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.

First look at the Nintendo Switch game console
The Switch is both a portable and TV 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.

Joy-Cons are fixed in a spe­cial hold­er

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.

First look at the Nintendo Switch game console
The Leg­end of Zel­da: Breath of the Wild is a gam­ing high­light with­out ques­tion

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.

First look at the Nintendo Switch game console
Nin­ten­do Switch can also be con­trolled using Pro con­trollers

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.