Nintendo Switch technical parameters are scarce data. In complete contrast to Sony and Microsoft, the manufacturer does not attach much importance to information about the characteristics of the device. It is known that the hardware base will “arrive” from NVIDIA in the form of a representative of the Tegra family.
Which of the Tegra chips will be used, most likely, will not become known until the official start of sales, when, accordingly, all the veils of secrecy will be torn down. Presumably, this could be a modification or even a potential successor to the Tegra X1, which will also be used in the Shield console.
This “system on a chip” based on ARM architecture supports all current video formats, including 4K at 60 Hz. It also decodes H.256 content with 10-bit color and HDR. A prerequisite for this is the presence of an HDMI 2.0 port, which cannot be said with certainty yet.
On the contrary, early evidence suggests that the Switch will only feature HDMI 1.4a, which enables 4K video transmission at a maximum frequency of 30Hz. This data, however, refers only to video content and not to video games. Thus, the Switch can serve as a great streaming console if Nintendo implements appropriate software support by releasing suitable applications.
It is known, however, that the tablet included with the Nintendo Switch will feature a 720p panel. Accordingly, the hardware stuffing should be good enough so that all outgoing games are displayed on the display without hesitation. The maximum 1080p will be available on the TV, while some games can use 900p.
Contrary to the old rumors, the docking station will most likely not serve as a “springboard” for increasing productivity, but will only provide interfaces for connecting to a TV and a USB port, and will also act as a charger for a tablet. By the way, the size of the built-in memory is 32 GB — it seems to us that this will not be enough.
Instead, we would like to see 64, 128 or even 256 GB of flash memory corresponding to the time. The fact that the Switch won’t have 500 GB or 1 TB of space is obvious given the type of drive it uses. However, the built-in memory can be expanded with MicroSD memory cards up to 2 TB. So far, however, there are no such large memory cards on sale, a maximum of 256 GB, and they cost only 1.5 times cheaper than the Switch itself.
First hands-on test of the Nintendo console
At a special event hosted by Nintendo, we were able to test Switch in all areas of its application and get a first impression of the games planned for release. First, about the console as such: at first glance, we really liked the display of the Switch tablet. The resolution is well suited for a panel of this size.
In addition, there is a pleasant brightness, a visual feeling of good color reproduction compared to a TV picture, and excellent viewing angle stability, so that friends can easily watch you play from any position.
In contrast to the significantly poorer display of the 3DS, in the Switch, Nintendo has installed a screen that can be considered at the level of good tablet computers. Since all these practical impressions were obtained as part of an event organized by the manufacturer, at a stand with a permanently connected power supply, it is not yet necessary to draw final conclusions about the characteristics of the device.
Another feature is the two controllers, which Nintendo called the Joy-Con. These multifunctional control devices can be used on their own, connected to a tablet, or fixed in special holders for TV mode gaming.
They are made durable, feel expensive to the touch, but may be a bit small for large hands. Both Joy-Cons are equipped with an analog stick, four round buttons, trigger and trigger, and vibration motors. In local multiplayer, they can be used by two players. When connected to a tablet or holders, they work as a single control unit for playing in solo mode.
A couple of words about games: about 6 weeks before the start of sales, Nintendo plays with open cards and impressively demonstrates what a modern adventure “Zelda” should look like. Breath of the Wild is a lot of fun, and with a pinch of realism spiced with Cel Shading technology, it looks better than some blockbusters on powerful competitor platforms.
1–2‑Switch should prove itself to be a great party game thanks to its cool modes, but we think it would be better if it came as a free app with every console. Thus, it was possible to kill the effect of “Wii Sports” in the bud.
Mario Kart 8 is, of course, a lot of fun on Switch too. Probably, this game will attract buyers with its multiplayer mode. We also attribute great potential to “Super Mario Odyssey”, which we have not yet had time to play by the time this article was published.
Should you buy a Nintendo Switch?
When a new game console enters the market, the question usually arises — what can it oppose to competitors in terms of performance? In the case of the Switch, it is quite clear that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are ahead in terms of pure arithmetic performance. However, this is, as they say, “only half the truth”, as Nintendo clearly demonstrates how the transition from a “stationary” to a “mobile” state can be carried out in the gaming field.
At the same time, we don’t feel any interest from the Japanese in performance competition with powerful consoles from Microsoft and Sony. Instead, they stand out with their concept, developing interesting features, and taking the evolution of console gaming to a new level. In short: PS4 and Xbox One are more of a “desktop” from our point of view, while the Switch positions itself as a “mobile device” with stationary components.
It is likely that some questions will remain open until the launch of the console for sale. First of all, battery life can be a critical point in making a purchase decision. At the Nintendo event, nothing could be found out regarding this parameter, since all Switch consoles were “hard” tied to the mains. The manufacturer himself speaks of a “plug” of 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the game.
In the case of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, the battery should last for 3 hours. That should be enough for short trips or daily commutes between home and work — the Switch won’t survive long trips without help. Such help may well turn out to be a power bank, because the tablet module can be charged via the USB Type‑C port not only by connecting to the docking station, but also on the go.
It is important to say about the price. Without games, the console in Russia will cost 22,500 rubles. The package includes a tablet, two Joy-Con controllers, a docking station and all necessary cables for operation. Games are not included in this package. Currently, the adventure “Zelda” will have to pay 4500 rubles, and for “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” — about 4000 rubles. “1–2‑Switch”, however, will cost 3,000 rubles — too much for a title that should be included with the console for free.
Thus, anyone who wants to purchase a Switch with “Zelda” will have to shell out 27,000 rubles. Optionally, you can take a Pro-controller for 4500 rubles or a charging holder for Joy Con for 2000 rubles. In general, including taking into account the young target audience and families, it seems to us that this is not very cheap. In addition, Nintendo products are relatively stable in terms of cost — extreme cheapness is not to be expected.
On the other hand, the Switch doesn’t look too overpriced, as a good Android tablet will also set you back $20,000-$30,000, and here it comes with a docking station and two dedicated controllers. Whether or not you should pick up the console right away depends on your love of Zelda. Those who don’t have enough first games — and the starting lineup of just two titles is surprisingly small — can wait until the end of 2017, and then pay attention to the console again.
And those who already own the Wii U can now play Mario Kart 8 on it (albeit with less detail) and, from March 3, in Breath of the Wild.
Chip’s opinion: During the first test, the Nintendo Switch showed great potential — at least as a portable console with some additional features. The quality and functionality of the tablet and controllers are at a very good level.
Switching between a mobile and a stationary state can hardly be easier either. Questions currently remain only about the battery life in the game mode and the relatively high cost, given the target audience.