Nintendo recently unveiled their newest hardware lineup, the Nintendo Switch Lite. The smaller, cheaper version of their incredibly popular Nintendo Switch system is due out September 20th, coinciding with the release of the updated Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The Switch Lite is shaping up to be one of the best dedicated handheld gaming devices on the market: let’s see how it stacks up.
Nintendo Switch Lite
The Switch Light is notably smaller and lighter than the original Switch. It sports a 5.5-inch touchscreen, as opposed to the original Switch’s 6.2-inch display. Rather than having detachable Joy Con controllers, the Lite is just a solid unit, not dissimilar from a giant Game Boy Advance. Notably, the Lite won’t be able to connect to TVs to send out a higher-resolution image: it’s locked in at 720p on its small screen.
Humorously, this means the Switch Lite is a Switch that can’t switch between handheld and TV modes. Its most notable feature, however, is the price tag. Since the system is smaller, doesn’t include a dock and doesn’t ship with Joy Con controllers, it’s only $200, making it $100 cheaper than the mainline Switch.
Handheld gaming in the year 2019 is very different than it was even a decade ago. Where once the Nintendo DS went up against the PlayStation Portable, Nintendo is really the only dedicated game maker in the handheld space these days. While some have noted similarities between the Switch Lite and the ill-fated PlayStation Vita, the PSP’s successor, the Vita hasn’t been on sale in North America for years.
The only real competition in the handheld gaming space comes from tablets and small netbooks. Of these, the only one position itself as a gaming device is likely the 2019 iPad, which coincidentally also comes in at $200. Between the two, however, the iPad isn’t exactly a dedicated piece of gaming hardware.
One of the strengths of the Switch over a touchscreen-only gaming option is the control schemes. The Switch sports physical face buttons and two analog sticks, making it a comfortable and responsive device for dedicated gaming. Touch screens, like the one on the iPad, aren’t exactly responsive or well-geared for intense gaming.
While you could get a Bluetooth controller to connect to your iPad, that’s yet another purchase you’ll need to make. Beyond that, the point of a handheld gaming device is to be portable. Lugging a controller and a tablet around isn’t exactly convenient. Meanwhile, the Switch essentially has its controller built-in, and it slides neatly into a bag or pocket.
Another notable mark in the Switch’ favor is the large library of first- and third-party games you can play on the device. Nintendo staples like Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon are all well-represented on the system. Third-party favorites like Skyrim, Doom and Wolfenstein are all playable in handheld mode on the Switch, too.
Meanwhile, tablets like the iPad offer mainly upscaled renditions of mobile games. While these may be fun for short bursts of play, they’re hardly enough to scratch the itch of a serious gaming session. If you’re looking for a good gaming device for a kid for the holiday season, the Switch is an easy choice: kids love Pokemon and Mario!
The Switch Lite is hitting store shelves just in time for the holiday season. Shortly after it goes on sale, the newest version of Pokemon will be hitting stores, which is sure to be high on every kid’s wish list this Christmas.
At its $200 price point, it’s hard to deny how perfect the Switch Lite is as a portable gaming device. Whether you’re buying one for a kiddo for the holidays, or just one for yourself so you can play Mario Kart, it’s a hard deal to pass up.