New Nintendo Switch Lite is a no-brainer for gamers on the go

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Nintendo’s new Switch Lite marks a welcome return to handheld gaming for the company that gave us the once-ubiquitous Game Boy.

There’s nothing new tech-wise about the $200 Switch Lite, but the portable gadget feels like a whole new product — and in some cases, like the Switch that Nintendo should have been making all along.

By abandoning the namesake feature of the original Switch, which could be used both as a handheld device and tethered to a television, the Lite has been able to shave $100 from its price tag and ounces from its weight.

The new-look Switch Lite is a single piece of plastic, rather than a display with detachable controllers on the side. It measures 3.6 inches tall and 8.2 inches wide and weighs 9.7 ounces, compared to 4 inches tall and 12.2 inches wide at 14 ounces for the standard Switch.

With the smaller body, Nintendo has hardly sacrificed screen real estate, still keeping a decently sized 5.5-inch display on the Switch Lite — about the same size as the screen on an iPhone 11. The standard Switch has a 6.2-inch screen.

The changes all add up to make the Lite much more comfortable to hold than its predecessor for extended gaming sessions. With fewer moving pieces, the device feels much more sturdy and able to stand up to the rigors that a true handheld video game system is put through with regular use and travel.

While I prefer to use the standard Switch exclusively on my television, the Lite is comfortable to use on the go, and brings me back to my younger days of endless sessions with my Game Boy Advance.

The LCD screen is sharp and vibrant, and its 720p display works well for Nintendo’s famously non-graphics-intensive games.

Though the rumble function was sorely missed — Nintendo scrapped it to make more room for a larger internal battery — it wasn’t a deal-breaking loss.

The Switch Lite’s compact design hurts it in other areas, however. Multiplayer games are virtually impossible with the Lite, as there are no detachable controllers to share with a friend. And group games like “Super Smash Bros.” and “Mario Kart,” which would benefit from being plugged into a large TV, feel squeezed on the 5.5-inch display.

Even though there is a headphone jack, the lack of Bluetooth functionality for wireless headphones is also dumbfounding and a big miss by Nintendo. And the battery life, which generally sits around four to six hours, is more or less fine, but by no means impressive.

Still, the Switch Lite is an excellent handheld, with access to one of the most exciting game libraries in the business. At $200, it’s a no-brainer for anyone who wants to game on the go.

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