Editorial: The Nintendo Switch Travels Well, But It Could Do Some Things Better

This week I flew out to San Francisco for two days to cover an event for Lucasfilm and Nissan. I can't talk about any of that until Monday, but I can tell you about how the Nintendo Switch traveled in a flight and adventure cross country. I'll start by saying overall things were pretty solid, but there are some hiccups that I think Nintendo could address. Here's where the console performed and failed when I took it on the road. 


We're all used to TSA in America by now. Shoes off, Bags on table, remove laptop and put it in a separate box. I was curious to see what would happen if I left my Switch and charger in my backpack, and to my surprise, nothing. I'm not sure if whoever was scanning the machine recognized it as the Nintendo Switch at either airport or simply mistook it for a tablet or e-reader. Either way, the fact that I didn't have to reveal to the console hungry world that I was toting a Switch around gave me some comfort and apparently didn't raise any eyebrows on security. 


Now on the flight, it was time to put the console to the test. The flight out was marvelous. Outlets were readily available should the console drain, although that wasn't too much of an issue. With lighting ample in the flight I could crank the brightness all the way down and play around 4 hours before a charge was needed. So in terms of staying alive the console did really well, and even if it didn't, I had outlets and USB's readily available should I have had to charge the device. In addition to that, The Switch (unlike Laptops) qualified as a small handheld personal device on both flights so you can play it during take off and landing. 

Now here's the downside.

When you're playing the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode wedged between two people you're going to be holding it at some weird angles. The first couple hours weren't too bad, but sooner or later you'll get a pretty powerful hand cramp in either your right or left hand. "No matter," I thought, I'll just set the console on the kickstand and play that way for a bit. Imagine my surprise when I learn that Bluetooth is disabled in airplane mode! That's a damn shame as it really restricts the way you can play exclusively to handheld, which can take a toll on your hands after a while, but you take a ten-minute break you can go for another couple hours before feeling the strain. It's also worth noting that I didn't know airplane mode was a function my first flight and no one came to tell me I needed to set the console in that mode if you're really wanting to play that way.


For the most part, hotel seemed like a relatively different experience than playing at home...until I got an email. I had received a download code for Snake Pass! Just as easy as connecting to the wifi right? Wrong. If I wanted to get into the wifi, I had to agree to terms on their landing page...and the Switch was flat out refusing to so much as search for it. After a couple hard reboots and a system update I was able to download the game...at a Starbucks down the street. I still was never able to access the landing page for my hotel and holy shit the download was slow at Starbucks. That was surprising as Google wifi at Starbucks is typically my go to in a pinch but I waited around 45 minutes and spent all the lunchtime prior to my flight waiting for the game to finish downloading. Quite frankly, it was time I didn't have, nor want to spend and if I wasn't wanting to play the game so bad I wouldn't have done it. I'm sure someone's home wifi would've gotten the job done much faster, but when you're on your own at a hotel...you better have your games ready prior to leaving on the trip if you're downloading.


I kept the Switch in my backpack with my laptop, headphones, external charging brick and a lot of other random stuff. No scratches when I would pull it out at the end of the day, so good work on that Nintendo. 


Having The Switch with me on my flight definitely made five hours fly by there and back. Compared to trying to use a PC on flight for gaming, it was a dream and way less of a pain in the ass. Downloads and the consoles refusal to connect to certain wifi points is a definite issue though...and download times really plant you on a console that should be mobile. In regards to other consoles I would still give the system an A, but in regards to handhelds it's a B-.