The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid system, functioning as both a home and handheld console at the same time. This is achieved thanks to the Dock, which allows it to be connected to a TV and engages the ‘docked mode’ functionality. It’s clearly an essential factor in the overall versatility of the Switch, but, a number of folks don’t like it. The complaints I’ve seen about the Dock mostly consist of people thinking it’s too bulky. Is that really the case?
I recently went on a short trip which lasted for just a weekend. Since I wanted to travel light, I decided to bring along my Switch since I knew it wouldn’t take up much room. I debated whether or not to also bring along the Dock, but ultimately decided to do so. One reason I made this decision is because I wanted to prove a point—seeing if the Dock is really as bulky as some people make it out to be.
All of my Switch-related items were put into backpack along with my gaming laptop, and a few other things. I carried the Switch in a headphone case along with the Joy-Con, leaving the Dock, HDMI cable and AC adapter to ride along in the backpack itself. I was able to get everything in without much hassle. My gaming laptop takes up a bit of space due to its size, and its brick-like charger only adds to that. Not to mention they’re both pretty heavy. This is in stark contrast to the Switch stuff, which were all very lightweight and of course a whole lot smaller.
Getting to my destination involved taking a 10-hour bus ride. I brought my Switch along mainly to pass the time during transit. It definitely came in handy on such a long drive. Finally, I got to my hotel and was met with quite a surprise. The room was so small that my single suitcase took up a massive amount of the already limited floor space. It was clean and cozy, but definitely super compact. The lack of space was really emphasized by the TV being mounted to the wall, with the set-box having its own little mini wall mount underneath. There was no desk, or even small table under the TV since there was barely enough space for the bed. My initial thought was that there’s no way I could get connect the Switch to the TV, but I made an attempt. Somehow, it worked.
You don’t even need a proper table to play the Switch in TV mode.
I balanced the dock on the set-top box. It’s ‘bulky’ design actually helped keep balance. I carefully placed the Switch inside the dock, and then proceeded to have a mini-heart attack as the entire thing nearly fell down. But, after trying a second time, I managed to balance it out. After connecting the HDMI cable and AC adapter, I powered on the TV and the Switch, and sure enough everything was working just fine. All I could do was laugh, since it was such a ridiculous set-up, but it actually worked. It didn’t take me long to realize that there’s pretty much no way any other home console would function in this kind of an environment. The Switch and the dock are compact enough to huddle on the top of a little set-top box. Have fun trying to do the same thing with something like an original Xbox One.
After having this experience, I really can’t call the official dock “bulky” and not travel-friendly”, like others have described it as. Clearly, it proved to be rather perfect in this situation. Still, the complaints about the Switch dock not being travel-friendly has caused quite a number of third-party manufacturers to produce their own docking solutions. The majority of these have been targeted squarely at folks who are always on the go, since the sizes of these docks are a lot a smaller than the official unit. Some are even small enough to fit in a decently-sized pocket, which is definitely not something you can do with the official dock. True, these portable docks really are more travel-friendly than the official one, but after having this experience, I don’t think I’ll ever pick one up. At least, not for that reason.
Another complaint about the official dock is that it’s pretty expensive. Prices for a single one can range from $60-$90. A lot of the aforementioned third-party docks tend to be half the price, which makes them even more attractive to some folks on top of the added portability. Really, this is the only point I can truly get behind as to why I would buy a third-party dock over the official one. The only reason I’d get any other dock at all is if the original one I already have stops working. I don’t own multiple TVs, so it’s ultimately unnecessary in my case. But, for folks that do have multiple TVs in their homes or regularly change locations and tend to play the Switch in docked mode the most, I do see the benefits of having more than one dock.
Definitely can’t do something like this with a traditional home console.
Still, I really have to stand behind the official dock. Even though it’s large compared to the third-party offerings, it’s nowhere the size of a traditional home console. For instance, the times I’ve taken my Wii and Wii U on trips have required me to almost always put them in their own dedicated bags. The consoles themselves, along with the games and controllers are what I would call truly bulky.
I’ve seen my younger brother carry around his PS4 Slim in a backpack. He only has one controller and just a few physical games, so that’s what makes this achievable. Still, the Switch and original dock are far smaller. Again, remember I managed to balance them out on top of a set-top box. There’s no way I could do the same with a PS4 Slim. It would have needed something like a stool at least, which was present in the room, but would have blocked the walkway completely had I put it underneath the TV.
Certainly, after this trip, the Switch’s overall portability and versatility has been completely proven to me. Well played, Nintendo.
The size difference is real.