The Switch is a portable console that also plugs into the TV. Think of it like a tablet with a TV dock and dedicated controllers. Given that this is Nintendo, that description oversimplifies what the Switch actually is.
So what is the Nintendo Switch? It consists of the following:
Nintendo Switch: The tablet
The tablet portion of the console actually is the Nintendo Switch. It features a 6.2-inch capacitive touch-screen with an HD resolution (1280x720). You get 32GB of onboard storage, which is expandable via microSD card, a battery that Nintendo claims will give you between 2.5 hours to 6.5 hours of continuous gaming and charging via USB-C. Wi-Fi connectivity is also available.
Nintendo mentions that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played for 3 hours straight.
The details of the chipset used, RAM available, etc. haven’t been released yet. We also don’t know whether data can be transferred via the USB-C port or not. You can, however, use portable power banks to charge the Switch.
Nintendo claims that up to eight Switches can connect to each other over Wi-Fi for local multiplayer gaming.
The Switch also features an integrated kickstand at the back so you can prop it up on a table or other surface. This gives the Switch 3-modes of operation: Play on TV, on the console while it’s propped up and as a tablet with attached controllers.
Joy-Con: The controllers
The Joy-Con are the default controllers that come with the Switch bundle. You get two of them and they can be mounted on rails, one on either side of the switch.
Each controller features the traditional A,B,X,Y keys, as well as a joystick that can be also be clicked. You get a shoulder/thumb button on the top (depending on orientation) and L and R bracket buttons along the rail.
The controller also gets a home button and a screen capture button, which can be used to capture and share screenshots and video while gaming.
In terms of sensors, the controllers include an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion detection. The right controller, interestingly, houses a depth-sensing infra-red (IR) camera.
Nintendo says that the camera can sense the distance between the controller and an object and that it can detect shapes. Unfortunately, this feature wasn’t demoed extensively on-stage and given that the camera is at the bottom of the controller, we’re not entirely sure how it’ll be used.
Nintendo also includes what it’s calling an ‘HD Rumble’, which is apparently a very precise form of vibration feedback that can help you ‘feel’ something like ice cubes in a glass as well as the swishing of water in the same glass.
The controllers support NFC and thus, can interact with Amiibos.
Nintendo adds that the L and R buttons on the rail mean that each controller is self-sufficient for most games, so you can share a controller with a friend and play split-screen games.
You can also get wrist straps for the controllers, which add some bulk to the controllers, making them easier to grasp.
The controllers are included as part of the bundle, but can be bought separately for $50 a pair (around Rs 3,400).
Nintendo Switch Dock Set: For TV connectivity
To connect the console to a TV you’ll need a dock. This dock is included as part of the Nintendo Switch bundle. You plop your controller in a slot in the dock, hook up an HDMI cable to your TV, grab the Joy-Cons from the Switch and you’re now set for TV gaming.
The dock will also charge the controller while you play.
I do wonder if a USB-C to HDMI cable will suffice over a $90 dock (around Rs 6,100), however.
Joy-Con Charging Grip: To charge the Joy-Cons
Obviously, the Joy-Cons will also need to be charged from time to time, and plugging them into the Switch to charge them can get frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of a game.
This is where the Charging Grip comes in; it’s a simple mount to which you attach your Joy-Con controllers. Once attached, you can use the entire contraption as you would a regular Xbox One or PS4 controller.
The Grip will be available as part of the bundle, but can be purchased separately at $30 (around Rs 2,000).
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller: For the ‘pro’
The Pro Controller is a single controller that’s designed like your traditional Xbox-style controller. It incorporates most of the Joy-Con’s bells and whistles, including motion controls, HD rumble, Amiibo detection, etc.
This controller is not included in the Switch bundle and must be nought separately for $70 (around Rs 4,800). This makes it slightly more expensive than both the Xbox One controller and Sony’s Dual-Shock 4 controller.
The entire Nintendo Switch bundle will retail for $299.99 in the US and 29,970JPY. That works out to around Rs 18,000 in India, but we don’t know if and when the console will come to India.
The Nintendo Switch will be available for pre-order from 21 January onwards and units will start shipping on 3 March in Japan.
Each Nintendo Switch Bundle will include a Nintendo Switch, a Dock, two Joy-Cons, the Joy-Con Charging Grip, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter for the Dock and wrist straps. The console will be available in two variants, one with grey Joy-Cons and another with a neon blue and a neon orange Joy-Con.
If you're hungry for more, be sure to catch the entire Nintendo Switch launch event on right here: