This is a question that’s been burning on my mind recently, and I felt it appropriate to write a blog post about it. In essence, it’s going to be about the Nintendo Switch dock – specifically the size of it – but you probably got that from the title of the article, doy.
This isn’t a question that’s been bugging me since launch. After all, in the grand scheme of things, the dock isn’t very big at all. Compared to say, a PlayStation 4 or a Blu Ray Player, it’s fairly tiny. Barely a problem at all. Infact, my only complaint about it has been the annoying flap on the back, and how awkward it can be to shove cables into it in the dark, or from a dodgy angle. And when you start complaining about stuff being difficult when you’re practically blind or when you’re working from a less than ideal position, then, well – your complaints aren’t really worth jack shit. I accepted it’s small, yet chunky form into my life, despite it’s minor flaws.
Recently, though, I watched my brother break one down so that he could fit it inside of a smaller shell created by a third party. This essentially entailed him pulling out the main (and only) circuitboard in the device, along with the USB-C Port, and fitting it inside of a much neater shell. How much neater? Take a look at my original dock and his far smaller, snazzier dock side by side.
The original dock looks monolithic in comparison. Let me stress something – this is not a third party dock. It’s merely a third party shell – everything contained within the case is first party. Let me stress something else – no modifications were required to the original chipboard. There was no need to desolder, and no need to aggressively shift any components around. It was no more than a thirty minute job, and the majority of that time was spent undoing the gorilion screws that the original dock has in order to protect it’s miniscule innards.
After seeing this, I felt that the ‘toaster-style’ dock was cumbersome for the first time. Is it really nessecary to have a thick, bulky, and oversized layer of plastic around the tiny components? Surprisingly, I’ve come around to the answer being ‘yes’ – it’s completely nessecary for the Switch dock to be the size that it is, even if it seems unnessecary at first glance. Why? Well, I’ve got several reasons. Let me run them by you.
Or, in layman’s terms – it looks and feels good. And the Nintendo Switch dock needs to look and feel good in order to pull off it’s console handheld hybrid deal. Remove the joycons from the sides, and the dock itself is just big enough to swallow up the entire unit. The aesthetic purpose of this is simple – it makes the user feel like the dock is an actual console, rather than a glorified USB-C to HDMI converter. It completely encapsulates the normal handheld unit, obscuring it from view and turning it into something else entirely.
With the smaller dock, however, the handheld unit is completely naked for all to see. Laid bare, the illusion is shattered, the Nintendo Switch revealed to be nothing more than a simple handheld, and the dock is revealed to be nothing more than a tiny slab of circuitry that has HDMI output. The magic is dispelled, the smoke and mirrors destroyed by something that looks more like an iPod dock than a gaming console. It’s unnessecarily large in an attempt to imitate it’s larger, clunkier peers, yet made small enough so that it can exist next to them on the shelf underneath your television.
Plus, when I slide the Nintendo Switch into the dock, it makes me feel like it’s some kind of toaster. And I, and nearly everyone else, loves toast.
The amount of times that I’ve knocked my Nintendo Switch dock over is unreal. Because I tend to play the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, the dock itself doesn’t have a permanent home underneath my television. Instead, it gets moved around the living room at my whimsy, sometimes residing on top of a table or another similar surface far away from the television. This means that I’m liable to knock it off of said surface like a clumsy fuck, sending it clattering noisily to the floor in a chorus most terrifying.
Of course, it’s never broken. That’s because it has at least an inch of thick, durable plastic surrounding it’s thinner, fragile innards. Short of hitting it with a ball hammer or throwing it directly onto concrete, this thing is unlikely to shatter into a million pieces.
The third party shell, on the other hand – well, I could easily crush that fucker beneath my size thirteen foot, like a Lego in the dark, except less sharp and much more solid. A tumble onto a harder surface could cause the plastic to crack or split, a danger avoided on the original dock by just how thick the shell is. The third party shell also has several enormous ventilation holes in the back, meaning that the circuit board itself is far more exposed than the original. If you’re a clumsy fuck like me and end up spilling say, Coca Cola on it, then there are far more entry points for the destructive liquid.
Considering that the Nintendo Switch is supposed to be family friendly, it’s going to have children of a variety of ages punching, drooling, and chewing on it, too. I can’t imagine that the tiny third party shell would stand up to much abuse from an overenthusiastic child. If they threw it against the wall because they got pissed off that a Stalfos had just majorly fucked them up in Breath of the Wild, it could take a fatal dink. And that’d mean dropping about £70.00 on a new dock.
I haven’t stress tested the third party dock, for obvious reasons – so I could be blowing farts out of my arse when I’m talking about it’s durability. For all I know, it could be solid as a rock. But it’s hardly the picture of durability, is it? Let me ask you a question. What’s more durable – an iPod dock or a brick?
Now that I’ve mentioned iPod docks two (well, three now) times, this page might show up if you’re looking for one. If that is the case, sorry in advance, because I’m going to do it a few more times for SEO. iPod dock. iPod dock. iPod dock. iPod dock. iPod dock. Let’s throw in another Coca Cola, too, because why not?
Look. I don’t get many page views, alright? I have no choice but to employ unconventional tactics.
This is loosely connected to the previously mentioned aesthetic, but the original dock is much more magical than the smaller dock. Why? Well, dropping the Switch into it is just fun. Sliding it inside of it is akin to sliding it into a magician’s box, the satisfying clunk as it’s dropped within it’s tiny plastic confines, before the game seamlessly pops up on the screen. It might sound a bit pathetic and fanboyish, but jamming it into the tiny slot of the third party shell just doesn’t have the same magic.
Everything works the exact same way, of course – fitting it into the right slot brings the image up on screen just the same way that the original does. But you definitely don’t get that little click as with the original – nor do you get to see the Switch entirely encased within a box of tricks. Yes, I am going to embolded onomatopoeic words like bang or boom or chtunk – part of the new style guide, innit. Or it would be if I had one.
I’m going off topic. There isn’t much more to say, really. At this point, I’m just hammering words into a little box in order to make this section of the article roughly as big as the other sections. You might think that cheap and lazy, to which I say – it’s an article about the appeal of a larger Switch dock compared to a smaller one. The fact that I’ve managed to milk 1400 words out of this already is a feat in itself.
In conclusion, there are plenty of reasons to jam your dock’s circuit board into a tinier unit – convenience, portability, shelf real-estate – but there are also plenty of reasons to embrace the original design, as outlined above. Upon seeing the transformation from huge to tiny, I was tempted to invest in one of these tiny shells myself. In the end, though, I decided to stick with the original toaster design. For one, with the popularity of the Switch, the dock itself is going to end up being iconic, especially if Nintendo redesign it into a smaller or neater shell down the line. For two, well – read everything that I wrote above.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and put my iPod into my iPod dock and drink some Coca Cola. iPod dock. Coca Cola. iPod dock. Coca Cola. iPod dock. Coca Cola. iPad keyboard. Diet Coke.
Atomic Kote is a blog that focuses on delivering the best content that I can manage, dealing with entertainment and gaming primarily. It’s all written independently by one person, me.
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