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nintendo switch

Going Hands-On With Switch Answered Our Five Biggest Questions

by Ben Reeves on Jan 13, 2017 at 02:11 PM

Nintendo never aims for normal. The Xbox One and PS4 already out power the Switch, and the console hasn't even released. However, Nintendo isn't interested in releasing the most powerful console; it wants a console that does something different. The Switch is a system that plugs into your TV for traditional gaming, but that can also be mobile within seconds.

After spending a whole day getting my grubby mitts on the Switch's every configuration, I walked away more enthusiastic than ever about Nintendo's newest console.

For a detailed breakdown of the Switch's technical specs, read What We Know About Nintendo Switch.  

How fast can you switch between TV and mobile modes?
Almost instantly
- The Switch's debut showed people grabbing their Switch off the dock and immediately playing on the go, but I wondered if there was any editing trickery going on during that video. After "switching" between these two modes, however, I discovered that the system really does transform from a console into a handheld as quickly as that video made it look. There was a few second delay between putting the console in the dock and having whatever game it was running show up on your TV. However, I'm talking maybe 2-3 seconds; it only takes as long as your TV normally takes to register a new HDMI signal. As an added bonus, sliding the Joy-Cons into the tablet produces a satisfying click.

Are the individual Joy-Cons comfortable?
Not really
- They aren't the worst thing I've ever put in my hands, but they're not as comfortable as I'd like. They're smaller than the original NES controller, so after long play sessions, you're likely to feel some stiff fingers. The wrist strap adds some welcome bulk to each controller. However, each Joy-Con is offset a bit to the right or left (depending on which half of the controller you grab). I found the left controller to be more comfortable, but only marginally.

But they're fine when combined in controller mode, right?
- The Joy-Cons can be combined with the Joy-Con grip to create a more traditional controller setup. This controller feels 85 percent as comfortable as an Xbox One or PS4 controller. The added controller grip helps fill out the palms of your hands, and you can definitely get by with a Joy-Con grip while playing most games, but there are a few drawbacks. First, the square edginess of the Joy-Cons are more noticeable than you'd like and feel a little stiff against your hands. Second, the face buttons feel a bit like 3DS buttons. Finally, the shoulder buttons are especially small and have a short throw; I missed the analog triggers found on traditional gamepads. If you plan on playing a lot of games with the Switch hooked up to your TV, I recommend buying the Pro controller, which will set you back $70.

Is the rumble really that impressive?
I guess
- Nintendo made a big deal out of the Switch's HD rumble during its press conference, saying it could simulate the feel of ice cubes clinking around in a glass. One minigame in 1, 2 Switch actually makes use of this haptic feedback by simulating the feel of metal balls rolling around in a box, and to its credit, the Switch's rumble actually pulls off this simulation. However, I was rarely aware of this hi-fi rumble while playing any of the rest of the Switch's lineup. A few developers might make use of Nintendo's HD rumble in some inventive ways, but most games don't need this level of simulated rumbling.

How does the screen look?
Not bad
- Early rumors about the Switch's touchscreen said it would only have a resolution of about 720p, and those rumors were accurate. Some might be disappointed that the Switch has a resolution inferior to modern tablets, but the game's we played on the Switch's 720p screen still looked pretty good, and the slightly limited resolution likely helps conserve battery power. It's also worth noting that the Switch is capable of outputting in full 1080p when docked and hooked up to a television. Also noteworthy was the fact that most of the Switch's games didn't make use of the touchscreen, likely because they have to account for the fact that people could be playing with a controller while touchscreen is docked.