This week, Nintendo added a new app to its eStore for the Switch: Hulu. It’s the first major media app to arrive for the device, and it helps to demonstrate the Switch’s potential beyond gaming.
When I picked up my Switch earlier this year, I quickly became a fan of how portable the device was: it’s lighter than its predecessor, the Wii U’s GamePad, and moves seamlessly between living room and anywhere else I’ve brought it. My TV habits — like many others — aren’t limited to the living room. I’ve got the Netflix app on my iPhone and iPad, and those are used everywhere the TV isn’t: I’ll frequently throw something on one of those while I’m working around the house, cooking, or eating lunch. But my iPad is one of the original ones, and it’s getting old. And while the Switch’s screen isn’t that much bigger than my iPhone 8 Plus, the slightly larger size is noticeable. One downside of watching TV from your phone is also that it’s not all that uncommon to get a push notification while I’m watching something.
Since I’ve added Hulu to my Switch, I’ve found that it’s an ideal device for watching the various shows that I’m working to catch up on. My wife and I often watch something during dinner, and while we don’t usually take 40 minutes to eat, the Switch’s design makes it stupidly easy to dock and start back up, without having to fire up another device, and another app. The Switch’s Hulu app itself works decently — it’s fairly responsive, though it has frozen up on me a couple of times. The UI is similar to the Xbox and iOS apps. If there’s any downside to the app, it’s that you need both Joy-Con controllers to make it work — the touch screen doesn’t work here. Obviously, battery life is an issue here, too. You can use the Switch to watch a couple of episodes, but it’s not exactly something I’d use out of the house, say, on a long road trip.
My colleague Ashley Carman opined the other day that the Switch’s kickstand is bad, and I would agree with her when it comes to gaming. But using the Switch as a streaming device, where I don’t actually have to touch it or use the controllers, is where the kickstand redeems itself. It props the device up at the right angle to watch, especially when I’m standing at a counter or sitting at a table.
The Switch as a streaming device, in addition to gaming, is a natural next step. Although only Hulu is available now, it shouldn’t be long until other apps like Netflix make their way onto the device, which will make the Switch an even more powerful entertainment gadget.