I was very impressed with the Hisense U8H series TV when I reviewed it in 2022, mostly due to its very good overall picture quality and low price. The U8H was undoubtedly great value for a mini-LED TV, many of which are priced at the level where you might be inclined to consider one of the best OLED TVs instead.
While the U8H was Hisense’s only mini-LED offering at the time, the company has doubled-down on the tech for its 2023 lineup. The U8K models lead off three distinct mini–LED series, with the differences between them mainly being peak brightness capability and the number of full array local dimming zones. Audio performance is another differentiating factor, with the U8K series sporting a built-in 2.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker system.
While the new U8K doesn’t surpass its predecessor on the peak brightness front, its local dimming performance is very good, with only a few instances of backlight 'blooming' effects to distract when watching movies in a dark room. Brightness here is sufficient for the U8K to look good when viewing in daylight conditions, and the TV’s anti-glare screen helps to reduce any onscreen reflections from overhead lamps.
Hisense uses the Google TV interface for the U8K series, and it handily does the work of organizing your streaming apps and providing voice control for content searches and other functions, either using the TV’s built-in mic or the one in the set’s remote control. And while the Google TV interface is layered with personalized movie, TV series and YouTube video recommendations, there are also options to create a more streamlined look. Google TV additionally provides a Live menu that shows current free streaming channels, along with digital TV broadcasts ones pulled in by the set’s ATSC 3.0 tuner.
As for design, the Hisense U8K isn’t as slim and elegant as some of the more expensive examples of the best 4K TVs, but it has a slim bezel and a sturdy set of support feet. These can also be set to a narrow or a wider placement to clear space for a soundbar.
Gaming is one of the U8K’s strong points. The TV has a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports, and they support up to a 4K 144Hz input, along with VRR, ALLM, and FreeSync Premium Pro. Unlike some other top TVs, there’s no onscreen hub that compiles cloud gaming services, but the TV will automatically switch to a low input lag Game mode when an input from an Xbox or PS5 console is detected.
Another U8K strong point is value. It’s considerably less expensive than its mini-LED competition, while offering many of the same features and much of the same performance. I think most people will be very happy with what they’re getting here, whether the TV is used for movies, sports or gaming.
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Price and release date
Release date: June 5, 2023
The Hisense U8K series is the company’s top mini-LED TV line for 2023 (a limited edition ULED X model is also available, but only in an 85-inch screen size). There are two additional lines that use mini-LED backlighting, the U7K and U6K, with the difference between them being specified brightness and number of full array local dimming zones.
Pricing for the U8K series is highly competitive and appears set to not only put Hisense’s bigger-brand mini-LED competition – most notably Samsung and Sony – on notice, but fellow budget-oriented brand TCL as well. Prices for U8K series TVs have also dropped by quite a bit since they first shipped in June, with the 65-inch model I tested now selling for 25% less than its initial cost.
At the time of this review, the 85-inch U8K was not available, though Hisense says it should ship in late August or September 2023.
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Specs
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Features
Mini-LED backlight with local dimming
Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ high dynamic range
4K 120Hz support with up to 144 Hz VRR for gaming
The U8K series TVs use a mini-LED backlight with full array local dimming. Hisense lists the local dimming zone count at “over 1,000” and peak brightness at 1,500 nits. High dynamic range support includes the Dolby Vision (IQ), HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG formats, and there are Filmmaker and IMAX Enhanced picture modes along with an anti-glare screen to reduce screen reflections in bright rooms.
Hisense uses Google TV as a smart TV interface for the U8K series. A built-in mic gives you a hands-free voice command option (the microphone can also be switched off) and there’s also a button-activated mic on the set’s remote control. Beyond Google Assistant, the U8K has an Alexa voice control option, and it supports Apple HomeKit and AirPlay 2 for streaming from an iPhone or iPad. Chromecast built-in provides yet another streaming option.
Two of the TV’s HDMI ports support up to 4K 144Hz input from a next-gen gaming console. There’s support for VRR, ALLM and FreeSync Premium Pro, and an onscreen Game Bar menu lets you make gaming-related adjustments on the fly while playing. Additionally, the set has a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner to receive 'NextGen' digital TV broadcasts.
The TV's audio system uses a 2.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker system with 50 watts total power, with an Acoustic Tuning Adjustment providing automatic sound calibration. One of its HDMI outputs supports eARC for connecting to an external soundbar – something the TV’s width-adjustable support feet are designed to accommodate – and there’s also a WiSA option for wirelessly connecting WiSA-certified speakers to the TV.
