Hey, Listen! 8 Reasons to Avoid a Nintendo Switch Lite

Before we dive into the specifics, let me provide some quick background for you. The Nintendo Switch Lite is a handheld-only version of the super popular Nintendo Switch console aimed at providing a more affordable portable gaming option. However, through my years of experience reviewing gaming hardware, I‘ve discovered the $199 Lite has some serious drawbacks compared to its big brother – and other alternatives.

My goal here is not to bash Nintendo or say the Lite is a worthless system. But I want to present an objective, fact-based analysis to help guide your purchase decision. As a fellow gamer and tech enthusiast, I think it‘s vital you understand the Lite‘s limitations before unwrapping one on the holidays. With that context set, let me walk you through 8 compelling reasons I believe most gamers should avoid the Switch Lite for now.

1. Small Screen and No TV Connectivity Restrict Gameplay

The entire sales pitch of the Switch Lite revolves around portability and gaming on-the-go. But its 5.5" 720p screen is almost an inch smaller than the original Switch‘s 6.2" display. While that may not seem huge, trust me – it makes a visible difference, especially for games with busy graphics and small text.

In my experience testing the Lite, scrolling map text in Breath of the Wild was tougher to read. Fast-paced combat encounters in Fire Emblem felt more cramped. Even menu text in Animal Crossing gave me slight eyestrain over longer play sessions. And forget about comfortable local multiplayer; crowding 2-4 people around that tiny screen is just asking for shoulder fights!

But the bigger limitation is the permanent lack of TV output. Every other Switch model can "switch" between handheld and TV gaming seamlessly. Playing Mario Kart 8 or Super Smash Bros on the living room big screen alongside friends and family is an amazing perk other handhelds can‘t match. Confining yourself to that itty-bitty Lite display forever means missing out on a major selling point.

2. No Removable Joy-Cons Cripples Multiplayer Fun

Detect a pattern here? Beyond screen size woes, the absence of removable Joy-Con controllers is a huge sticking point for social gamers. Joy-Cons aren‘t some mere gimmick – their versatility and flexibility catalyzed the Switch‘s runaway success. Those tiny controllers enable impromptu motion-controlled bowling matches in your kitchen using 1-2 Switch. They allow each Mario Kart player to steer their own kart using a single portable console. Heck, even adding a spare set means a quick 4-player Towerfall battle anywhere!

But the Switch Lite turns its back on this signature innovation and says goodbye to nearly all spontaneous local multiplayer potential. All so Nintendo could excise a few bucks from the manufacturing cost. It‘s a totally baffling decision that erases a core selling point of the Switch brand. No HD rumble, no IR motion camera, no sharing a tiny screen with your little sister. If you‘re buying a Switch primarily as a social party machine, the Lite completely drops the ball.

3. Joy-Con Issues Persist with No Fix Available

Ever heard someone complain about "Joy-Con drift?" Many Switch owners have reported problems with Joy-Con analog sticks registering phantom movements even when not being touched. It‘s an annoying glitch that can make games unplayable, as your character starts walking aimlessly against your will!

Nintendo will repair affected Joy-Cons for free during the 1-year warranty period. But the Switch Lite‘s controllers are permanently attached to the system. So if drift issues emerge past the warranty, you‘ll be stuck paying over $100 for expensive system repairs. Given the Lite hasn‘t magically solved these hardware gremlins, that financial risk really dampens my enthusiasm.

4. Nintendo is Still Figuring Out This Whole Online Thing

Xbox Live set the benchmark for premium gaming network features nearly two decades ago on the original Xbox:

✔ Voice chat with friends across games
✔ Persistent cross-game achievement tracking
✔ Cloud storage for game saves

Yet in 2022, Nintendo still can‘t seem to nail down even bare minimum expectations for a modern online service. Streaming apps are scant, voice chat requires a phone app, and their cloud backup solution still lacks support for plenty of titles. It feels like they‘re figuring this out as they go compared to the robust, polished infrastructures provided by Microsoft and Sony.

The portability of the Switch Lite seems tailor made for gaming on campus or during commutes. Anywhere you‘ll want access to networked features. So why settle for Nintendo‘s lackluster, still-in-progress online offering? You deserve better for $20/year!

5. Mobile Hardware Shows Its Age vs. High-End Consoles

Let‘s address the 900 lbs gorilla in the room: raw technical horsepower compared to modern consoles. The Nintendo Switch Lite shares the same Nvidia Tegra X1 processor and overall architecture as the original 2017 Switch model. To put that into perspective:

  • The Tegra X1 CPU/GPU hardware originally launched in 2015
  • It‘s built on the 20nm manufacturing process node
  • Maximum resolution caps out at 720p HD in handheld mode

Compare that to brand new hardware like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X:

  • Bleeding edge 7nm/8nm chip fabrication
  • CPU/GPU combo over 15-20x more powerful
  • Targeting 4K 60 fps gameplay

Obviously there‘s a big difference in price tiers here. But with 5 years of mobile chip advancements since its release, the Switch Lite‘s specs are downright ancient. And there‘s no easy upgrade path to refresh that aging hardware over its lifespan. Ragging on raw horsepower feels a bit silly given Nintendo‘s family friendly focus. But if you want future proof specs or plan on playing the latest and greatest software, the Lite just can‘t keep pace with premium consoles.

