Lower cost aside, is the Nintendo Switch Lite right for you?


Right on cue, here comes the flood of "is it worth it" videos about the newly announced Nintendo Switch Lite. Yesterday I did a write up going over the in-depth specs of the Switch Lite, but then I thought, by the time I post it, there will be 10,000 videos going over the specs, quickly followed by the "is it worth it" videos. However, I want to be a bit more specific. "Worth" is relative for many reasons. For instance, the Switch Lite is worthless to my 96-year-old grandmother no matter the financial cost. Worth is also different for a millionaire who will buy the Switch Lite on a whim after buying a $4,000 bottle of wine. That person could be wearing socks worth more than the Switch Lite.

The purpose of this video isn't about its relative "worth", this video is about whether or not the Switch Lite is "RIGHT" for you, period.

So, let's get to it.

Real quick, I did cover the in-depth specs and added my opinions and speculation in a recent podcast that I'll link in the description. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast by the way. There's two episodes per week where I geek out and sometimes have guests on like Austin Evans, James Rolfe (The Angry Video Game Nerd), David Murray (the 8-Bit Guy), Colin from "This Does Not Compute", Sam Battle from "Look Mum No Computer", the artist "Lights", George Noory and many others. It's really fun and you may learn something along the way...or even teach me a thing or two! We're all geeks about something and I love hearing about it! Anyways, the show is just called "Geek Therapy Radio". Type it into your favorite podcast app and it'll probably show up.

One of the things I mentioned in the Switch Lite episode was that technically this isn't a Switch at all since it no longer...you know...SWITCHES. It's strictly designed for portable-only operation, and that's where we'll start with whether or not it's right for you.

It's portable only. It will not connect to your TV like the vanilla Switch. It's better to think about the Switch Lite as a Gameboy or 3DS. (More on the fate of the 3DS at the end of the video) If you want to play Switch Games on your TV, whether at home or traveling in a hotel room, the Switch Lite is not right for you.

The Switch Lite does not have detachable Joy Cons or a kick stand. One of the main features of the vanilla Switch is that you can set it upright with the flimsy kick stand, give one of the Joy Cons to a friend, and play a quick round of Smash Brothers or Mario Kart or something. If that's important to you, the Switch Lite is still not right for you.

That said however, you can pair extra Joy Cons to the Switch Lite as usual just like vanilla Switch. In fact, you can pair tons of Bluetooth controllers to the Switch. However, again, there's no kick stand to prop up the Switch Lite. Plus, the screen is smaller, and again, it can't hook up to a TV.

If your friend has an extra pair of Joy Cons on them, they are likely attached to their vanilla Switch so you'd both probably use that over the Switch Lite anyway in that situation.

The picture I'm painting here stresses the individual nature and inherent design of the Switch Lite. It's really not designed for local multiplayer unless you're playing-ad hoc or online in which case both of you would need a separate Switch or Switch Lite entirely.

If you are ok with the Switch Lite being for personal use exclusively, like the 3DS and every Nintendo handheld since the Game n Watch, then I think you'll be very happy with the Switch. I know I will. I want one and I will definitely buy one soon after its release in the fall.

So that brings me to a critical question I know many of you are asking yourself, because I am too.

"I already have a Nintendo Switch, is adding another right for me or even justifiable?"

I can only give you my opinion as someone who personally falls in this category. So here's my perspective, take it and do with it as you will.

I do want a more ruggedized Switch to live in my backpack and keep with me almost 100% of the time. The vanilla Switch is definitely portable don't get me wrong, but to me it feels kind of brittle. It definitely needs a carrying case if you're going to carry it in a back pack or bag very often. Which reminds me of the Joy Con drift issue. For those unaffected or unaware, Joy Con drift is when one or both of your thumbsticks malfunctions or stops working entirely. Imagine if your computer mouse pointer constantly pulls to one side of the screen or doesn’t move at all. That’s essentially what’s happening to some Joy Con thumbsticks. They constantly pull to one direction or stop working entirely. This is due to a rather flimsy thumbstick mechanism. While the fix is rather cheap and easy if you aren’t afraid of a screwdriver, it shouldn’t happen at all. Most people won’t fix it themselves. They’re screwed into pairing for repairs or buying more Joy Cons for $80.

I had to fix my Joy Con drift issue. It happened from carrying my Switch in my back pack. The left thumbstick snagged on a pocket and sheered out of its socket. I popped it back in, but the assembly itself was damaged and wouldn’t take left input. Kinda hard to play Rocket League when you can’t turn left.

So, yes I DO want a Switch Lite in addition to my original vanilla Switch, but only if the thumbsticks are more durable, which one can only hope they will be as Nintendo has made them a permanent part of the hardware. With vanilla Switch I’ve learned to detach the Joy Cons and keep them in a separate pocket. So while yes, the vanilla Switch is portable, there’s still quite a bit of consideration to be mindful about when transporting. Either by taking it apart like I do or investing in a fairly bulky carrying case. Adding bulk, at least to me, reduces portability. Now I’m just taking MORE stuff with me.

