This morning, I bought a turquoise Nintendo Switch Lite.
The day I prophesied finally came about. Later than I originally imagined, but earlier than the inevitable holiday rush to empty the shelves of stock as we approach peak shopping season.
Nintendo’s new $199 budget Switch cut a lot of things off the features list in the quest for a lower price point…but it gained something tremendously wonderful I should have seen coming.
I love the device, and not just for the reasons I was expecting to.
Some have cynically derided the Switch lite for not having the ability to “Switch” between TV mode and portable mode. While I initially speculated this might be added in the future, it turns out that the Switch Lite doesn’t contain necessary video scaling components vital to the TV mode.
So much for my hopes of a tiny colorful dock coming in the future.
Others are irritated at its relatively-minimal battery life increase. The Switch Lite features marginal battery improvements over the old launch model…but a few weeks before the Lite released, Nintendo revised the larger version of the console with the same power-efficient innards from the Lite.
That larger console has a larger battery, and thus a much bigger percentage increase in play time over the old console.
So there’s one of the Lite’s advantages potentially thrown upon the rocks before it even hit the shelves, as long as you don’t mind a larger price and larger unit.
Both new Switches offer slightly better memory bandwidth than the original model, and some games offer slightly better performance as a result. I’m sure that the oldest Switch will still be factored in for QA testing purposes, but that’s a little weird also. That’s not so much a caveat for future owners of the machine, but might be a slightly frustrating reason for the millions who have the original unit to upgrade.
Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry did a deep-dive on this, and it’s worth watching if you’re the sort that chases the best performance possible.
It’s not a huge difference. It’s barely on the level of the jump from the Xbox One to the Xbox One S, and seems like it’ll only be noticed by the folks making benchmarking videos on YouTube. But it’s still an improvement.
I’m one of the few who thinks that the loss of HD rumble is the biggest blow to the Switch Lite.
The smaller form factor and the lack of the dedicated batteries featured in the previous Joy-Con controllers means that rumble had to go. I’m still a bit sour about it. I think HD rumble is one of the best features Nintendo introduced to their console, and it’s no surprise that Sony is trying their own take on it inside the PS5 controller.
All of these questions and concerns flew out of my brain after spending a day with this delightful device playing The Witcher 3.
You see, the Switch Lite’s best quality is right there in the name.
It’s so freaking light and comfy to hold.
The original Switch with Joy-Con controllers attached weighs 398g. This new unit weighs just 275g. And that’s without having to cut anything off of it.
For those of you living with the antiquated measurement systems in the US like me, that’s nearly a quarter of a pound of weight shed.
That might not seem like a huge deal, but it’s immediately apparent, and incredibly important on a device you’re supposed to hold for hours at a time.
The old Switch felt a fair bit like using a Kindle with two controllers grafted onto the sides of it. It was functional, but not the most ergonomic thing in the world. I’d always start out holding it normally, then eventually slouch over and rest of my elbows on something, or resort to the dreaded kickstand.
It’s about the heaviest I think a portable game console could be while still being acceptable.
The Switch Lite weighs slightly less than an Xbox One controller, while also containing a screen, CPU, GPU, RAM, and battery. That’s insane. And that low level of weight means playing the Switch Lite for extended periods is just as comfy as playing a “normal” home game console.
Nintendo hasn’t done a great job showing off this weight reduction to consumers. It’s one thing to see the device in pictures and another to hold it.
You can hold one at Best Buy locations…but they’ve got it clamped into a standard metal security brace that adds a ton of weight and awkwardness to the console.
Maybe they could go for a simulated plastic shell with the same weight? That would work. As long as they do a better job than Astro.
I wanted a Switch Lite from the moment it was announced because it had a D-pad, came in fun colors, and had improved battery life. I wanted it because I am a sucker for all things Nintendo. I wanted it because I tend to finish Switch games more often the more I use portable mode.
I should have wanted it for the comfort improvements. They could have called this the Switch Comfy, and I wouldn’t have said a single negative thing.