Switch Charging Case Could Fix One Of The System's Glaring Design Missteps

InDemand Design's SwitchCharge gives Nintendo's new console a stronger stand, onboard cartridge storage and promises up to an additional 12 hours of portable battery life, but the coolest thing it does is move the Switch's charging port from the bottom to the side.

Playing the Switch in tabletop mode without third-party enhancements can be a bit of a pain. The flimsy tablet kickstand only offers one angle of view, and unless you get creative with props or buy a plastic stand, you can't really plug in a USB charger. It's a small problem now, that will get bigger once the Switch gets some streaming video services.

The SwitchCharge, currently enjoying a successful IndieGoGo campaign and due to ship out in August, solves the bottom charging problem handily.

Inside the lower portion of the case is a plug, much like the one inside the Nintendo Switch dock. That plug gives the Switch access to the case's 12,000 mAh battery, also allowing the tablet portion to be played and charged through the USB port on the side of the SwitchCharge unit. Just a simple pass-through, but it makes a world of difference.

I also love the little cartridge slots in the top of the unit. Knowing my propensity for losing little card-like things, I've been playing whatever's in my Switch at the time.

I've seen a lot of Switch accessories since the system launched last month. The SwitchCharge is the first one that really feels like it has the potential to significantly enhance the Switch experience.

Of course this is an IndieGoGo crowdfunded dealio, so we've not gotten a chance to test the unit out. It looks like it could solve a lot of Switch issues, but there's always a chance it could also, say, make it explode.

InDemand Design is looking for a pledge of $US85 ($113) to get one when they launch in August, but I wouldn't worry too much. Considering the reception the SwitchCharge has gotten so far, I wouldn't be surprised if they wound up in stores everywhere before the year is out.


Comments

    am i the only one who hates the coloured switch charge logo on the front bezel?

      I'm all about minimalism so it's not really my thing. It'd look especially odd if you were using black controllers instead of the coloured ones.

        for me it'd be distracting being so close to the screen and so bright, draws the eyes

    Putting the charging port on the bottom isn't a design misstep, it's to make docking and undocking the console as easy as possible.

      Could have been a side loading dock and still be easy to dock it. Plain and simple it is a design misstep to have the charge port on the bottom edge of the dock so you cant charge it when using the kickstand...

        How would a side loading dock work with the controllers?

          Maybe some sort of charge passthrough system like they use with battery cases for tablets/phones? Or take the controllers off the device while docked, since you need to do that anyway to use them while playing?

            Yeah, that wouldn't work. The video out is through the same connection, and taking the controllers off every time would be a pain in the ass.

              Legitimate question from someone who doesnt own the console. If you dont have any separate controllers and only have the joycon, how exactly do you play it without detaching the controllers when it's docked? Wouldnt you have to take them off anyway? In which case it would be a pain in the ass to play the thing in the first place?

              Also, what connector does it use? If it uses USBC or something similar then of course it would work with video passthrough as well.

                Yes it is USB-C (and I often charge mine with a Google Pixel charger which is actually a bit faster than the dock).

                With this issue though, we need to consider thermal management. The Switch is a tablet, but unlike an iPad or whatever, it doesn't constantly throttle its CPU and GPU dynamically (ie, load page then drop to low-power state). It runs full tilt, full time - either "fast" in handheld mode or "blistering" in TV mode.

                Vent on side means louder fan. Vent on bottom means louder fan. Docking upside down doesn't solve the problem because then desktop mode blocks the vent. No vent means using an SOC with a smaller die process that doesn't actually exist yet. And would be much more expensive.

                Honestly, this thing works well in TV mode and handheld mode, and desktop mode is a bonus. Yet people call it a "glaring design oversight".

                No. Thermal management is a thing.

                Last edited 13/04/17 5:13 pm

        Not with the controllers attached, and not as easy to use (or cheap to manufacture) as a simple top-loading dock.

        If I wanted a cumbersome and difficult method to switch between TV and handheld gaming, I'd buy a PS3 and a Vita and Cross-Play things. The Switch is deliberately not doing that.

          First major question is, why do you need the controllers attached to the device when it's docked? Wouldnt you have to take them off to use them while connected to the dock?

          Second of all, even with the joycon attached, what's wrong with a charge passthrough system where the dock plugs into the controller, and then passes everything though to the tablet? This has been done with devices before (charge cases for phones etc), and you can create a sleek dock similar to the old Microsoft Surface docking station, where it slides into the device? That way it's side loading, you dont have to detach anything, and it's using existing tech?

          This is not a difficult problem, what this suggests is Ninty are being lazy. People are employed specifically to design tech like this, dont assume they cant make something easy to use and also practical.

            You're extremely wrong about Nintendo being "lazy". Do you own a Switch? Have you used one? I find it hard to fathom how someone who has actually handled the device could think that its design or construction are "lazy".

            The docking process is more effortless than even the Surface dock you describe. You simply drop it in there, and sure you need to align it a bit, but gravity takes care of the rest.

            You don't even have to "snick" the USB plug in with any force at all. There's a special spring-loaded bogey thingey in the bottom of the dock that takes the weight of the tablet. positions it to the exact millimetre via two circular plastic nubs, and then lowers it onto the USB-C connection. It is an excellent piece of robust design and probably heavily tested to work 5,000+ times without breaking.

            What I think is ironic is that Nintendo probably came up with the kickstand in a flash of inspiration - hey, what if we made the SD card slot cover a kickstand! - and yet now they are being slammed for making a device that works two ways really well and one way kinda okay.

            They should never have included a kickstand. Nobody would have said anything.

          The "remove the controllers" argument is hilarious because the whole problem with the kickstand is that the form factor is a compromise for ease of docking! Yet these guys want to compromise ease of docking for the kickstand!

          Plenty of folks (like me) have the pro controller or a second set of Joy-cons and never take the controllers off the tablet.

      I also got the feeling using the Switch's kickstand is something you'd be more likely to use whilst out and about, not connected to the charger. I'm sure there's people that would, but it doesn't immediately seem an obvious use. (for me, anyway)

      I'd rather deal with a charging port on the bottom than god-awful looking addons like these. But I understand adding a battery to any portable device pretty much has no chance of looking good.

        this thing looks nice to me (logo in the viewing area aside) but i'd have no use for it like you said

        What if you're out and about, you have only 30 seconds left on the battery, a free power point, and you have to sit the switch on a desk? Like if you're over a friend's house and you're playing on the kitchen bench? No bueno, since you cant plug the power adapter in.

        This device gives you 12 hours of extra battery, AND the ability to charge it whereever you want. Automatically worth it imo. I also dont think it looks too bad either considering everything.

    I'd rather something that elevates it higher off the surface as a stand. As it is, the screen just sits too damn low when you're sitting it down like that.

    Last edited 13/04/17 2:22 pm

    sits too damn...?

      Low. Friggen firefox keeps freezing on me and switching windows and eating half my words when I type. Raging garbage fire round here.

    I doubt these guys are the only ones working on such a product, I'll wait for a more trusted brand to release their own.

    Anyone else only play it docked or am I in a small minority. I literally have not used it out of the dock except for that initial setup bit.

      Mine pretty much hasn't left the dock. Because it practically hasn't been turned on since that first weekend :P

      Though did have to take it out for a couple of the Splatoon testfire sessions, to try out the different configurations. And especially when it turned out my joycons have the sync problem when used in anything but handheld mode.

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