Hardware MetricNintendo Switch LiteXbox Series XPlayStation 5
Launch Year201720202020
CPU Manufacturing Process20nm7nm7nm
Graphics Chip Flops (Billions)0.412.010.3
Peak Display Resolution720p4K4K

Data Source: TechSpot Hardware Charts

6. Streaming Apps Remain An Afterthought

Game consoles today aim to be more than just gaming devices. Many households use platforms like the PlayStation 5 as their primary streaming video box. Out-of-the-box it delivers easy access to Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, YouTube and far more entertainment apps. (Over 30 streaming services supported on PS5 at launch and counting…)

But Nintendo still treats media features as an afterthought. Want to watch the Book of Boba Fett finale from your hotel room on the Lite‘s lovely 5.5" postage stamp of a screen? Tough – no Disney+ app available! Enjoy juggling multiple devices because that tablet isn‘t cutting it. And the selection beyond YouTube and Hulu is rather pathetic.

Clearly the target buyer here remains gamers first and foremost. But with gaming content droughts between major releases, streaming video fills those lulls nicely. Shouldn‘t a modern portable console in 2022 cater to that need? Nintendo alone can‘t prop up an entire console. Ask Sega after the Dreamcast about that…

7. 5.5 Inches Too Small for Some Users

Mileage will certainly vary here depending on your vision, but I‘ve seen enough subjective complaints to consider the 5.5" screen a notable ergonomic downside. Nintendo whittled a sizable 16% off the original Switch‘s 6.2" display. While every fractional inch counts when striving for ultra-portability in handheld gaming devices, how small is too small?

My tipping points came while testing games like Civilization 6 and Cities Skylines on the pint-sized Lite. Their busy, data-rich UIs were far harder to parse meaningfully. Fonts shrank to squint inducing sizes even at max text size settings. And tabletop co-op? Forget about it – I could barely make out my own corner of the screen with another Lite user crowding the display. After extensive trials, I just find the sweet spot hovers closer to 6" or larger for comfortable interactive viewing. Your mileage may vary!

8. Battery Life Still Mediocre Despite Lower Screen Size

Here‘s another area where you‘d expect the more compact Lite to excel: portable battery endurance. But while it touts slightly longer run time than launch Switch hardware, even Nintendo‘s max battery life claims ring hollow in everyday usage:

  • Nintendo‘s Advertised Playtime: minimum 3 hours, maximum 7 hours
  • Tested By Digital Trends: 4 to 5 hours average
  • The Verge‘s Hands-On: 3.5 to 4.5 hours

Why the gap between marketing and reality? Several culprits here: screen brightness settings, older lithium battery chemistry, background connectivity draining power faster, inconsistent testing methodology, and games with different power demands. Regardless, best case at 7 hours falls massively short of mileage seen on handhelds designed purely for mobility. Modern gaming laptops using sophisticated variable TDP tuning can stretch to 8+ hours thanks to intelligent battery management. Again we see how the Lite‘s performance compromises in pursuit of low cost handicap real world experience.

If you‘ve made it this far reading my mini novel above, clearly you have some interest in the Switch Lite! So let me wrap up with a quick summary of better options worth considering instead to maximize your fun and avoid regrets:

Still Want Portable Nintendo Gaming? Go With Switch OLED Instead

If Nintendo exclusives are your jam but the Lite limitations concern you, the recently updated Switch OLED Model strikes a great middle ground. Upgrades like the lovely 7" OLED screen, better kickstand, wired internet support, and enhanced audio justify its current $60 premium over the Lite‘s MSRP. Yet it retains the full flexibility of TV docking plus Joy-Con controllers that made Switch a runaway crossover smash. Read our head-to-head comparison for a full breakdown!

Love PC Games Too? Check Out Valve‘s Steam Deck

For Nintendo-agnostic gamers who enjoy Windows/Mac titles, Valve‘s Steam Deck is looking like 2022‘s sleeper hit. It runs a custom Linux-based OS optimized to play thousands of games from your Steam library natively on its 7" touchscreen. The $399 base model only offers 64GB storage but supports cheap microSD expansion cards. All models feature comfortable grip handles reminiscent of the Xbox controller layout. If you‘d welcome support for a broader spectrum gaming beyond Nintendo‘s walled garden, the Steam Deck warrants a hard look.

There you have it! I know that got really lengthy, but I want to provide practical, honest advice to maximize your investing gaming time and money. The Switch Lite fills an understandable niche, but its performance and ergonomic trade offs clearly can‘t match full featured consoles. Hopefully breaking down those drawbacks helps set proper expectations about what the Lite can (and can‘t) deliver compared to alternatives. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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