The Nintendo Switch's included dock cradle features three USB ports, and on a whim we decided to plug a bunch of stuff into it to see what works and what doesn't. Interestingly enough USB keyboards will work.
You might be asking yourselves what good a USB keyboard is when the Nintendo Switch doesn't have an actual web browser. That's absolutely true, but we did find one good use for a USB keyboard:
making memes writing clever words over screenshots to share on Facebook, Twitter, and our SD cards.
Just like Sony's PlayStation 4, the Switch lets you take screenshots of any game at any time. The left JoyCon controller has a dedicated screenshot button (video coming soon!) that quickly immortalizes any game scene with a snap. If you're anything like me then you've taken tons of screenshots of Zelda: Breath of the Wild already, and maybe even shared a few or two of the best ones with text overlays.
Although Nintendo's new handheld-and-console Switch hybrid can be expanded with extra storage via SD cards, users won't actually be able to copy their saves over.
Nintendo has confirmed that game saves are locked to the Switch's internal 25.9GB flash storage, meaning gamers have no way of exporting or copying their saved games progress to SD cards. So what happens if you play 300 hours of Zelda: Breath of the wild and your Switch console bricks?
You lose everything. Ditto if your flash memory ever has any issues. Digital libraries will also compete with game saves on the Switch, so if you plan to go digital, get an SD card and store your games onto it. So all your progress could be at risk and there's nothing you can do about it.
There's reports floating around the Nintendo Switch JoyCons are still having de-sync issues, and we decided to test out the functional range of these nifty wireless gadgets to just how far they could go without disconnecting. And they can go pretty far.
During my time with the Nintendo Switch I've experienced zero de-synchronization issues with the JoyCon controllers (except when I purposefully went out of range for testing purposes). The left JoyCon works flawlessly alongside the right one at ranges in excess of 30 feet--or about 10 meters.
I tested the JoyCons' range in two different ways: both detached in either hand and combined in the JoyCon Grip. The results were the same either way. I also tested the range with the Switch docked in TV Mode, and in Tabletop mode with tablet set up on its kickstand. Rather than shooting the JoyCons' Bluetooth signal through walls, I stayed in a regular linear path and kept a line of sight with the system,and the system faced me except when it was docked. I managed to get about 37 feet away (11.2 meters) from the system while docked and in Tabletop Mode, before I quite literally ran out of linear space.
One of the biggest worries about Nintendo's new Switch handheld-and-console hybrid is on-the-go battery life. Unlike most handhelds on the market (phones excluded!) system pelts out gaming at 720p HD resolution, but the battery life is actually pretty impressive given Nintendo's original projections. Here's our analysis.
To conduct this battery test I played the Switch's most demanding game, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, in handheld mode. Using a stopwatch app on my phone, I proceeded to play while writing down battery capacity as the stopwatch counted upwards. The console's brand new 4310 mAh battery was fully charged, and hadn't really depleted much charge since I got it as I kept it docked for the most part. The JoyCons were attached for this test, and both the left and right controllers were fully charged too. The brightness was set at about 65% or so.
The battery itself discharged at a fairly consistent rate, and throughout the session, the Switch didn't get very warm. In fact it was surprisingly cool even during intense battle sequences and areas with dynamic lighting and atmospheric effects. It's worth noting that this session consisted of both freeform exploration and main quest adventures with cutscenes. All in all a fully charged Switch battery gave me approximately 3 hours, 18 minutes and 38 seconds of consistent, active play in Zelda: Breath of the While in Handheld Mode.
The Nintendo Switch Pro controller is exceptionally well-made, but it's also quite...small. We size up the Switch Pro against its DualShock and Xbox competitors--even the now-dead (but not forgotten) Wii U Pro controller.
When I saw the box for the $70 Switch Pro controller, I surely thought it was the wrong device. But alas, the box mirrored the controller's actual size. But unlike other controllers, none of its space is wasted. It's a compact, stylish and immensely comfortable piece of hardware that will bring 40 hours of pleasant gaming.