Features Score: 4.5/5
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Picture quality
High peak brightness
Deep blacks with detailed shadows
Some backlight blooming
I reviewed a 65-inch U8K, which managed to beat Hisense’s brightness spec for the series. Peak brightness measured 1590 nits on a 10% white window pattern with the TV set to HDR Theater mode, which is notably higher than the 905 nits I measured in Fillmmaker mode on last year’s U8H series model. A white pattern covering 100% of the TV’s screen hit 760 nits, which is similarly impressive performance for that test.
With the TV’s Local Contrast (local dimming) set to High, its backlight fully switches off when displaying a full black test pattern, resulting in 'infinite' contrast. Both black and white uniformity is very good, though a degree of backlight blooming could be seen when displaying white movie titles against a black background (or red titles in the case of the film Babylon) or on black letterboxed bars where a bright object is shown at the top or bottom of the image.
In the TV’s Filmmaker picture mode, measured grayscale Delta E values averaged out to 4.1 (we typically look for these to clock in below 3) with a high of 6.3. Measurements made with Portrait’s Calman color calibration software showed coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) to be 97%, and BT.2020 to be 80%, both of which are excellent results.
An anti-glare screen coating on the U8K did a great job of reducing reflections from the overhead lights in my room. As with other LCD TVs with a vertical alignment (VA) panel, picture contrast and color saturation took a hit when viewing the TV from far off-center seats.
After breaking the TV in for a few days with casual viewing, I started out my critical viewing with the demonstration section of the Spears and Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark disc. Watching the version graded for 2,000 nits peak HDR brightness, I could see occasional banding artifacts in clouds, though the same issues disappeared when I watched it at 1,000 nits – a far more common peak brightness level for HDR programs. The disc's starfield sections also revealed a degree of backlight blooming, which showed up in the form of an elevated black level over what you would see on an OLED display, a TV tech that doesn’t use a backlight.
With the TV in Filmmaker mode, there was a notable degree of judder and blur in film scenes with camera motion. Watching a scene from the James Bond film No Time to Die, for example, a shot where the camera pans across a cemetery on a craggy hillside showed significant artifacts of both types. Fortunately, the TV’s Clarity menu provides independent Judder and Blur adjustments to minimize such artifacts, and it’s possible to create a setting that doesn’t also introduce a significant “soap opera effect” – something that the other Clarity presets generate.
Whether I was watching news channels with the lights on or streaming movies and shows with them dimmed, everything looked very good on the U8K. The Netflix movie They Cloned Tyrone has a dark and grainy-looking image, and both the shadows and grain were well handled by the Hisense. A brighter option was presented by the Apple TV Plus series Hijack, with strong HDR highlights in many of the scenes. On the U8K, these came across in a balanced and detailed manner, and there was a consistently natural look to the images.
Picture quality score: 4.5/5
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Sound quality
2.1.2 channel speakers
Good dialogue clarity, decent bass
Auto Acoustic Tuning mode
The U8K’s 2.1.2 speaker system is powered by a total of 50 watts and includes a subwoofer built into the set’s rear panel. Overall, the TV’s sound quality is quite good. Dialogue sounds clear and the speakers can get fairly loud before you start to hear any signs of strain.
The TV’s two upfiring speakers add a sense of spaciousness to Dolby Atmos soundtracks, though the effect is nothing like what you’d get when using the best Dolby Atmos soundbars. There’s also an Auto Acoustic Tuning mode that uses the mic built into the TV to equalize the sound, though you shouldn’t expect to hear a night and day difference when using it.
Other audio features include a Late Night mode (useful for reducing overall dynamic range without affecting dialogue clarity) and a multi-band equalizer to dial in the sound to your liking.
Sound quality score: 4/5
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Design
Slim form factor
Adjustable-width support feet
ATSC 3.0 tuner
The U8K series TVs have a basic but good overall look, with a slim bezel and adjustable width support feet. Being able to set the feet to either a wide or narrow width gives you a greater range of placement options, and it also helps make space for a soundbar.
At three inches deep, the U8K series lacks the incredible slimness of high-end TVs from Samsung and LG, though that’s not surprising as its casing accommodates a back-mounted subwoofer. A strip of LED indicator lights is located on a narrow panel at the set’s bottom, and a switch to turn the TV’s built-in mic is located on the same panel.
