By: Luis Benavides Jr.
Nintendo’s new console has made several innovations in the world of video games. But not without its own share of problems. Let’s cover some of the issues that have been found with the new Nintendo Switch. First, I would like to acknowledge that this console is groundbreaking in its own right. However, with all the flaws in design coming to light just over the first 30 days, things don’t well at all for Nintendo. With the base of the gaming industry being pc or console, the developers naturally stick to a package and just upgrade the models and hardware. This is great because it works, however, it doesn’t really leave a lot of room for innovation. One thing to keep in mind; with innovation comes hiccups. So with that said, always remember the road to making a great product is full of bumps and holes. So let’s look at what problems come with the Switch.
First issue that was reported was the switch was having trouble reading the game cards. Now what I mean is that when you put your game card in the switch it was unable to launch the game. At times, the Switch could not even recognize that there was a game card in the system. With this issue being a frequently reported problem, there was an easy solution that was found, just plug in a headset and the issue would be fixed. The problem is due to a design flaw that put the headset jack right next to the game card port. With the jack and card insert being so close together it moves the wiring just enough to make the game insert to glitch out. Hopefully this problem can be fixed with a redesign. Which I’ll cover later in this article.
Second issue that was being a thorn in the backside is the joy cons. The issue consists of a synch issue with the joy cons to the console while switching from mobile to the dock. Meaning while you are playing the Switch on the go in mobile mode, the joy cons would work fine due to being directly linked to the console. That works fine until you come home and disconnect the joy cons after putting the console on the dock. The issue was that the joy cons wouldn’t work or have heavy input lag. This caused a lot of problems with using the joy cons as nunchukus. The solution was to put the joy cons on the charging frame, connect the Switch to the dock and allow the joy cons to sync back that way. It’s an easy fix for a constant issue that you won’t notice until you’re already deep in the game.
Third issue pertains to how easy it is to scratch the screen of the console. The issue is due to a last minute change in material that was being used for the screen. The original specs of the switch said that Corning’s Gorilla Glass was going to be used for the screen, which is a standard material used in most smartphones and tablets today. But to be more cost effective and keep the Switch at a certain price point, they opted for a cheaper and just strong material. That decision has turned to a sizable weakness for the Switch. The material that was chosen was a plastic polymer that just gives the feel and look of glass but still has frailty of plastic. Cracks haven’t been too much of an issue, the material holds up for the most part. However, due to the constant removal of the console from the dock and playing on the go, the screen takes heavy abuse. The added abuse that you don’t realize it takes is from the clearance between the screen and the wall of the dock. If you’re not paying attention to the angle at which you insert the console to the dock can add more strain the screen. The fix is easy and difficult at the same time. Easy fix; a screen protector. Mini tablets and oversized smartphone innovations have led to the creation of screen protectors for any size and dimension. The difficult fix is to replace the screen with an actual Gorilla Glass screen, which will only come from a redesign and relaunch.
Finally, the last major issue is a really big one. The issue the melting and corruption of SD memory cards. This, in my opinion, is the major issue due to potential fire hazard. The issue is strictly due to a design flaw of putting the SD port on the bottom of the console next to the USB insert. Here’s where things get technical since there is no easy fix other than recall and take it back to design (this is the most extreme scenario). For the why and how of this issue, the melting is due to heat generated from charging while playing for extended hours of gameplay (about 12+hrs straight). With the micro SD card so close to constant current of electricity from the USB insert gives off massive amount of heat, the SD card is made of plastic which has melting point. Nintendo did try to counter this by putting insulated wire and insulation around the SD card. However, the insulation can only hold up to a certain temperature for a set amount of time, after which the insulation becomes a liability. The insulation will continue to work, however, once you exceed those limits again you run the risk of damaging your switch and SD card. The fire hazard comes from constantly hitting and exceeding that threshold of the insulation. Constantly doing so corrodes the wires themselves, which could lead the solder to being compromised, and if the SD card is already at melting point it could possibly allow the electricity going through the Switch arc randomly setting the console on fire.
NOTE: This scenario can potentially happen over time if gaming time exceeds 12+hrs, constant playing while the console is on the charger or while charging, and SD card is already compromised.
All of these issues have either easy fixes or ways to avoid the problem. It doesn’t appear that Nintendo did the proper amount of stress tests that could have been instrumental at catching these problems before launch. However, due to the rushed nature of release and rant of information, it leads us to believe they just wanted to put a product on the market. Now, there are some benefits to putting the console back to design and relaunch. Giving it bigger internal memory, if iPod had a design and concept of making the iPod classics 1TB while still fitting in our hands then Nintendo can do it as well. Replacing the plastic lenses for Gorilla Glass on the screen will allow the Switch to get cleaner resolution and have the capacity to project 1080p, as well as more scratch resistance without a protector. Redesign would give us a chance for better signal for the joy cons to operate and function on. Spacing the game port a little further from the headphone jack would keep the headphone jack from disrupting the connection, and could only be a benefit in the long run.
Honestly, a relaunch and redesign will be costly but in my opinion will be better for the long run of the Switch. Sega redesigned and relaunched the Genesis 3 times before finally before putting out the Saturn. Proving it can be done without hurting sales or brand reputation. In my opinion there are still plenty of good things that have come from the Switch. The Switch is groundbreaking, and it’s really going to show as time goes on and more titles are released that will showcase its capabilities.
Luis #failluis Benavides. Jr VP of Gaming for The Nedery Podcast