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Is the new Nintendo Switch OLED model right for you?

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Nintendo announced an updated model of its hybrid mobile console Tuesday, the Nintendo Switch OLED, highlighting the devices better mobile screen, as well as a handful of new external features. The company did not detail any updates to the systems hardware; based on the information available now, games wont play any better, nor will they look better on a TV screen. Instead, the form factor updates - a new OLED screen and 0.8 additional inches of real estate - will merely make games look clearer in handheld mode. The bigger screen also means thinner bezels around the image, which gives the system a more modern look.

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The form factor and docking station, unique to the hybrid console, are also getting some mild updates. The dock will now include an Ethernet port, while the console and screen itself will sport an improved and far more stable kickstand for tabletop play. And instead of 32 gigabytes of internal memory included, you'll be getting 64 GB.

Outside of these modest adjustments, the OLED version is basically the same system as the original Nintendo Switch. So who is this for? And is it for you?

- For standard Switch model owners

The Nintedo Switch OLED probably isn't for you. If you've followed gaming conversations across popular sites online, you may have heard rumors and excitement about more powerful Switch hardware, dubbed by fans as either a "Switch Pro" or "Super Nintendo Switch." Both of these concepts still live in the realm of daydreams and wishful thinking. This new Switch OLED model will likely not offer any meaningful improvements to your play experience.

There are some exceptions. Do you play mostly in handheld mode? Is the screen feeling a bit dim, or do you wish the mobile screen had thinner bezels? The OLED displays should achieve much better black levels than the standard Switch model, which uses an LCD panel.

The OLED model will also come with two features that should have been included with the Switch back in 2017: a stable, wide kickstand and a built-in Ethernet port. Until now, every Switch console could only connect to the internet wirelessly. You'd need to buy an Ethernet adapter to hard wire it in, which typically cost about $30.

The lack of certain features is sure to disappoint some. It's baffling and silly that the Switch still doesn't have built-in Bluetooth support. And while it's nice that the OLED device has an increased internal memory storage of 64 GB compared to the original 32 GB, it's still relatively small. Smartphones often offer more.

An OLED screen may be new for Nintendo, but it's old news in the consumer tech world. OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, has been the standard screen for Apple since the iPhone X in 2017. OLED panels have become a standard display option in recent years thanks to decreasing costs, and it's obvious Nintendo is taking advantage of the reduced prices now. But I can only imagine owners of a regular Switch wanting this if they really value a better screen experience in handheld mode.

- For Switch Lite owners

If you purchased a Switch Lite but regret not being able to play on a TV, this should be an easier decision for you.

You probably only own a Switch Lite because you prefer to play games in a mobile format, or the limitation doesn't bother you as much because the Lite was cheaper at $199. But now there's going to be a newer model with an even bigger and bolder screen. Playing with a Switch that can be docked to a TV setup gives you a better playground for local multiplayer.

Certain games also sometimes see slight improvements in graphics when the Switch is docked. This isn't a pronounced feature, but it happens across a few titles, and eagle-eyed players will spot the differences in detail, like in the recent "Monster Hunter Rise."

But if you bought a Switch Lite because you love the size and form factor, and aren't interested in a brighter screen, this should be an easy pass for you.

- For those who don't own a Switch

You are the target audience for this new machine.

The Nintendo Switch has been the best-selling video game console in the U.S. in the last 30 consecutive months, over the newer, far more powerful PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series machines. With more than 84 million sold worldwide and on its fourth year, it's already surpassed the lifetime sales of Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was in production for 11 years. The Switch is on track to become the most successful home console ever released by Nintendo.

Given that reality, Nintendo is relying on its age-old strategy of releasing refreshed units of the same system to saturate the market as much as possible before moving on to its next platform. It followed this strategy to wild success with the Nintendo DS family, which ultimately sold 154 million units and is barely behind the PlayStation 2 as the best-selling system ever. Nintendo hopes that these modest improvements will bring in the holdouts.

If you haven't bought a Switch by now and you're a lapsed Nintendo fan, this is the perfect reentry point. If you're not a Nintendo fan but wondering why the company's first-party titles are so critically and commercially successful, this one's for you too. If you haven't been interested in the Switch and Nintendo games, however, this new console probably won't change your mind.

- For Nintendo collectors

Everyone knows you're going to buy this. You've already tweeted to your followers that you're going to get it. You probably already have two or more Switch units. You are Nintendo's ideal customer. Congratulations, the company just gave you another reason to spend money. You love it.

Published : July 07, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Gene Park