Nintendo has always dominated the handheld gaming market and the versatile Switch is on its way to becoming the undisputed champion of modern portable gaming. While the Switch is capable of doing many things, generating an endless supply of power is not one of them. Depending on the game and console settings the advertised life expectancy of the Switch’s battery is two and half to six hours, though personal use has been consistently closer to the three to four hour range. It’s respectable, but for extended plane rides or travel that time can go by quickly. Nyko has been churning out all sorts of accessories in an attempt to make life easier for Switch users and power solutions for the handheld mode is an area Nyko has attempted to address. We’re going to take a look at a couple of these items, the Charge Base and Boost Pak.
The docking station that comes with the Switch is great for home use but a little too bulky to make it ideal for travel. The Charge Base attempts to address that issue and provide a better portable charging option. The Charge Base is significantly smaller than the docking station and plugs directly into any wall outlet. This device can be used to charge the Switch and two Joy-Cons as well as serve as a stand for the console while charging or not in use.
The Charge Base seems to charge the Switch at about the same speed as the docking station. It is useful as a secondary charging station at home if you play in handheld mode in a different room than on the television, and it’s smaller size makes it better suited for travel since it will take up much less space in any travel bag. The downside is this is strictly a charging base and will not output to a TV or monitor, so if you want to take the Switch on the road and play it in console mode you’ll need to pack the original docking station or consider Nyko’s portable docking station, but if the intent is to play the switch exclusively in handheld mode this a good travel charging option.
The Boost Pak is a peripheral that attaches to the bottom of the Switch and adds a little bit more than an inch to the height. The Boost Pak can be charged using an included USB Type-C cable or the docking station, as the Switch can be charged in the docking station with the Boost Pak attached. LED indicators on the side will show that the Boost Pak is being charged and if it is charging the Switch. Mileage will vary depending on the requirements of the games being played, system brightness and other factors like that but during the review process it was good for getting close to two additional hours of play time. It is pretty small, it runs the length and width of the Switch and less than two inches in height makes it really great for travel and that extra hour or two does make a different with the regular battery life expectancy of the Switch.
Overall the Boost Pak is a good way to extend battery life on the go, but there are a few Joyless-cons to address with this peripheral. The first and most minor complaint is that the height increase is just substantial enough to render the Switch’s kickstand pretty much useless when using this product. That may or may not matter depending on each individual user but it is a point worth noting. The second concern is also with the added height, and that is for using the Switch in the docking station. While the Switch will charge in the docking station with the Boost Pak connected, the added height hinders ventilation and cooling of the system. Nothing overheated or seemed to be damaged during the review process but the Switch did feel warmer than usual, so maybe charge the Boost Pak in the docking station but remove it if the Switch is going to be played in dock mode. The final point of contention is regarding the use of this product with a screen protector. I had a tempered glass 0.3 mm screen protector that I had to remove before attaching the Boost Pak. Doing some online research, other people reported that they were able to force this device on over the protector but it’s very difficult and likely to damage it in the process. None of these flaws are necessarily deal breakers but things to consider before making the purchase.
Even with the imperfections, both of these items are good power options for the Switch, especially during travel. The charge base is great for travel since its size is much more compact than the standard docking station, though the concession with this is no HDMI output, so it’s only useful if the Switch is going to be played exclusively in handheld mode. The Boost Pak is a little trickier to give a blanket yay or nay on the recommendation. It’s convenient for portable use and the extra playtime is great for a long flight or car ride. There are certain concessions that need to be made with it, but those are all really up to the individual on how much they matter. For example, personally the loss of kickstand functionality or overheating in the docking station aren’t concerns that matter since I’d be using this strictly on travel, but the less than ideal compatibility with the touch screen protector is disappointing. If none of these concerns are deal breakers, however, this is a good way to extend the Switch’s playtime.