So the idea of tossing my rugged Switch Lite in my backpack without a care in the world is very appealing to me. I have personally left my vanilla Switch at home many times because of fear of damage in transport.

Another thing to consider is if the Switch Lite is right for your children, and I’d wager it is. I actually think children will be a huge market for the Switch Lite. I have never once seen a niece, nephew, or friend’s child playing the Switch on a TV. They are always carrying it with them from room to room. Plopping it on tables or on the ground. A more rugged Switch Lite will fit this bill perfectly AND at $200 it’s $100 cheaper than the original Switch. The fact that the Switch Lite can’t dock to a TV is a non-issue in that case. So if you have a kid, give them the Lite and keep the original for yourself.

Without delving into too much detail like I did in my podcast or that you heard everywhere else so far, there are lesser issues that at least a few user might want to consider if it’s important to you. Those are the omission of HD Rumble and IR cameras in the controls. The Switch Lite doesn’t have HD Rumble to vibrate your controls and no IR cameras to interact with a limited number of games. Are those important to you? I doubt rumble and IR cameras are a deal breaker to most people. You can’t detach the controls anyway to use the IR camera in a game. Like I previously mentioned however, both of these functions are fully available with any paired Joy Cons if you want to prop the Switch Lite up with a book or something.

NFC is still included to work with your Amiibos if you value that feature. I have one Amiibo that I’ve never used or even removed from its package. It’s RYU and I just like Street Fighter stuff.

I’ll start wrapping this up with another important thing to consider, especially if you already own an original Switch. Nintendo has eased account restrictions a little bit, but it’s still a pain in the butt if you’re going to own two Switches. You can download software you’ve already purchased onto your secondary Switch or Switch Lite, however, to play the game on your secondary device, you must have an active internet connection. I don’t hear a ton of reviewers mentioning this. I have heard some, but definitely not enough.

This means that if you already have Mario Kart on your original Switch, you CAN’T play it on your Switch Lite if you’re somewhere without an internet connection. If you lose your connection, the game will pause and pick up where it left off when the connection returns. All of this comes down to which Switch you designate as the “Primary Console.” So if you’re going camping in the boonies and only want to take your Switch Lite, you’ll need to remember to go into your account settings and designate it as your “Primary Console” before you leave. Physical cartridges aren’t subject to any of this.

Yes it’s a pain in the butt, but it is WAY better than Nintendo accounts between 3DS’s.

So, I’ll leave whether the Switch Lite is right for you with this final point before moving on to the brief “fate of the 3DS” bonus content.

The biggest factor in whether or not the Switch Lite is right for you boils down to your interest in the Switch period. But I will say this, everyone one the fence who has bought the Switch after my recommendation falls in love with it. So if you’re interested in the Switch, the Switch Lite being $100 cheaper is a much better way to dip your toes in the water. I’d go so far as to say that most first time Switch buyers who only buy the Lite probably won’t need the original Switch at all and could do without the TV dock. Nintendo can track the percentage of time Switches are docked. It turns out, most people are playing it exclusively undocked. Myself included. I like playing on the big screen now and then, but mostly it only gets played in bed or on the toilet YEAH I SAID IT, so in my opinion, the Switch Lite will be just right for most people.

Ok real quick before signing off, the 3DS. You may have seen a lot of clickbait and speculation that the “3DS is dead” and the Switch Lite is officially replacing it. It’s not dead. Nintendo says they have no plans to abandon the 3DS platform anytime soon as long as there is demand. Nintendo has no plans to release new 1st party games like Mario or Pokemon on the platform, but it is still wide open to 3rd party developers and the eShop isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, nor is online play.

Demand for the 3DS platform has naturally fallen off since release of the Switch, but the platform still generates hundreds of millions of dollars for Nintendo. According to the latest information, Nintendo sold over 2.5 million units of 3DS platform hardware in March 2019, mostly 2DS’s, and over 13.2 million units of software.

Even assuming conservatively that those were only $80 2DS’s and each software title was only $5, that’s $200 million in hardware and $66 million in software. That’s $266,000,000 at the most conservative estimate. In other words, the 3DS platform is nowhere near its prime, but it’s still generating money for Nintendo. Nintendo is not going to turn off the faucet on life giving water even if the flow has reduced. They’ll get every last drip out of the 3DS platform. It’s hard to know when the last drop will fall, but it isn’t 2019. So take the clickbait with a grain of salt. The 3DS platform isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It will age gracefully and eventually die a hero.

Alright thanks for sticking around, it was a joy to have you and it would be my honor if you’d consider subscribing to this channel and my podcast. If you liked it, tell your friends. Most of all, be good to yourselves and others, embrace your inner geek, and I’ll see you next time.

Geek Therapy Radio

Geek Therapy Radio

Geek Therapy airs 10pm Sundays on KPRC 950AM in Houston, TX and globally on the iHeartRadio app. Grab the podcast on iHeartRadio, Google Play, Apple Podcasts and more! Read more


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