Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nintendo Switch: price, release date and features

Nintendo Switch
It is official, the Nintendo Switch, will be released on March 3, 2017 at the rate of 300 euros. Although the manufacturer has revealed to the drops the information on his machine, we know now most of its characteristics. So here's all there is to know about the last console of the Japanese giant. After giving us a first glimpse of its new console on October 20, Nintendo officially introduced the Switch Friday, January 13, 2017 at 5 am (French time) at a conference in Tokyo. It was also completely broadcast live.

The trailer broadcast by the Japanese giant at the end of October 2016 allowed us to know the main lines of the project of Nintendo for this new machine. We already knew that the Switch would be a hybrid console / laptop, which could be placed on a dock connected to the TV or take with you to play in "nomadic mode". This is equipped, for this purpose, with a secondary screen and detachable and modular joystick controllers, called Joy-Con. Outside of its dock, the console (with attached levers) is 102mm high by 239mm wide and 13.9mm thick, all for a weight of 398g (297 without the joysticks). For a long time, the manufacturer has remained discrete regarding the technical characteristics, the price or the date of exit of the machine, but most of this information is now known.


Powered by Nvidia
This was  confirmed by the in-person founder , the Switch embeds a Nvidia Tegra mobile processor specially modified for the console of Nintendo, which also integrates a GPU. This one is based on the architecture used within the "best" GeForce graphics cards, just says Nvidia. Nintendo did not give any additional details on the CPU / GPU part, so we still do not know much about the actual graphics capabilities of the machine, so. Note that our confreres of CNET.com have spotted some occasional slowdowns on the last Zelda. According to NeoGaf user, who would have found a series of documents detailing, among other things, the CPU / GPU part of the machine, the Switch would embed a 64-bit Tegra X1 processor with 4 cores Cortex A57 and Clocked at 2GHz (maximum). The integrated graphics chip would be based on the Maxwell architecture, not Pascal, and would have 256 CUDA units for a maximum frequency of 1GHz. On the RAM side, the documents point to a total of 4GB. 

Image definition: minimum union
Initially, the rumor  evoked the 900p in "portable mode" and the Full HD (1920 x 1080p) in "salon mode". A second corridor sound  pointed more towards 720p for the mobile screen of the console. The last one was more optimistic: we were talking about Full HD in "portable mode" and WQHD (2560 x 1440) in "lounge mode". In the end, Nintendo has done the bare minimum: a 6.2-inch touch screen with a 720p HD resolution for  "portable mode " and FullHD in  "lounge mode". It should be noted, however, that the leaked documents on NeoGaf indicate a compatibility of the machine with different video codecs allowing reading of 4K streams.

The surround sound
On the audio side, the console provides 5.1 surround sound when placed on its dock. When removed from it, two small speakers take over. A jack port is also present to connect headphones in "portable mode". 

Original joysticks
Each Nintendo Switch contains two Joy-Con. These can be hung on a bracket supplied with the console, the Joy-Con Grip, to make it an independent controller. They can also be attached to the tablet, for "nomadic mode",  or can be used individually by two players. The Joy-Con also incorporate an infrared sensor to detect motion, in the manner of the controllers of the Wii. They are also equipped with a haptic feedback system (vibrations) and an NFC chip for Amiibo in particular. 

Limited storage capacity
We did not know anything about the memory of the Switch. We now know that the machine only has 32 GB of internal storage. So we are far from the 500GB or 1TB of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. However, a microSD card port is present to expand this frankly limited capacity.

Very limited range
The lounge / portable hybrid side of the Switch was the great novelty of the console. Unfortunately, the autonomy announced by the Japanese giant in "portable mode" proves very disappointing. The latter spoke from 2.5 to 6h depending on the resources required by the games, brightness and other variables. The battery embedded in the machine has a capacity of 4310 mAh, it recharges in 3h and is not removable. To replace it in case of problem, it will be necessary to send the console to Nintendo, which will carry out the operation for a financial fee at an unknown price.

