Nintendo's Switch console made its way to consumers today. We have one in house, and already, we can confirm that the Joy-Con controllers have connectivity problems. Our left Joy-Con, specifically, frequently and consistently delays or drops the connection to the Switch console.
This isn't an unknown problem. Several reviewers complained about this issue, and the general consensus was that people with large hands might obstruct the signal, but otherwise the Joy-Con was hunky-dory. It's not. Nintendo finally acknowledged the problem today with an article on its support website, advising consumers with faulty Joy-Con controllers to limit potential sources of interference. That list of problem devices includes:
- Cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.
- Wireless headsets
- Wireless printers
- Wireless speakers
- Cordless phones
- USB 3.0-compatible devices such as hard drives, thumb drives, LAN adapters, etc.
Nintendo advises Switch owners to move those devices three to four feet away from the console. If that doesn't work, the company asked its customers to "please power these devices off while using the Nintendo Switch console" if the problem persists, which is about as useful as having a doctor tell you to stop moving your arm if your elbow's making a weird clicking noise. But that's not all; Nintendo also said to make sure the Switch is not:
- Behind a TV
- Near an aquarium
- Placed in or under a metal object
- Pressed against a large amount of wires and cords
- Within three to four feet of another wireless device, such as a wireless speaker or a wireless access point.
That's already proven to be a problem for us. Using the Switch in TV mode requires putting the device in a dock, and the easiest place to put that dock is behind the TV to which it's connected. The alternative would be to either place it horizontally, which is worrisome because the inside of the dock isn't padded to protect the console's display, or to find somewhere else on the entertainment center to put the device. There simply isn't any room for that.
Even if there were, the Switch is probably not going to be anyone's only console. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been out for years. Combine those with set-top boxes, wireless routers, speakers, and the like, and it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the Joy-Con and the Switch will be in perfect harmony. And that's assuming Nintendo's explanation for the problem is accurate--a few tests with our console raise questions about that.
Our Joy-Con controller doesn't experience problems all the time. Issues occur only when a specific part of the controller is touched. Moving closer to the Switch, or providing line-of-sight between the two instead of allowing the TV to sit in between them, does not alleviate this problem. Avoiding the particular spot on the Joy-Con requires holding the controller in an uncomfortable position that many people (including us) won't naturally assume.
It's good to see Nintendo respond to the Joy-Con problem, but the response itself feels a lot like Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' admonishment that people experiencing cellular network problems with the iPhone 4 were just holding the device wrong. Switch itself is promising, but the Joy-Con issue somewhat mars the experience, and Nintendo's unwillingness to admit fault raises serious questions about the company's respect for its customers.