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New console hits the market

The Nintendo Switch is a groundbreaking console, but consumers should wait before buying it.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Michael Jairam, Opinions Editor

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The Nintendo Switch is unlike any other console ever made. On one hand it’s a traditional home console, on the other it’s a portable and in some ways it even mirrors the motion control heritage of the Wii.

The Switch is undoubtedly ambitious, but does it live up to Nintendo’s aspirations? The answer: it’s a mixed bag.

The console illustrates both highs and lows right out of the box. The Switch itself is made up of a tablet with two controllers that attach to either side of the machine. These parts feel solid and well built, living up to Nintendo’s reputation for making sturdy devices. However, the “dock” that the Switch comes with which lets you output to your TV feels laughably cheap, being made almost entirely of a thin plastic.

The dock is so poor that some are reporting that using it can damage the screen of the console. The controller itself has a strange, somewhat uncomfortable design, though it can be used in a number of different methods which helps offset this weakness. Overall the build quality is decent, but the dock itself is a serious issue.

When you turn the Switch on, you’ll be greeted by a clean, minimalistic interface. The software runs nicely and information is conveyed clearly, which is a step up from the sometimes poor UI that could be found in other Nintendo devices. The major flaw of the software is that it offers no app store similar to the ones found on Android or Apple tablets. For the Switch to lack features such as Netflix and Spotify when competing directly with those other devices is a major blow to it.

The major question that I had prior to using the Switch was how well it could perform as a  console/portable hybrid. As a console it ran in a fairly normal manner, providing couch gameplay at a 30 frame cap. It was in portable mode that the unique nature of the device managed to shine through, however. The Switch was light enough to be portable, but strong enough to play full games such as The Legend of Zelda. I got roughly three hours of battery life before the device died, and it was only after playing the most intensive products available on the Switch. Overall, it was an impressive experience.

However, the console has a major flaw: pricing. At $300 the Switch is the same price as competitors like the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One in spite of offering weaker hardware and a far smaller library of games.

To make matters worse, the accessories for the console are priced much higher than is typical for the market, making it difficult for consumers to buy new parts if they need them.

Overall, my time with the Switch made me faithful in the unique concept of a hybrid console, if not a believer in buying the console itself right now. Nintendo has a number of issues to iron out still, namely the dock, the lack of applications, and the poor pricing. The verdict? Wait for improvements, and when the time seems right, make the switch.

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