Nintendo Switch OLED, DF's Tom Morgan would like a non-portable 4K Switch

Nintendo Switch OLED, DF's Tom Morgan would like a non-portable 4K Switch

Nintendo Switch OLED

Nintendo Switch OLED improves the gaming experience for those who use the Japanese hybrid console in portability, no doubt. However, those who prefer to connect the system to the TV will not perceive any difference compared to the original model, and that is why a Nintendo Switch 4K in the home version, not portable, would be needed.

The provocation, which, however, definitely has the its because, comes from Tom Morgan, one of the editors of Digital Foundry: the English newspaper has never made any secret of having a penchant for uncompromising hardware and visual experiences, and like so many users it was a bit banned from Nintendo's announcement Switch OLED model.

Having however already given up the gimmick of the "switch" between home console and portability with the launch of Nintendo Switch Lite, what would prevent the Japanese company from going the other way and bringing a set top box capable of running games at 4K exclusively by connecting to a television?

At that point it would be a real return to the origins for the Kyoto house, in the context of an operation which, however, should be justified in some way and could no longer count on the undoubted charm of portability , on which so far it has been aimed and with good reason.

Thinking of the Nintendo 2DS announcement, which seemed like a joke at the moment, there is actually no valid reason why the Japanese company should rule out such a possibility.

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Nintendo's OLED Switch isn't for you, and that's fine

a screen shot of <a href="">a video game</a> remote control: Nintendo © Provided by CNET Nintendo

'I need the TLDR,' a friend texted me in June. 'Should I wait to buy a Nintendo Switch?' 

Wanting to secure a birthday surprise for her boyfriend, she had done some Googling and discovered the upcoming existence of a newer, better device. I told her the new model might be called the Switch Pro, might support 4K and might be worth waiting for. 

Not so. The new model doesn't support 4K, and it's not called the Switch Pro. Actually, I don't know what it's called. Switch OLED? Switch with OLED? Regardless, as the name -- whatever it is -- suggests, its main improvement is the OLED display. 

It'll be 0.8-inches bigger than the regular Switch's 6.2-inch screen, with deeper blacks and better contrast. Other touted features include an improved kickstand and 'enhanced audio.' In other words, it's anything but a generational leap. These modest improvements come with a modest price hike. The Switch Deluxe launches at $350 on Oct. 8, at just $50 more than the Non OLED Switch.

a close up of a computer © Nintendo

That seems fair, but the online reaction hasn't been kind. That's because, like me, it appears most people anticipated more. An upgraded Nintendo Switch was first reported by Bloomberg some 11 months ago -- long enough for imaginations flourish and expectations to soar. 

And those inflated expectations are the issue here -- not the New and Slightly Improved Switch. If it was a surprise announcement, gamers would have met the new edition with a polite 'fair enough.' It's only against hopes of substantial hardware improvements, and existing owners wanting a decent reason to upgrade, that the reaction becomes 'Nintendo ruined everything again!' 

Don't get me wrong. If I had it my way, Nintendo would have announced a Switch Pro with 4K resolution, a new graphics chip and better battery life. I'd also fix the ongoing drift issues with the console's Joy-Cons, and its lack of native bluetooth support -- which is absurd at this point. But with the Nintendo SWOLED, Nintendo isn't trying to get my dollar. There are millions of people who care about 4K gaming, but there are billions who play games that don't. 

Nintendo cares about that second group.

Video: New Nintendo Switch adds bigger OLED: Here's what we know (CNET)

New Nintendo Switch adds bigger OLED: Here's what we know






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The NintendOLED Switch makes sense for a few reasons. 

First, Nintendo isn't yet interested in the Switch 2 or anything resembling a next-generation console. Doug Bowser, Nintendo America's hilariously named president, told Polygon in December that we're at around the 'midpoint' of the Switch's lifecycle. Since the Switch has sold more units each year -- 15 million in 2017's financial year, 17 million in 2018, 20 million in 2019, 26 million in 2020 -- Nintendo rightly sees that it doesn't need to do anything drastic with the console's hardware. A gentle nudge, like a bigger and clearer display, should keep the money flowing. 

This is the company's modus operandi. Do you remember the 3DS XL , the DS Lite , and the Game Boy Advance SP ? Of course you do! They were awesome. But don't forget the 2DS , the 2DS XL, the DSi , DSi XL , the backlit Game Boy Advance SP and the Game Boy Advance Micro -- which Nintendo released almost a year after the original DS. 

'Extend Console Lifespan with Iterative Models' isn't catchy, but it's the name of the game. 

Like all of the aforementioned renovated models, the OLED Switch has two goals. It serves diehard fans, numbering in the millions, who flock to buy any new Nintendo console. Second, and more importantly, it provides an extra option to people who haven't bought a Switch yet.  

The console has sold over 84 million units since 2017, about 16 million shy of becoming the best-selling Nintendo home console ever. But the company isn't scraping the barrel for more buys, as there are hundreds of millions of potential sales yet to be realized, and it's these to whom Nintendo are appealing by adding to the Switch hardware range. It's a push for those who've been on the fence since 2017, or those who have rekindled their love of gaming during the pandemic. It'll also help build hype for Metroid Dread, which launches on the same day.

The company's calculus appears as follows: Switch OLED + Metroid Dead x holiday sales multiplier = a Merry Christmas for Nintendo. I suspect the math will check out. 

Nintendo has always prized accessibility over technical prowess, which is how the Wii, DS and 3DS all became huge successes. I suspect Nintendo will eventually create a 4K-capable console when it can do so cheaply enough to sell it for under $400 -- by which time Sony and Microsoft will already be onto 8K. 

It's not a bad strategy. When my friend texted me for Switch advice -- something she's unlikely to do ever again -- she decided against waiting to buy her partner a newer, more powerful Switch. 

 'Do you have a 4K TV? Does he care about 4K graphics?,' I asked. 'We do,' she answered, 'he doesn't.'