The TV’s side-mounted inputs include four HDMI ports (two HDMI 2.1 with support for 4K at 144Hz and one with eARC). There are also optical digital audio and wired headphone outputs and a powered USB port. An RF input lets you connect an antenna, and the set’s built-in digital TV tuner has support for next-gen ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.
Hisense’s compact remote control provides only a basic button set. There are controls for volume and channel selection, as well as ones to access setup menus, Google TV profiles, a built-in mic for voice control, and video inputs. A six-pack of buttons on the bottom also provides direct access to popular apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus.
Design score: 4/5
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Smart TV and menus
Google TV interface
Hands-free voice command that works with Alexa and HomeKit
Setup menus can be annoying to navigate
Hisense uses the Google TV smart interface for the U8K series. Like many smart TV interfaces, the home screen is loaded up with content recommendations, though Google TV also has an “Apps Only” mode that creates a more stripped-down presentation when enabled. Entering your Google account credentials or creating a new account, will provide you with personalized content recommendations, with the results based both on your viewing history and Google Chrome browsing activity. Multiple accounts can be created, which allows everyone in the household to have their own Google TV “experience”.
The TV’s built-in mic lets you use hands-free voice commands for content searches and basic control such as volume adjustment and input selection. You can also switch the mic off and instead use the built-in one on the remote, which is temporarily activated when you press the microphone button. Along with Google Assistant, the U9K works with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit, and you can wirelessly cast videos to it using Chromecast built-in and AirPlay 2.
Google TV’s Live TV portal presents a time-based guide featuring free-to-stream (ad-supported, of course) channels, with everything from movies to national news to cooking shows on the menu. With one of the best indoor antennas connected, you can also select a Tuner option to see a guide listing live programs from your local broadcast TV channels. Interestingly, the guide flags any ATSC 3.0 channels, so you can easily tell which stations in your area have been upgraded for “NextGen” digital TV.
The U8K’s setup menus can be a bit confusing to navigate at first, though you’ll soon enough find what you’re looking for. A Picture menu includes sub-menus for options like Brightness, Color and Clarity, with various related adjustments available for each category. It’s a comprehensive list to be sure, and fanatical picture tweakers will find much here to play with. The downside is that doing something as simple as adjusting picture brightness takes multiple remote button presses to get to a specific control. Also, the setup menu takes up half of the screen area, which makes it difficult to see the effects of your adjustments.
Smart TV and menus score: 4/5
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Gaming
4K 144Hz with VRR and FreeSync Premium Pro
No native cloud gaming portal
13ms input lag
With a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports and support for up to 4K 144Hz input, the U8K series is a great option for gaming. The Hisense also supports VRR, ALLM and FreeSync Premium Pro along with Dolby Vision gaming at 4K 144Hz. Google TV currently doesn’t offer a gaming option with native support, though you can find the Nvidia Geforce Now app in the Google Play store.
Measured using a Bodnar 4K HDMI tester with the U8K in Game mode, input lag on the U8K was 13ms, which is an average performance. When a game console input is detected, the U8K’s ALLM (auto low latency mode) feature automatically switches the TV to Game mode, and you will be able to use an onscreen game menu to adjust settings like Brightness, Dark Detail, Picture Size and High Refresh Rate Mode.
Gaming score: 4/5
Hisense U8K Series TV review: Value
Cheaper than the mini-LED TV competition
Great performance for the price
Maximum brightness is less than competition
Priced at $1,399 and selling for significantly less than that just two months after being released, the Hisense U8K is fantastic value. You’ll pay a good deal more for mini-LED TVs from Sony and Samsung, though those models are likely to offer features not found on the U8K, such as soundbar audio integration and a cloud gaming hub.
The U8K is also priced lower than the TCL QM8, a 2023 mini-LED TV that we favorably reviewed. What are the differences between the two? Brightness mainly, with the TCL TV managing to hit 2,321 nits peak light output as compared to the Hisense’s nearly 1,600 nits. Otherwise, the two share similar features and gaming specs, and both use the Google TV smart interface for streaming.
Value score: 5/5
Should I buy the Hisense U8K Series TV?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if…
Samsung QN90C mini-LED
Samsung’s Neo QLED model is pricier than the QN90C, but it offers higher peak brightness along with refined local dimming. It also has an anti-glare screen and an excellent suite of gaming features, including 4K 120Hz support and Samsung’s Game Hub for cloud-based gaming.
I spent about 15 hours in total measuring and evaluating
Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
A full calibration of the TV was made before proceeding with subjective tests
When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.
Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using 10% and 100% white window patterns. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.
