Retro Future Electrics

A page about retro electronics, from the introduction of electricity until 1970-something. We refit old gadgets with new tech, and wonder at the makers who came before us.

Nintendo Switch Charging review

Hi Everyone, The Nintendo Switch really doesn’t fit in with retro electrics, but I was lucky to get one at the Geo Hyper Media Shop here in Japan and thought I would share some first impressions on the USB-C charging. Please note that links below for devices go to affiliate links for Amazon, which means I get a percent; however, none of these products or companies have given me any money or support, I paid for all of the items.

First impression: The switch is a solid tablet, it feels much better in the hands than the WiiU tablet, and I was surprised at how much I liked the “one controller in each hand” feel, as I never really liked the Nunchuck arrangement.  In short I pretty much agree with the Ars review as far as first impressions. Biggest plus was when entering all the e-shop IDs and passwords I could un-dock the switch and type on the screen, vs entering text via joy-con.


The E-shop: As an American living in Japan, one of the things that excited me most was no region locking! This means I can get games like “tetris” in Japan as I can read enough Japanese to navigate them, but a more complex RPG or Zelda games I mail order from America so they are in English. The first thing I did was set up a Japanese and American account on the system and this worked flawlessly! I just linked my Japanese and American accounts and could access both e-shops without problems. Super Awesome! I have access to point cards from both countries so I’m not sure if it does credit-card region locking.


USB C Charging!

Charging with USB-C: USB-C is still relatively new. It famously replaced all ports on the Apple Macbook Pro and is used by several high end Android tablets and phones. It’s a great standard, reversible connector, lots of power options (including the 15V that the Switch uses); however, with great flexibility the cables need to meet a higher standard or they can send the wrong signals to the chargers. These cables aren’t “smart” in the sense that they have ICs, but they do have various resistors and tricks to let devices know what they are capable of doing. A Google engineer, Benson, Leung,  does a great job of explaining all this on his G+ page .

The included charger is listed for 15V and 5V output. I used a Satechi USB-C Power Meter to measure what was going on.

The included adapter charged with 15V @ 1A or about 15W of charging.

Hooked up via USB-C to a PECHAM USB-C charger it charged with 5V @ almost 2A (10W)


Hooked up via a USB-A to USB-C cable from VCE  it charged with 5V at about 1.5A (7.5W)

So the great news is: Region free e-shop (and physical games supposedly, but I haven’t tested this), the Switch can charge off your existing USB chargers with the correct VCE (or other approved) cable. USB-A and 5V USB-C charging is 1/2 and 2/3rds the speed respectively, but this is probably ok for most use cases. I suspect we’ll see more USB chargers that support 15V (Like this one) as time goes on, as the switch can obviously support 15V going in so if you don’t have a USB-C charger it’s probably worth buying one of those for faster charging and more future proofing for newer USB-C devices.


If you have anything else you’d like me to check on the Switch please leave a comment!

The Pecham Charger: