We’ve considered a lot of important questions since the Nintendo Switch’s launch less than two weeks ago, from how to fix some common issues people are having to how many hours have players logged in Breath of the Wild (no really, I’d love to know!).
An important question remains unexplored, however: How portable is the hybrid home console? And even more important: How can we stretch that portability to the limit? We’ve seen commercials of the Switch being played on the toilet, at the laundromat, and at parties. Well, to explore this, I spent the past week taking the console out to various locations to see what the experience was like (and how to improve it). Allow me to share my findings with you— here’s 5 quick tips to make your Switch as portable as possible.
1) Buy a cheap USB-C cord and a battery pack (more on the battery pack below).
When I want to Walmart to hunt down a USB-C cord (otherwise known as the Google Pixel charger cable), which is the type of USB cord the Nintendo Switch uses to charge, the only one they had was a car charger hybrid for $25. Over $400 spent on video games this month doesn’t likely leave you with $25 to blow on a character, so I went on over to 5 Below (a great chain of stores if you’ve got them around your area) and picked up one for, you guessed it, $5. If you don’t have a local place to get them from for pretty cheap, you can order them for a pretty reasonable price from Amazon or even Walmart.
2) Be prepared to charge on the go!
To be able to charge and play at the same time, pick up a power bank that can deliver 5V at 2A. Otherwise, you’re like me and you’re using one of the many you’ve already stocked up on because of Pokemon Go. I have a charge bank from The Pokemon Company that has a max capacity of 5200mAh, or 18.72WH. You may have one around that outputs at least 1A/5V. How much you get out of your battery pack depends on the game you’re playing. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild demands a lot of power, so I am actually unable to charge the system using my battery pack and play this title at the same time. Additionally, the Switch doesn’t charge very fast when using an external battery, so if you’re playing it while it’s charging, it won’t charge at all without the sufficient battery capacity. So be prepared to let it charge while you’re working so you can enjoy it on your lunch break. It won’t charge very fast, but it will work in a pinch.
3) Don’t plan on playing outside…
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter how much I stuck myself in the shade. The Switch’s screen is nearly impossible to see outside. I don’t have a fix for this yet, or even any ideas, but if you have any, feel free to let me know down in the comments and I’ll add them here. It sure would be nice to be able to play outside on a nice sunny day in the park, to add an extra dimension of the bird calls in Breath of the Wild. Okay, maybe I’m going a little too far, but even if a person wanted to play while waiting for the city bus or something, it isn’t doable. The Switch is on in the picture below, but it is next to impossible to see.
Even sitting by a sunny window in a restaurant makes it harder to see, though it is doable as evidenced in this picture below.
4) Grab some headphones to enhance the audio experience.
It wasn’t until I put the soundtrack for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in my truck’s CD player and listened to the bass of the enemy music through surround sound speakers did I realize how downright chilling the theme is for The Guardian music. From then on, I plug my headphones into my Switch when playing on the go so that I can at least get some of the same effect while playing. Everyday headphones aren’t exactly the bass messiahs of the music world, but every little bit helps when trying to get into the atmosphere of a game.
5) But don’t rely on having sound at a busy restaurant at all.
I tried to share Snipperclips with my friend at a restaurant, and thankfully we didn’t have to rely on the music to play, because it would have been too loud to rely on any sound cues. If you picked up 1-2 Switch, however, then you likely know already that some of the mini-games rely solely on sound and wouldn’t really work well in a busy restaurant, let alone a loud party… I know 1-2 Switch is a living room game, but it’s the best example we have right now for potential titles that may also rely on sound, and so it’s important to consider. SnipperClips was great to play while waiting for our food, and we were able to work together to solve the puzzles even though we could barely hear one another. I’ll say more on that some other time, but if you’re going to take the Switch out to dinner with a friend, be mindful of what game you’re trying to introduce and the feasibility of enjoyable game play for you and your party in the environment at hand.
Hopefully these tips help, and if you have any more tips on making the Nintendo Switch as portable as possible, share them down below in the comments or Tweet them to me @AlexandraAvast.