For the Hisense U8K, I used the Calman ISF workflow, along with the TV’s advanced picture menu settings, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and HBO Max.
Most people know Roku for its streaming boxes and sticks – like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K – as well as the company’s smart interface, which can be found in TVs from brands like TCL, Hisense and others. Back in March of 2023, the company also started selling its own Roku-branded TVs, and as with its streamers, they are priced at a level that most people can afford.
There are two lines of Roku TVs: the Plus Series and the Select Series. Both are inexpensive compared to other sets, but the Plus Series is more feature-packed and consequently priced a bit higher. I was sent a 65-inch Plus model to review, and as a longtime Roku user, I was very curious to see how this $649 set would stack up against other 4K TVs I’ve recently tested.
Along with the company’s own smart TV interface, Plus Series TVs feature AirPlay for wireless streaming from devices and work with Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also conduct hands-free voice searches using the remote control’s built-in mic by first saying “Hey Roku” or by pressing a button on the remote and speaking your search directly.
Plus Series TVs use a QLED display panel with a full-array local dimming backlight, and there’s support for Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range. The 65-inch model I tested doesn’t offer nearly the same peak brightness as QLED TVs with a mini-LED backlight, but it has a local dimming feature that's effective enough to deliver images with strong contrast.
All new Roku TVs have a native 60Hz refresh rate. And while we normally recommend 120Hz 4K TVs for gaming, the Plus Series had an impressive 11.5 ms measured input lag when its Game mode was enabled.
The design of Plus Series sets are basic though, and they come with side-mounted support feet that can’t be height-adjusted. Inputs include 4 HDMI 2.0 ports (1 with eARC) along with an RF connection for an antenna and an optical digital audio output.
Audio on the Plus Series is also basic, with the TV sporting two bottom-mounted speakers. And while the sound is perfectly satisfactory given the TV’s price, the company offers several inexpensive options to enhance audio quality, including a 2-channel soundbar that connects wirelessly with the TV, and wireless surround sound and subwoofer speakers.
Between the company’s own The Roku Channel and a Live TV portal with an enormous amount of free streaming channels that can be browsed in a grid format with TV broadcasts pulled in by antenna, there’s plenty available to watch here, much of it free. Even so, the Roku smart TV interface provides almost every streaming service app you could possibly want, and it also supports personal photo streaming, with an option to add pictures directly from your phone.
Roku Plus Series TV review: price and release date
Release date: March, 2023
The Plus Series models are the step-up offerings in the Roku TV lineup. They are available in 55-, 65-, and 75-screen sizes, and are only sold in the US at Best Buy stores and online.
Pricing for the Roku Plus Series TVs is in the same approximate range as budget models from Hisense, TCL, and Amazon Fire TVs, all of which also feature QLED screen tech, and in some instances a local dimming backlight similar to Roku Plus series models.
Roku Plus Series TV review: Specs
Roku Plus Series TV review: features
Roku smart TV interface and voice remote
Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range
Four HDMI inputs, one with enhanced audio return channel (eARC)
Roku Plus Series TVs feature the company’s popular smart TV interface, which is easy to navigate compared to other options. It provides an extensive amount of streaming apps to select from, and includes The Roku Channel and the Live TV portal for streaming free ad-supported TV shows and movies. Live TV also lets you integrate TV channels tuned by an indoor TV antenna.
Plus Series TVs support AirPlay for wireless streaming from iPhones and iPads, and they also work with Alexa and Google Assisant. They include voice remote pro features, a rechargeable battery and it has a built-in mic that allows for hands-free voice searches (the built-in mic can also be easily disabled using a switch located on the remote).
A QLED display panel with a native 60Hz refresh rate is used for the Plus series, and there’s a full-array local dimming backlight for enhanced contrast. High dynamic range support includes Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG. A Game mode is also provided that reduces input lag when gaming with a connected console.
The set’s four HDMI inputs include one that supports HDMI eARC for a soundbar connection, and there’s an optical digital audio output and an RF input to connect an antenna. When viewing TV broadcasts, you can pause and rewind live TV for up to 90 minutes when a 16GB USB flash drive is plugged into the set’s USB port. Roku TVs also support a wireless audio connection to the company’s Roku Smart soundbar.
Roku’s features package for its Plus Series is fairly basic overall compared to other TVs, but it includes a solid array of video performance basics such as a QLED display panel and full array local dimming backlight.
