[Updated with more details from Friday stream: 7:30 am PST 1/13/17]
Nintendo didn’t disclose everything about the specifications for its Nintendo Switch game console tonight, but it did share more details than it has at any time before this event in Japan.
The Switch preorders start on January 21. The hybrid home game console and portable will launch worldwide on March 3, 2017, for $300 in the U.S. We know that Nvidia is making the processor inside the system, but Nintendo didn’t even mention the graphics chip maker at its event tonight.
One piece of news: the Nintendo Switch’s 6.2-inch screen has capacitive multitouch capabilities, meaning you can tap the screen with multiple fingers at the same time. Nintendo confirmed to us that the Switch has 32 gigabytes of internal memory, and it is expandable via microSD cards. The 256-gigabyte microSD card fits in the back, near the kickstand.
Nintendo spent a lot of time talking about the Joy-Con controllers. There’s a left and a right version, and Joy-Con grip that connects them so they can be used as one controller. Each controller has an accelerometer and a gyro sensor, enabling the Joy-Cons to detect movement. The right Joy-Con also has an infrared camera sensor that can detect shapes and objects a couple of feet away.
The Joy-Con straps come with a metal bar that slides over the top. They give you an easier way to push the shoulder buttons on the side of the controller. Nintendo also showed a traditional Pro controller, and a driving wheel accessory.
The right Joy-Con also has a near-field communications read/write wireless sensor, which can read or write data to and from an Amiibo toy. The left Joy-Con has a capture button that can be used to take instant screenshots of gameplay and share them with friends on social media.
Nintendo didn’t say anything about the horsepower of the machine. It did say that up to eight players can play together on local multiplayer, for games such as Mario Kart 8. Both Joy-Con include advanced HD Rumble, which can provide compatible games with subtle vibrations that are much more realistic than before. Immersion said that it worked with Nintendo on the HD Rumble tech, which uses Immersion’s TouchSense technology.
The system will include the main console, Joy-Con (L) and Joy-Con (R) controllers, a Joy-Con grip (to which two Joy-Con are attached and used as one controller), a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock (which holds the main console and connects it to a TV), a HDMI cable, and an AC adapter. Two stylish versions of the system will be released: a version with a set of gray Joy-Con, and a version with one neon blue and one neon red Joy-Con. Both versions will be the same price.
Battery life can last for more than six hours, but will vary depending on the software and usage conditions. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played for roughly three hours on a single charge. While away from home, Nintendo Switch can be charged by plugging the AC adapter into the console’s USB Type-C connector.
The console will have online connectivity that will be free at first, but Nintendo will begin charging for the service sometime in the fall. The online service includes a smart-device application available in the summer that will let users invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with one another as they play compatible games. The fully featured paid service will be available in the fall.
The Nintendo Switch software will not be region locked. Nintendo’s purchase link has prices for each individual accessory. We still have a lot of questions, but here’s what we new from our earlier reporting. There’s still no word about whether Nintendo is taking advantage of cloud gaming.
Nintendo said the device operates on Wi-Fi. It didn’t say whether it also has 4G LTE connectivity, which would be particularly useful when mobile. It also didn’t mention services such as Netflix or Hulu.