Tech Up! Nintendo Switch Hardware Review

By Adam Riley 01.03.2017 16

Since the moment the Wii U came out, many were wondering what Nintendo was doing, especially given its lacklustre software support at launch, and confusing marketing messages, even to the point of getting a rap on the knuckles for 'false advertising' over the fact that not all games used the GamePad, so it's play anywhere in the house concept only applied to specific releases. Also, most regular folk that lapped up Wii, and were not exactly into gaming in general, merely thought it was an add-on for the popular motion controlled platform. No such confusion with Nintendo Switch, though. "Play anytime, anywhere with anyone" is the motto, and it is being driven home hard. Cubed3 has had a week with the hardware and various accessories now, so how has it been holding up?

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What can be said about Nintendo Switch that has not already been revealed? Well, they say that a picture speaks a thousand words. How about 147, though? That is a lot of words, then. Be sure to check out that link, though, as it shows off all of Cubed3's photos of the hardware and accessories - from the Switch and its dock, to the Joy-Con in grey, neon red, and neon blue colours, the Pro Controller, and so on. The only thing missing so far is an arcade stick, but hey, HORI has you covered for that one with a plethora of official Switch goodies on the way, also including useful charge stands and screen protectors.

Want to check out a few of Cubed3's other articles on Nintendo Switch? See what the team felt about Switch after its initial reveal, take a look at the hands-on report from the Nintendo Switch Premiere event, or even the first look at the system from a week before launch, and there is always the taste of Breath of the Wild or the slew of hands-on preview articles for key Switch games. There has been coverage in abundance, and full reviews will start pouring in soon enough. For now, it is time to focus on the hardware, with Zelda's review to follow.

Wii U was great in many ways, but never lived up to expectations. Being the sort of gamer that can only dip in and out of titles, in-between a normal weekly working schedule, portable gaming has taken over, with the New Nintendo 3DS XL being the system of choice in recent years, and it had been hoped Wii U would be just as impressive, yet in British homes, especially older pre-1930 ones with thicker walls, the signal failed even just one room away from the base unit, meaning Wii U's portability was pretty much limited to either its room of origin, or the room below since floors are more penetrable for its magical mystery waves (technical name, obviously).

Nintendo Switch has been the hero of the day in that regard. After just one week of jumping between the two early review copies provided - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Just Dance 2017 - it has passed numerous tests in the comfort, durability, and flexibility stakes. Playing on the TV? Brilliant, even just using the Joy-Con separated for a bit of Zelda RPG action (juicy titbit for you all: there is some motion element included, and they are put to use in the most fantastic of ways). The Joy-Con grip (both charging version and vanilla, non-charging, edition) augments the experience and is the perfect alternative for those not wanting to fork out for an expensive Pro, but obviously the Pro is indeed king, even if it is simply because of its proper D-pad, as opposed to directional buttons…oh, and the fact it can work natively on PCs (great news, Steam gamers, right?). Relaxing on the sofa? No problem, since handheld mode works a treat, with Switch feeling like the real deal, making the GamePad of Wii U seem like nothing more than an early prototype. Want to show off the new Zelda adventure to the missus? Easy peasy. Just pull out the stand on the back, click in place, and slide those Joy-Con off the side to play away...or leave them in and connect up the Pro Controller. Whatever suits. If you have four Joy-Con and a grip, leave two attached to the Switch screen whilst in stand mode, and use the other two attached to the grip. Lots of options are available and help make Switch so accessible that having to go back to PlayStation 4, et al, and be stuck in one place is quite tiresome.

The dock is an intriguing beast. Seemingly just a random piece of plastic that does nothing more than transfer the action from portable to TV, it nevertheless serves its purpose extremely well, making that transition from handheld to home console device supremely easy and as smooth as it has to be in order to capture the attention of the masses. Nobody wants to spend loads of time fiddling around trying to sync back to the TV set, after all. As seen in various adverts so far, it really is as easy as slipping the Switch screen into the dock, and back out when required (okay, clearly the 'HD' option needs to be chosen on the monitor, as well!). Most will leave the Switch in the dock on its own, but if leaving the Joy-Con attached, everything charges up together, even if gameplay has been transferred to a bigger screen (anything with a HDMI, be it a large TV or decent enough sized computer monitor), it still charges whilst you use another controller. In fact, given how fresh from the box it is tricky to push the tiny black buttons on the back of the Joy-Con in to get them to un-clip themselves and slide off the screen easily, at first it will be less hassle to leave them connected, anyway, using a different controller when the Switch is docked. It really makes no difference if you have multiple controllers at home.