The controller feels solid in your hands, if not a bit heavy (certainly heavier than the Wii U Pro). But the way it's shaped also makes it feel light, and your fingers easily curl around the sides. It genuinely fits like a glove. The face buttons are well-placed, with the ABXY buttons enhanced to reduce the time needed to press them. The buttons themselves are easy to press--there's no pushing needed like with Xbox One controllers--and the triggers are absolutely fantastic. The triggers hang, but not too much, nothing like Sony's DualShock 4. Like the rest of the buttons they press in very easy.
After long bouts of silence, Square Enix has finally announced NieR: Automata's PC release date: March 17, 2017.
NieR: Automata will be exclusive to Steam and apparently won't launch on Microsoft's Windows Store platform, which isn't a surprise since the game won't come to Xbox One either. The incoming PC release will be a simultaneous global launch similar to Final Fantasy XV's cross-regional release.
If you're interested in pre-ordering Square Enix is pulling one of their signature goofy pre-order bonuses for the Steam launch: pre-orders will unlock an awesome Valve gear accessory for 2B that resemble's the face of Valve.
The Switch's $70 Pro controller has a nifty USB Type-C port at the top that will make it much more future proof than other controllers. However, the device won't actually use the Type-C protocol to refill the Pro controller's internal 1300mAh battery--that's why it takes 6 hours to charge up.
The Nintendo Switch Pro controller 's Type-C integration is apparently only for convenience, not faster recharges or data transfers--at least when you use the included cord. The Pro controller comes with a fairly common USB Type-C to Type-A recharging cord. What's interesting is that the Type-A end, which channels energy from the Switch dock to the controller, is actually USB 2.0. This means the Pro controller won't see faster recharges and the standard 5V 1.8A recharge rate should apply.
Now how do we know all this, especially since there's no markings on the Switch Pro USB cord other than the HAC-010 model number? I admit I wasn't able to find exact specs of this USB cord. However I did find a clue. Nintendo has confirmed the Switch dock's single USB 3.0 port will only be USB 2.0 until a firmware patch is rolled out: "USB terminal (side × 2 [USB 2.0 compatible], back side × 1 [※]) ※ It will operate with USB 2.0. We plan to support USB 3.0 in future updates," the Switch dock spec page confirms.
Nintendo doesn't skimp out on the Pro Controller's charging cord, but it's a bit shorter than we'd like.
If you use your Nintendo Switch in a sizable living room, you'll be pleased to know the included charging cord isn't pathetically short. Since the Switch Pro controller can be played wirelessly via Bluetooth connectivity, it's a nice option for families and gamers who want to play on their couch without being tethered. But when those inevitable Type-C charging sessions occur it's good to know that Nintendo included a decently sized USB recharging cord.
We got our hands-on a Switch Pro controller and did some measurements, concluding that the HAC-010 charging cord measures at 60-inches, or about 5 feet. The original NES controllers are still longer in sheer length (they measure 91.5 inches or about 7.6 feet) but we at least get double the insanely tiny NES Classic's 30-inch cords.
At $299 Nintendo's new Switch console is less than a PS4 or Xbox One, but the system has a galaxy of peripherals, accessories, and controllers that can rack the cost real high real fast.
Buying a Nintendo Switch Pro controller and Zelda: Breath of the Wild cost me $137 at my local Walmart: the Pro controller is $69.99 and Breath of the Wild cost your standard $59.99. That's nearly half of the Switch's total $299 retail price--so in essence I purchased a single game and a single controller for almost 50% of the console's price tag.
So why is the Nintendo Switch Pro controller so much, and why would you buy it when the Switch comes with two JoyCon controllers? The Pro controller sports the JoyCon's motion tracking, gyroscopes, accelerometer and HD Rumble tech in a much more user-friendly package. The controller is comfortable and well-made, and if you plan on getting the Switch to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild then you might want to invest in the device. But the biggest reason to pick it up is simple: gamers are having connection issues with the JoyCons.
NVIDIA Editor's Day 2017 - I'm a massive fan of NVIDIA's awesome ShadowPlay feature, and it seems like millions of gamers are like me as well.
During their recent Editor's Day at GDC 2017, NVIDIA revealed ShadowPlay has over 200 million videos uploaded per year - with the company noticing a 2x year-over-year growth in the number of videos recorded and shared through ShadowPlay. That wasn't the end of ShadowPlay's bragging rights, as the company also announced ShadowPlay Highlights - something we've gone into more detail on here.