Features Score: 3.5/5
Roku Plus Series TV review: picture quality
Deep blacks with detailed shadows
Some screen reflections
The 65-inch Roku Plus Series TV I tested delivered an average brightness level for a QLED TV, with peak brightness topping out at 556 nits (measured on a 10% white window test pattern) in its Standard HDR picture mode, and 533 nits in Dark HDR mode. To put those numbers into perspective, the TCL 6-series TV, a model with a mini-LED backlight, can hit 1,326 nits peak brightness, while the LG C3 OLED TV tops out at 830 nits.
A full-array local dimming backlight on the Plus Series enabled it to display deep blacks, though it didn’t hit the 0 IRE full black that OLED TVs and the best mini-LED models are capable of, with maximum contrast measuring 20,500:1. Even so, blacks looked strikingly deep in most movie clips I watched, and backlight 'blooming' artifacts were surprisingly minimal given the set’s low price. For most of my testing I kept the Micro Contrast setting at High, which delivered the best black depth and shadow detail.
The color balance in the Movie picture mode’s default Warm color temperature setting was slightly blue-ish, with most Delta E values measuring in the 3-4 range (we typically look for these to dip below 3). Measurements made with Portrait’s Calman display calibration software also showed coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) to be 95.8%, and BT.2020 to be 81.3%. These are very good results, and closely match what was measured on the TCL 6-Series TV.
Roku’s Plus Series set had a fair amount of screen reflectivity, with reflections visible when viewing in a room with bright overhead lights. Picture contrast and color saturation also weren’t as solid when viewing from off-center seats, though that effect is common with LCD-based TVs like the Plus Series.
I watched several scenes from 4K Blu-ray discs that I typically use for testing on the Roku Plus Series, starting out with the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark (the just-released new version). Viewing the 4,000 nits version of the montage sequence, some clipping artifacts were visible with the set’s Dynamic Tone Mapping setting active, though the issue disappeared when I watched a version graded at 1,000 nits – a more typical peak brightness for programs with HDR. Otherwise, images in the montage looked clean, crisp and had rich color, though the strongest highlights lacked some of the visual punch I’ve seen when watching the same material on brighter TVs.
Next up was No Time to Die, the James Bond film from 2021. Shadows looked deep and solid in the early scenes where Bond and Madeleine arrive in Italy, and in a later one where 007 walks across a craggy hill toward the resting place of Vesper Lynd with the camera panning along, the motion was smooth with almost no blurring artifacts.
Dune also looked very good on the Roku TV, with the set’s processor managing to deliver a detailed and noise-free picture even in difficult scenes like one where Paul walks through a dark and misty environment with Lady Jessica following an interrogation by the Reverend Mother. I’ve seen other, much more expensive TVs trip up on this sequence, which made the Roku’s handling of it all the more impressive.
With Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse now out in theaters, it seemed appropriate to give 2018’s Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse a spin on the Roku Plus TV. This film has an incredible range of color, and images are enlivened with finely detailed textures throughout that give it a printed comic book look. The Roku conveyed all of it in a convincing manner, with images looking impressively dynamic for such an affordable TV.
Picture quality score: 4/5
Roku Plus Series TV review: sound quality
Two downfiring speakers
Average TV sound quality
Can make a wireless soundbar connection
Roku Plus Series use two down-firing speakers and the sound quality is average – you can easily hear dialogue and there’s a good overall balance, but otherwise dynamic movie soundtracks tend to flatten out during loud scenes.
Roku sells a two-channel Roku TV wireless soundbar ($150), which is designed specifically for its TVs and can be connected wirelessly (surround speakers and a subwoofer can also be added for a wireless 4.1-channel setup). Roku sent me its wireless soundbar to try out, and setting it up was incredibly easy. Configuration and control of the soundbar is carried out using the voice remote pro, with sound presets selectable via the TV’s menus.
Of the various presets, the Standard mode proved to be the best for most viewing, and with it selected dialogue gained weight and body while soundtrack elements like music and effects came across with greater clarity and dynamic presence. Given the TV’s low price, this is definitely a situation where you should consider a soundbar, and while there are plenty of great choices on our best soundbars list, the Roku TV wireless soundbar is a perfect match for this TV.
Sound quality score: 3.5/5
Roku Plus Series TV review: design
Side-mounted, non-adjustable support feet
Roku voice pro remote with built-in mic
The design of Plus Series TVs is fairly basic, with a thin bezel surrounding the screen’s edges and a thicker bezel at the bottom with a protruding compartment with an IR receiver and multipurpose control button under the Roku logo. Side-mounted feet provide sturdy support, though both their height and horizontal spread can’t be adjusted.