As for the interface of the system itself, it is clear and user-friendly, with the layout and ease of navigation using normal controls or the capacitive touch screen aimed at making Nintendo Switch as appealing to the non-hardcore gaming demographic as Wii was, but this time far more polished. Size is not a point of contention, either, with the portable screen working just fine for two people to crowd around, and the Joy-Con not being as bad as some have made out. Those bigger-handed folk out there - present company included - should be able to comfortably use the Joy-Con in general, and when the wrist-straps are attached, the Joy-Con are made slightly chunkier, and simpler to hold than before, so any lingering complaints some may have should quickly wash away.

There will be a Day One patch included that updates many features, including a News option, and the eShop, amongst other treats that will no doubt impress. For now, though, just the idea of being able to go from the big screen, to portable, or even to tabletop mode thanks to its funky little pop-out stand, with all manner of control combinations, makes for the ultimate gaming experience. Nintendo has definitely delivered the goods with Switch, and things can only get better from here on in.

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
This is by far the most stylish piece of hardware Nintendo has released so far, taking as many of the core elements from its past systems and amalgamating them into the wonderful Nintendo Switch. It has all of the sleekness expected from the likes of Sony and Microsoft, but still that quirky and family-friendly feeling that Nintendo is renowned for. This is the perfect system to play anytime, anywhere, with anyone. Objective complete. Now you're playing with power…

**If readers have any questions, please do ask away in the comments section**

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Did you experience the control disconnection issue that has been experienced by some reviewers? A little worried about that one as that can be a deal-breaker for some games.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Andre Eriksson said:
Did you experience the control disconnection issue that has been experienced by some reviewers? A little worried about that one as that can be a deal-breaker for some games.

I have today seen a couple of threads saying a release patch seems to have fixed the issue, so hopefully that is true.

Nope - but people have been pushing the limits of it to see if things break...whereas I've been using it like 99% of people will be: as a gaming machine, enjoying Zelda considerably, without issue. Sitting on a sofa, normal distance from a TV, using the Joy-Con with the Switch docked by the side of the TV, and no problems, thankfully! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Happy Switchmas everybody. Smilie 

Happy to hear the patch solves those issues a few reviews mentioned. I'm beyond excited now, this is the first Nintendo system I've bought on launch day since the Wii- and that quickly began to gather dust. The last system from Nintendo I was this excited about was probably the GCN. 

I' m well and truly in it for the ride, I obviously want to see third parties take Nintendo platforms more seriously, but personally it's mostly about the 1st party content. Having never gambled on a Wii U, I actually do sincerely hope we see a lot of remastered or remixed content from that on Switch. Nice to see the UI is so clean and simple, glad to it... 

I'll finish this thought another time, the doorbell just went and it WAS the postman. Smilie 


Don't take my word on the joycon issue. Sounds like many users are still having problems with the syncing.

Nintendo has added an official update to its website to acknowledge the Joy-Con issue some are having, saying it'll be to do with signal interference. I have the same issue with my DualShock on PS4 in my work room. Even sat near the system, sometimes it does crazy things!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

I tried my friend's Switch yesterday and like Adam, haven't had any issue with the JoyCon as long as I was using them normally, but as soon as something gets in the way, there's occasional drops in transmission of data (contrary to what a lot of people erroneously report it's not desyncing, it's just the data doesn't reach the system properly so it will appear as if the controller isn't responding for a fraction of a second at a time but the controller is still synced to the system). Never experienced that issue with any other system, including Nintendo's and in particular with the Wii U gamepad, which always worked fine including through thin walls and ceilings.

if anything my only real major gripe with the Joycon is the triggers are real tiny, especially the L and R triggers, I'm afraid I would accidentally press ZL and ZR trying to press the former.

( Edited 05.03.2017 08:27 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Having spent a few days with the system now, I'm very impressed. The display is really nice, and although the joycon are tiny, I find them very comfortable connected to the grip and in handheld mode. I think I'll hold off on the pro controller for a while, especially as its so expensive. The Switch definitely has the magic about it, and I'm glad it seems to be doing well.

I do have a couple of gripes though. Firstly, the kickstand is fine but it doesn't really hold enough for you to press the top buttons firmly. Secondly, because the charging port is on the bottom of the unit, you can't charge the system whilst using handheld mode, which is irritating. I use a tablet stand which lets me keep the charger plugged in whilst playing with the joycon in the grip, but its not ideal.

