- Earlier this year, Nintendo released a new version of its wildly popular Nintendo Switch console.
- The new console costs just $US200, but it loses an important function that defines the Switch: the ability to act as both a home console and a portable. Instead, the Switch Lite is a dedicated handheld, like Nintendo’s Game Boy, DS, and 3DS before it.
- That said, the Switch Lite is a killer handheld console at a great price. It’s a particularly good choice for kids, or people who already own a Switch but want a dedicated handheld version to take on the go.
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Nintendo’s latest version of the Switch is the least expensive, most accessible way to jump into Nintendo’s best console in years.
It’s a smartly built little device that feels almost underpriced at just $US200.
That lower price comes with a compromise, of course: The Switch Lite can’t switch between being a handheld game console and a home game console, like its forebear. But having spent months with the Switch Lite, I’m convinced it’s still a great gift idea this holiday season.
The Switch Lite is a better handheld console than the original Nintendo Switch.
The central conceit of the original Nintendo Switch was simple to understand: at home, you could play it in a dock and play games on your TV; if you were out, you could simply pick it up out of the dock and take it with you as a handheld.
No wires or other stuff to get in the way; games seamlessly transitioned from TV to handheld. It’s pretty impressive stuff!
But anyone who’s used a Nintendo Switch as a portable console is well aware of its potential issues: Using the detachable controllers (“Joy-Con”) to hold the console feels fraught, as if you’ll inevitably break the device. And as you use it more, the Joy-Cons feel less secure.
And in a more straightforward sense, the original Switch is just a large device.
With the Switch Lite, all of those issues disappear. It’s a smaller handheld, and the Joy-Cons are attached. It feels lighter because it is lighter. It feels easier to take on the go because it’s explicitly built for portable use.
Simply put: The Switch Lite is better at being a handheld console than the original Switch, and with good reason.
The Switch Lite is perfect for kids, but sleek enough to appeal to adults.
At $US200, with no moving parts, the Switch Lite is squarely aimed at the millions of kids who still don’t have a Nintendo Switch.
Not only does it cost less, but it’s far less breakable than the previous model. Because the controllers are built into the device, dropping it doesn’t mean potentially wrecking the connectors where the Joy-Cons meet the Switch on the original model. Moreover, since the Joy-Cons don’t detach, there’s no risk of losing one or breaking one.
Granted, with the screen taking up most of the real estate, the Switch Lite is still something you have to handle with care – just slightly less care than is required with a traditional Switch.
The Switch Lite is also a great choice for people who already own a Switch.
It might seem counterintuitive, but the Switch Lite is a tremendously complementary device for original Switch owners.
Because Nintendo allows owners to log into multiple Switch consoles with a single login, all your games and saves can come with you from Switch to Switch. There’s one pretty hefty catch: You can only designate one console as your “primary” system, which means it doesn’t have to check in online every single time you play a game.
That’s pretty meaningful if you’re buying the Switch Lite as a second Switch console. Presumably you won’t always have WiFi nearby to check in with Nintendo when you’re playing games on the Switch Lite. But there’s a pretty easy workaround: By designating your Switch Lite as the primary, you won’t have to check in online with it and the one you keep at home will almost certainly have access to the internet all the time.
In so many words, it’s quite easy to pick up a new Switch Lite that acts as your permanent handheld Nintendo console while also using an original Switch as your home console.
One caveat: The Switch Lite is still relatively large by handheld electronics standards, and playing for a while still cramps my hands like the regular Switch does.
I’ve used the Switch Lite with a bunch of different games, but I’ve spent most of that time with a game named “Dead Cells.” It’s a tremendously challenging, brilliantly-made game that’s perfect for handheld gaming. I can’t suggest it enough!
Unfortunately, the Switch Lite forces me to stop playing it every so often because my hands start cramping and I need to take a break. The Switch Lite isn’t heavy, of course, but it is just heavy enough that holding it upright and pushing buttons at the same time can result in painful hand cramps.
This isn’t a Switch Lite problem, to be clear – it’s a handheld gaming problem that applies to the entire Switch lineup, as well as Nintendo’s long line of handheld gaming consoles before it.
Caveats aside, it’s hard to imagine anyone not loving the Switch Lite as a gift this holiday.
That my biggest complaint with the Switch Lite is something that isn’t inherently a flaw should say something: this is a pretty great little device.
It’s an easy addition to your life that enhances your already existing Switch or grants you access to the massive library of excellent Switch games. That it comes in three delightful colours and costs just $US200, yet powers the same great games that the $US300 Switch does, is a huge bonus.
It’s hard to imagine anybody who wouldn’t want the Switch Lite – and that’s exactly why it’s such a strong option for gifting this holiday season.