The new hybrid video-game console from Nintendo has been out for several months now, and it’s off to a strong start: The Switch is already Nintendo’s fastest-selling game console.
Like so many things, its success comes as a surprise to experts in the field — the $299 console isn’t very competitive on paper, and it wasn’t a guaranteed success in concept.
- It’s underpowered compared with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, both of which cost less.
- It has a paltry game library compared to the competition.
- Because of its lack of horsepower, major games released on multiple platforms (think: “Assassin’s Creed,” “Call of Duty,” “Grand Theft Auto,” etc.) won’t ever come to the Switch.
But actually using the Switch is a surprising delight. I’ve had the Switch for four months, and it’s quickly become a part of my daily life for several reasons.
1. The Nintendo Switch is remarkably fast, which is more important than you’d think.
Using the Switch feels blessedly modern.
Unlike the often sludgy experience on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, powering up and using the Switch is quick and easy. At any moment in-game, you can push the console’s Home button and immediately exit to the dashboard. This concept also exists on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but it’s far quicker and more seamless on the Switch.
Frankly speaking, it doesn’t feel like a technological downgrade from using the smartphone in my pocket. Even the user interface is clean and efficient — no digging through sub-menus to figure out how to turn off WiFi or figure out how much storage I’m using. It’s this kind of “quality of life” stuff that makes using the Switch intuitive and accessible to pretty much any user.
2. Sleep Mode turns the Switch into a game console that’s quickly accessible.
A major reason people are inclined to play games on their phones is ease of use. A phone is already in your pocket and takes just a second to wake up, which lets you get in and out of apps and games quickly. The Switch takes this concept to heart with Sleep Mode, which enables the console to operate like, say, a laptop or a tablet.
Rather than turning the console all the way off, you can simply enter Sleep Mode: a low-power mode that enables the console to be quickly accessed once again, comparable to reopening a laptop screen. No restarting the game — you’re back exactly where you left off.
Though comparable functions exist on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Switch pulls it off much more cleanly — a nod to the portability of the console.
3. Jumping into games in general is surprisingly fast.
I’ve been taking a ton of screenshots on the Switch, and getting them off the Switch requires removing the microSD card I have inserted. And every time I remove the microSD card, I have to power the Switch all the way down. Bummer!
Thankfully, restarting the Switch — even a “cold boot,” as it’s known — is remarkably quick. I just tested: It takes roughly 10 seconds from all the way off to the main menu. I’d bet any amount of money that it’s faster than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
This is partially due to the design of the hardware itself, and partially due to the medium used for games: cartridges. In both instances, Nintendo smartly prioritized for consumer experience — and it makes a major difference in daily use.