Not so long ago, we reported on the Up-Switch Orion, a crowdfunded accessory that promised to make up for the “underwhelming” and “minuscule” Nintendo Switch screen (Up-Switch’s words, not ours). “By increasing your actual gaming screen size by 188% and upgrading your audio experience with the integrated stereo speakers, your Nintendo Switch combined with ORION will deliver the gaming experience that every gamer deserves!”
The pitch was clearly convincing because more than $165,000 was raised, totally blasting past the $50,000 funding goal. Shortly after we ran our news story, we were sent one of these $299 devices free of charge to test out, but sadly, the final product is a bit of a disappointment.
The first and most obvious issue we encountered was that the unit – when the Switch is attached – is really heavy. So heavy, in fact, that it’s uncomfortable to actually hold, which is a bit of a shortcoming when this is being billed as a ‘portable’ solution. And this is before we’ve factored in the additional weight that a battery pack would contribute; Up-Switch didn’t send us a pack with the review sample, you see. Given that you need a power cell that provides enough oomph to not only juice up the screen, but also the Switch as well (in docked mode, no less), one can only guess at how arm-achingly heavy the combined system becomes at this stage. We had no option but to connect the Orion to a power supply, which rather negates the ‘portable’ aspect of the product.
Next up is the fact that the screen itself isn’t a 1080p panel, as advertised, but a 768p panel, which our video guru Alex believes was intended to be put inside another device (a laptop, perhaps?) and has been requisitioned for use in the Orion. So put aside any notions you might have of getting full-HD performance on the move – the resolution here is only slightly better than that of the Switch’s built-in screen but is stretched across almost twice the display size.
Then we have the fact that the IPS panel inside the Orion isn’t actually that impressive. For starters, it’s covered in a matte finish which prevents glare and fingermarks but makes the image look a bit dull – and that’s an issue when you consider that the display is already lacking in punch to begin with. Sure, putting it next to the Switch OLED is perhaps unfair, but it’s not even as vibrant as the display on the original 2017 Switch. Oh, and those ‘dual stereo speakers’ (don’t all stereo speakers come in pairs?) that the manufacturer boasts about are aimed away from you on the back of the unit, which means they sound pretty weedy.
The only situation we could even remotely see this device being useful is for tabletop mode, as it means you’ve got a bigger screen to look at when you’re playing with friends (and the kickstand on this thing is decent). The problem here is that if you’re looking for a portable solution of this kind, you might as well buy one of the many, many 1080p portable monitors that are on the market, almost all of which are true HD and offer superior picture quality.
The verdict, then? Give the Up-Switch Orion a miss. For $300, there are many better options on the market.