And then, there's one big issue. There really isn't much out here for the launch is there? I've been having a blast with Fast RMX, and of course Breath of the Wild will take up the majority of most people's time early on. But I'm slightly confused why they don't have a virtual console line-up ready- some Gamecube and Wii games, to ease the fact there's not so much content out there right now.

Also.. I can't find any listings for extra docks, and I hope that doesn't cost me and arm and a leg. Smilie

Great hardware, but after we've all gorged on Zelda there needs to be more out there!

( Edited 05.03.2017 16:13 by The Strat Man )

Dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Now, I've not had any problems so far, but this compilation of cock-ups is serious cause for concern.



The big baffling thing is indeed the charging port being at the bottom of the unit, but the amount of screw-ups occurring doesn't bode well. I don't recall this extent of issues from other console launches.

The terrible dock design causing permanent smudging and scratching is incredible. I've taken it out of the dock maybe twice, and placing it in extremely carefully, so as to avoid this. Defo gonna have to get a glass screen protector (the film ones are crap apparently), and perhaps tape a screen wipe over the dock like one of the guys in the vid.

I've been too focused on Zelda to care much, and especially since I've had no issues to speak of, but I think it's something that needs to be talked about. Nintendo looks to have done a pretty poor job not only in the design of the system, but half-assed other areas too. There's plenty of great stuff to be said about it, but just as many bad things too it seems...

( Edited 07.03.2017 00:59 by Azuardo )

I'm sure PS4 had some freezing issue, as did both X360 and X1 at launch. Sadly, you rush a system out to get ahead of the game (or financial year end in this case), and you botch things up. I'm just thankful the worst thing that happened to me so far was a random freeze, and Shovel Knight getting deleted when I rebooted. Really odd that it would delete a game...but a quick re-download and it's been fine since.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Azuardo said:
Dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Now, I've not had any problems so far, but this compilation of cock-ups is serious cause for concern.


The big thing that baffles me in there is the ability to easily mismatch the wrist strap thingues resulting in them being stuck on there forever. How did they mess that up so bad? There should be something on them that prevents them feom sliding on the wrong JoyCon.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I swear mis-matching one of the clip-ons was one of the first things I did when I opened my Switch up. I can't remember whether I really did have it the wrong way round now, but I distinctly remember it being extremely tightly locked on to the point I thought I had messed something up. With some force I did get it off, but it is definitely not clear, and it is indeed a big error that it's possible to put the wrong ones on each and potentially damage them forever.

Makes me super worried.

Looks like there's some actual GPU problems for some of them. >_< That is seriously bad! Luckily I have had no problems so far, but I'm scared to even remove mine from the dock.

It's a real shame, because this hardware is one of the best Nintendo have ever created, but they missed obvious flaws with the screen and dock. The GPU problems are the most scary though, basically a broken system. I wish I ordered off Nintendo Store to get the 2 year warranty.

Two errors cropped up with Just Dance (cartridge version): first is froze in-game with just a large red cross on the screen, like something had failed to load, and later after several dances and switching of modes, it closed saying there was a software error. So I think sometimes there are actual issues with the games as well. Quite concerning. No issues with Zelda's cart, nor downloads so far, only with JD on cart.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Something I think has to be mitigated is the fact that the most vocal people will always be those who have problems with their system. It's quite natural really, I'm always more prone to not say anything myself when everything is fine but when something doesn't work with something I paid for, I'm really pissed and vocal about it. What may seem like problems everywhere is perhaps not affecting the vast majority of people. If that video about repeated 5 feet drops I saw earlier is any indication, the system is actually quite sturdy, and for some of the problems out there, people are truly being careless. Of course this doesn't excuse things like the wrist straps or the dock itself scratching the screen. Although I must say, I tried with my friend's unit (he has a screen protector on) to repeatedly dock and undock the system and no scratches appeared on the screen protector, so it could also be that some docks have bad plastic leaks near the edges of some of its parts that would leave scratches on where other docks would not.

As for Nintendo saying that dead pixels is part of the LCD screen technology, that's Sony stance on it too and in their case, they won't replace a system with dead pixels at all (at least with the PSP it was written in the warranty conditions that systems with dead pixels would not be replaced, but Nintendo will with the Switch, which is already good news).

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Yeah, it most likely is a small amount of systems, but seeing that video does make me worry. Let's hope all are systems end up being fine. As I said, I've literally had zero problems so far.

I can't say much about screen scratching, because I don't dare take it out of the dock. I may pick up one of those screen protectors Az was talking about just to be safe though.

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