Connectivity: everything is there, or almost
Several sources agreed that the Nintendo Switch would use USB-C to recharge, which was not really surprising. At last week's CES in Las Vegas, Hyperkin had also brought USB-C cables to the console, cutting the grass under the foot of the Japanese firm, which had said nothing on this subject. This is now done, and Nintendo has confirmed the presence of USB-C as well as three USB 2.0 ports on the dock of the console. The support of USB 3.0 "is planned in the future" according to the firm. The machine also has an HDMI port for connection to the TV and connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi ac or Ethernet (via an adapter sold separately). Bluetooth 4.1 is also part of it, but only on its dock in "lounge mode".

Multi-player: 8 Switch locally, paying online
Note that a total of 8 Nintendo Switch can be connected to each other for local multiplayer. The online game will pay off, however, but will cost much less than the competition. Indeed, the tariff will be "between 2000 and 3000 yen per year", or about 16 to 24 € (against 60 in Sony). For this award, customers will be entitled to a game and access to online games. Last thing, the players will be able to communicate with each other only from a dedicated mobile application.

Nintendo Switch

What games for the Switch?
As a support for the games, Nintendo decided to  return to the cartridges, but the Switch is not compatible with the Wii U and 3DS titles. On the other hand, the console is dezoned, so you can play Japanese or American games without worries. 

The side of the  "lineup"  of the console, Nintendo has announced that more than 100 titles were in development, including Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Dragon Quest X, XI, Heroes I and II, Splatoon 2,  Skyrim,  1, 2, Switch, Arms, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, The Ultimate Street Fighter II, The Final Challengers, Super Bomberman R, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Fire Emblem Warriors, Skylanders Imaginators , Musecraft, Has Been Heroes, Just Dance 2017, Disgaea 5 Complete, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Rime, Steep, Fast RMX, Syberia 3, Sonic Mania, Project Sonic 2017, Lego City Undercover, I Am Setsuna  as well as NBA 2K18.

It is rumored, moreover, that  Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Beyond Good & Evil 2, a Pokémon Stars and an Assassin's Creed would find their way to the Nintendo Switch. Finally, note that the Japanese firm also published a list of partners on Facebook, and declared during the presentation of its financial results on 1 February 2017 that more than 70 studios were currently working on games for the Switch. 

Finally, Nintendo announced during a Q & A session with its shareholders and investors that the Switch will be "as well compatible with Unreal and Unity as with our own development tools". What should be understood is that the firm intends to facilitate the creation and porting of games on its new console thanks to the support of these very popular graphics engines, especially in small development studios. We must also expect to see independent games on Switch. It will also simplify the portability of a title released on PC. This should take "less than a year" work after the company.

Interface and multimedia: many absent
We still do not know much about the interface of the console. During its presentation, Nintendo has completely put aside this aspect. However, an official image published a little later gives us a first glimpse of the rather clean main menu of the console. We can see that the games are clearly highlighted: the buttons for accessing the online shop, the settings and other functions are discreet and located at the bottom of the screen. We also note the absence of Mii or Miiverse.

Regarding multimedia and other console features, it's very simple, Nintendo has repeatedly stated that it has focused entirely on the game. Thus, the company told Kotaku that the machine will not be compatible With no streaming service: no Netflix, Twitch, or even YouTube, so. Moreover, in an interview with Time published Tuesday, February 7, Tatsumi Kimishima, Nintendo President added that there will be no Internet browser. You should expect 100% video games, at launch anyway. Indeed, the firm could integrate these features in the future. 

What about the RV?
Digitimes said last June that the Switch, also known as NX at that time, had been delayed to catch up with the virtual reality train. But after its presentation on January 13, it seemed certain that the console would not offer this technology. This despite a patent about virtual reality filed recently by Nintendo.

However, while the Switch will not be RV compatible at launch, Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima said Thursday, February 2, 2017: "If we can solve the [virtual reality] We will integrate it in one way or another". Note that the Unity engine also facilitates the development of VR-compatible games. Its support will be an asset if Nintendo decides well to plunge into this universe.

Released on 3 March at 300/330 euros
According to journalist Laura Dale , the first prize of the Nintendo Switch had to be around 230 euros, but the invoice is finally higher. The console will be released on March 3 in Japan, North America and major European countries, at a price of $ 299, without play. Two packs are offered, but they differ only in color Joy-Con. The pre-orders are already open and Amazon proposed the console at 330 euros, before dropping its price recently to 300 euros. Same rate at the FNAC. A pack containing the console plus the new Zelda is also offered at 350 euros on Amazon.

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