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July 7, 2021

🤖 Hi all! Nick here again, covering for Tristan for the next week. We tried deploying our Trist-AI bot for this, but it ended up wandering into the kitchen in search of Tim Tams.

Meet the Nintendo Switch (OLED)

After months (or years?) of leaks and speculation about an upgraded Nintendo Switch console, the Japanese gaming giant finally revealed its new hardware yesterday… via a tweet.

However, the lack of fanfare was somewhat warranted. The new $350 Nintendo Switch (OLED) console launches on October 8, and it’s an incremental upgrade at best.

In fact, the only significant upgrade is the eponymous OLED screen, and even that isn’t too impressive. For reference, the nearly-decade-old PlayStation Vita shipped with a 5-inch OLED screen (and Bluetooth audio to boot).

You can watch the official (and somewhat cringy) announcement trailer here, but here’s the lowdown:

What Ninten-did:

  • New 7-inch OLED screen with reduced bevel, better contrast, and more vibrant colors.
  • Wider kickstand that adjusts to different viewing angles.
  • LAN port added to dock for improved online play.
  • Internal storage bumped up to 64GB (from 32GB).
  • Slightly improved speakers.
  • Now comes in a new white colorway.

What Ninten-didn’t:

  • No improvements on internals. It features the same chipset, RAM, and battery life as the standard Switch.
  • No improved resolution. The OLED panel is still 720p, meaning reduced sharpness due to lower PPI.
  • No 4K output. Docked play still maxes out at 1080p.
  • No Bluetooth audio. You’ll still need to buy a dongle.
  • No upgraded Joy-Cons. Expect drifting over time.

Who is this for?

  • If you already have a Nintendo Switch, it isn’t much of an upgrade. The larger OLED screen is great for handheld gaming, but since the resolution remains the same it isn’t a game-changer.
  • If you don’t already have a Switch and don’t want the non-dockable Nintendo Switch Lite, it’s probably worth the extra $50 over the base model.
  • If you primarily play on a TV in docked mode, there’s very little reason to get the OLED model. Aside from the LAN port in the new dock, performance will be exactly the same as the cheaper model.
  • From a business perspective, the new model may be less about pleasing hardcore gamers and more about stabilizing demand. As NPD analyst Mat Piscatella puts it:
  • Back in the day, Nintendo portable revisions would stabilize the demand curve and firm up ASPs. They were about maintaining sales performance, and preventing the pull of price drops and stale inventory. The Switch OLED is right out of this successful playbook.”

Note that there’s still no mention of a Nintendo Switch Pro, which is what most fans really wanted/expected. That doesn’t mean it isn’t in the works, but it’s unlikely to see release before late 2022, perhaps paired with the highly-anticipated Breath of the Wild Sequel.

My favorite take? “The real Switch Pro was the friends we made along the way.” (via Reddit user u/FinalHero13).

Roundup

👂 Nothing continues to trickle out information about its first product, the Ear 1 earbuds. In this case, it’s a sub-$100 price tag and active noise cancellation (Android Authority).

📷 The megapixel wars may be slowing down, with Samsung rumored to be sticking to a 108MP sensor in its upcoming Galaxy S22 lineup, focusing on “polish” rather than more raw pixels (Android Authority).

📱 Speaking of Samsung, the Galaxy S21 FE was recently spotted passing through China’s TENAA certification agency, revealing key details about the upcoming device (Android Authority).

🐌 Recent findings indicate that the OnePlus 9 Pro may be slowing down performance in Chrome (AnandTech).

🛠 Sources indicate that President Biden may push the Federal Trade Commission to create new “right-to-repair” rules. This would be huge news for consumer tech like smartphones, but the big winners would actually be farmers (Bloomberg).

👃 Amazon is now selling COVID-19 test kits for $39.99, with results in 24 hours. Relive the excitement of incredibly invasive nasal swabs from the comfort of your own home! (Tech Crunch).

🕹 In what could be a huge boon for game developers, Amazon is making its Lumberyard game engine open-source, providing a free alternative to licensed products like Unity (VentureBeat).

🏎 Peugeot has revealed its new hypercar that will be used for the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race and several other events in the World Endurance Championship series (Ars Technica).

Weirdness Wednesday

In what is perhaps the pettiest use of AI tech in recent years, digital artist Dries Depoorter used facial recognition to spot how often Flemish politicians are distracted by their smartphones while parliament is in session.

Each time the software detects an errant glance, the politician is named and shamed on Twitter under the handle The Flemish Scrollers.

You might argue that they could be doing important work on their phones, but there is a bit of history to the contrary. For example, Flemish Minister President Jan Jambon sparked outrage in 2019 when he was spotted playing Angry Birds on his phone during a policy debate in Parliament (via The Brussels Times).

I, for one, welcome this kind of accountability (at least while I’m still working from home).

Until tomorrow,

Nick Fernandez, Editor

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