the Dock's internal circuitry that provides the HDMI and powered USB hub.

You can plug a USB ethernet adapter into the dock to give the Switch wired connectivity, if you can't connect it to wireless. Surprisingly you can't hook a USB stick up, to copy screen-shots off the device, or to manually apply updates.

The big gorilla in the room is the lack of Toughened glass, that highly scratch resistant and strong glass that is used on any modern touch screen. The Switch doesn't have that, instead they went for a more cheaper plastic touch screen. Meaning it scratches incredibly easily, so easily that I don't want to put anything else in the same pocket as the Switch, since the screen will get scratched.

At least they designed the included dock to have nice soft rubber bumpers on the sides at the top so that it doesn't scratch the screen as you put it in right?

Nope. The Dock is made out of ABS which is well known for its strength. There are 4 tiny bumpers, at the bottom, solely to provide a small retention force on the Switch inside the Dock to stop if from sliding out.


Now Nintendo probably wanted me to buy their Tempered Glass screen (For $25), but since I got a solid case for it so it won't get scratched when I transport it outside, I decided to cut a 50mm long strip of 25mm wide loop fastener in half and stick it on the screen side of the Dock guiding rails, which reduces the wobble of the Switch inside the Dock, and stops it from scratching the screen. And given it's about the same depth as the official Nintendo Tempered Glass screen, and there's a lot of play in the hollow front section, it shouldn't be a problem in the long term.

The Controllers

The Switch ships with two Joy-Cons, there is also a $120 NZD Pro Controller which is an "Optional Accessory" which is an Xbox One controller, but more expensive, and just a little bit worse in every way.

The Joy-Cons are completely designed by Nintendo and it shows. The left Joy-Con is perfectly designed, it's ergonomic and functional at the same time. The right one, not so much. Nintendo's desire to make them the symmetric when split from the console has really harmed the use of them when they are connected to the console. I'm sure it's possible to use it in a way that wouldn't cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from the Switch ramming into your Carpal Tunnel, but it's proving difficult (and a little bit painful) to find that way.

Although each Joy-Con has full motion tracking, as well as two shoulder buttons which allow you to use each one as a fully fledged controller for local multiplayer. Which is nice since Nintendo isn't going to launch an online service until sometime in 2018!

But this is a little bit of a letdown since the designed tolerance to allow the Joy-Cons to slide in without any problems, causes quite a bit of a wobble when you are holding the console through the Joy-Cons, when game designers use that for a precision targeting feature. It's quite easy to overcome, just lightly twist or pull the Joy-Cons tight against the Switch and it becomes amazingly useful. Although all the games that I have played so far don't tell you that this is a feature so you get confused as the marker wobbles around without you pushing the sticks.

The Switch

The start up is a breeze... if you use WPA2. If you live in a dorm, or apartment, or (like I do) run a AD server and use 802.1x (An Username and Password) to authenticate with network, you're not going to have any luck getting this to join to that. Nintendo didn't program the UI to allow for it. Luckily Ubiquiti makes it a breeze to create a new WPA2 Wireless network on any of their devices so I could get it online to do the inevitable System Update to fix all the bugs.

After waiting for the device to update, I put a 64GB Micro SD in... and was prompted with another system update for it to work. Put in Zelda, needed another system update for that to update. Opened Nintendo eShop, you guessed it another update.

So if you do buy one, while you are waiting for the avalanche of updates to complete, go to Nintendo and sign up, since that is an involved process as well with a lot of typing numbers from one window to another, and you can't do any of it on the Switch.

Oh and it doesn't tell you this, you have to turn the device completely out to remove the "Hot-swappable" MicroSD... Although you don't need to shut it down it to put it in. Given that Write cache's have existed for ever, and the only thing that isn't automatically recoverable are screenshots, and there's 32GB of inbuilt storage that can temporarily hold any unwritten images. The only question I have to ask is why didn't Nintendo program the OS to be more safe?

But as soon as you learn the very few navigation rules (A = Confirm, B = Back, X = Close, - or + = Options) you can seamlessly navigate through every single menu without any thought.

The 6.5 inch screen, ignoring the fact it's easily scratchable, is amazing. Text is readable, even if the game designer used a text size that rendered it as 0.5cm tall, handles almost all lighting conditions. But the implementation in games isn't as good.

Sure some games have no doubt programmed their own implementation and used it insanely well... But the Nintendo implementation which almost all games publishers will use, leaves less to be desired. At least on the one game I own, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, draws all the text and icons with a proportional height, which is easily readable when on a TV or monitor, but when on a 6.5 inch screen, it's insanely hard to read. This makes some of the Cutscenes incredibly hard to follow in loud environments since the subtitles are so small, and fast.

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Given Nintendo advertised that programmers don't need to consider the difference between the screen sizes, but clearly they need to, or Nintendo need to put a minimum text and icon size on the internal screen.

The Games

There are quite a few games available on the Switch, admittedly most of them are ports of Neocom games, or the mandatory street fighter clones, but this is where some pain really kicks in.

There is a single game on the Switch that has also been ported to PC... LEGO City Undercover. At the time that this review is being published.
On Steam it's NZ$ 54.95
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On Nintendo's eShop it's NZ$ 104.95
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This is probably the only reason I wouldn't get any other consoles, they are mini-monopolies. You can't have any competition on the Switch (Or any other console), since all games must go through the manufacturer to be allowed to run on the Switch, either for Physical copies or Digital copies. Whereas on PC, you can go direct to the publisher, or through GoG, Steam, Origin, Humble Bundle just to name a few. And there is no requirement for publishers to go to the OS vendor to get it signed to run on the PC.
If I had to give this an subjective score I would give it a 5 of 10.
Which sums up my feelings for the Nintendo Switch, for every positive reason I could think of, I could also think of an equally bad reason not to.

The Joy-Cons have great functionality, but there is no way to use all the features without some part of your hand hurting.
The screen has great resolution, but scratches really easily.
The dock is amazing to use and makes it easy to charge it after a day out, but scratches the screen.
The wireless is amazing, but Nintendo's UI doesn't support 802.1X

Sure they can be fixed by Nintendo releasing them as "Optional" accessories. It's like Nintendo took other AAA Game producers and applied their approaches for Game DLC, but on used it on hardware... Strip the good parts out and sell them at an inflated price after the release.

It feels like they Nintendo's engineers were designing a killer console which it so easily could be... which was then ruined by Nintendo's executives trying to increase their profit.