Nintendo Switch Battles Launch Hardware Issues

Nintendo Switch Battles Launch Hardware Issues

A hardware launch means hardware launch issues and Nintendo is no different.

The Nintendo Switch is off to a good start worldwide, but that doesn't mean that everything is roses and sunshine for the console. This is the first time that Nintendo seems prepared with stock for the console, with the company hoping to ship 2 million Switches worldwide by the end of March. The problem with more production units is a higher chance for production hardware issues and Nintendo isn't exempt from this.

The first issue that popped up came before the system even launched. Some reviewers noted that their left Joy-Con would occasionally disconnect from the Switch completely. After a bit of research, the determination was that the issue was due to a weak or blocked Bluetooth signal. The Joy-Cons don't have a physical input connection with the Switch, they work via a persistent low-level Bluetooth connection. In certain situations, that signal can be interfered with.

Nintendo backed that up with information released after the Nintendo Switch's worldwide launch. In the support article, Nintendo laid out some guidelines for those who were experiencing Joy-Con connection issues. The company said that the Switch console should not be placed behind your television, near an aquarium, behind a metal object, up against a large amount of wires, or within three to four feet of another wireless device. For some consumers, this presents a few issues, as there are numerous wireless devices in modern households, including internet routers, televisions, other consoles, and smartphones.

Further, the Joy-Con connection issue seems to be a hardware lottery. Some folks have major issues with their Joy-Cons even in clear line of sight. Others, like myself, have no issues even with extensive testing to actually replicate the problem.

In a teardown of both Joy-Cons, Spawn Wave Media's Jon Downey noted the difference in signal strength between the two units is probably down to the right Joy-Con having a separate dedicated Bluetooth antenna. In the left Joy-Con, the antenna is a part of the circuit board, behind a metal box containing the analog joystick and under the shoulder buttons. All this means you're more likely to block the signal in normal play. Downey did some do-it-yourself tuning to extend the antenna and ended up improving his Joy-Con.

There's no indication that Nintendo will be providing improved Joy-Cons for those experiencing the problem, or if there will be a Joy-Con revision in future Switch units.

Then there's the issue with the Nintendo Stick Dock scratching some screens. The Switch Dock itself is made of plastic and there's no covering of hard edges. Some Docks are slightly off-center and not perfectly straight, meaning users who put their Switches into the Dock may find scratches on their screen. On the bright side, those scratch tend to be on the bezel, not the screen itself. On the poor side, no one wants to spend $300 for a device that scratches easily with normal use.

To prevent the problem, some Switch owners have taken to modifying their Switch Docks to prevent scratched. Over in a NeoGAF thread about the issue, users has shared pictures of their Docks, covered by the soft plastic from the Switch retail box, felt tape, electrical tape, and the soft side of sticking Velcro pads. Others has heated their Docks with a hair dryer and bent them into a better shape. One user removed the front of their Dock completely, given that the device is mostly hollow plastic.

It does seem like a bit of an oversight on Nintendo's part, those most will find out pretty early if they're going to have the problem.

Below those two, other folks are having an issue with the system's Wi-Fi connection. Once again, this is an issue that's not touching every user, but for those it does, it's rather annoying. These folks have either poor connections to their local Wi-Fi, or in some cases, they're unable to connect at all. Users on Reddit and NeoGAF have reported the problem and those with signal testing equipment have reported that other consoles in the same area have stronger signals.

The Nintendo Switch's Wi-Fi supports 2.4ghz and 5ghz signals, but users have reported that both ranges experience problems. Nintendo's support article on the matter urges users to move their Switches closer to their router.

And behind those issues are a whole host of random smaller problems, including bricked consoles, busted screens, poorly calibrated screens, and more. It's worth noting again that Nintendo isn't the only manufacturer with launch hardware issues. The PlayStation 4 had the wobble issue and problems with the Dual Shock 4's thumbsticks wearing down real quick. The Xbox One had a controller issue, where certain controllers would simply disconnect from the system at random.

It's one of the problems with launch hardware. You're the one finding all of the kinks out. Despite that, it's important to realize that just because hardware problems at launch are normal, that doesn't make them not problems. They are and Nintendo should do their best to rectify the issues.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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