Two of the TV’s HDMI ports are located on an input panel accessible from the side, while the other two are on the panel’s bottom along with the antenna, USB, and Ethernet ports. There’s also a composite-video and RCA-type analog stereo audio input here that lets you connect legacy sources such as a VCR or vintage game console. The bottom HDMI ports were somewhat difficult to access, and could potentially be a challenge when using a stiff cable to connect sources.
The built-in battery of Roku’s compact voice pro remote control can be recharged by connecting it to the TV’s USB port. It has a built-in mic that can either be always on or disabled using a switch located on the remote’s side. The benefit to having the mic always on is that you can do hands-free voice searches by saying “Hey Roku” followed by a request. You can also momentarily activate the mic for searches by pressing the mic button at the remote’s center. Four quick buttons let you instantly access the Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Netflix and Max streaming services, and there are two numbered “shortcut” buttons that can be configured for a range of uses.
Design score: 3.5/5
Roku Plus Series TV review: smart TV & menus
Roku TV interface
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Picture adjustments hard to access
Roku’s well-known and well-regarded smart TV interface is one I’m familiar with having spent many years as a Roku owner before making the leap to an Apple TV 4K. It’s a great interface for browsing apps, mainly because everything is right up front and accessible, and it’s easy to add or delete apps.
The Roku Live TV portal is a good way to supplement any streaming services you subscribe to. It offers an abundance of free channels organized in a time-based grid, and you can add broadcast TV channels tuned by an antenna to expand your free TV menu. With so many channels to choose from, it’s a good idea to edit the grid down to a more manageable size – something that the Favorites feature easily lets you do.
The Roku Photo Streams app has received recent enhancements that let you upload images directly from a phone to for viewing on the TV. You can also now edit streams and set screensavers, and the app now supports up to 1,000 images. When it comes to displaying personal photo libraries, the Roku Plus series is no Apple TV 4K, which provides tight integration with that company’s Photos app. Even so, most viewers will find Photo Streams to be sufficient for their needs.
Picture adjustments are carried out by pressing the remote’s asterisk button, which calls up the onscreen setup menus. You can adjust picture settings separately for regular and HDR sources, and those custom settings can also be applied across all of the TV’s inputs. Getting to basic adjustments like Brightness, Contrast and Color can take a lot of button presses, which is something that I found annoying during my time testing the TV's performance.
Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5
Roku Plus Series TV review: gaming
No cloud gaming apps
Low 11.5 ms input lag
Auto Game Mode
With a native 60Hz refresh rate, the Roku Plus isn’t designed to be a powerhouse gaming TV. There’s also no gaming portal with subscription cloud-based services like you’ll find on Samsung and LG sets, and there’s no support for Bluetooth game controllers.
What Roku Plus TVs do offer gamers is a Game mode that reduces input lag to 11.5ms – an impressive level for a budget TV and one that will satisfy all but competitive gamers. Game mode is automatically enabled when a console input is detected, saving you the trouble of having to turn it on in the TV’s settings menu.
Gaming score: 3/5
Roku Plus Series TV review: value
Very good picture quality for price
Roku interface adds to value
Loads of free (but ad-supported) streaming channels
At just $649, the 65-inch Plus Series TV I tested is a great value. It’s not able to hit the high peak brightness levels some of its budget TV competition manages, particularly models with a mini-LED backlight, and that limitation lessens some of its impact when viewing movies with HDR. But overall, image quality here is very good for the price.
Also adding to the value of Plus Series TVs is the company’s built-in streaming interface, which is clean and easy to navigate and offers pretty much any app you’d want along with a Live TV portal to stream a multitude of free ad-supported channels. You’ll have a tough time not finding something to watch on Roku’s TV, and if you do, you can always use its hands-free voice remote to recommend something.
Value score: 5/5
Should I buy the Roku Plus Series TV?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if…
TCL 6-Series mini-LED TCL’s 6-Series TVs are a fairly substantial price jump over the Roku Plus Series, but you’re getting a big brightness boost for the money. The 6-Series is also a better option for gaming with next-gen gaming features like 4K 120Hz and VRR.
How I tested the Roku Plus Series TV
I spent about 15 hours in total measuring and evaluating
Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests
When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Filmmaker or Movie) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.
Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using 10% and 100% white window patterns. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.
For the Roku Plus Series TV, I used the CalMan ISF workflow, along with the advanced picture menu settings in the Roku control app, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and Max.
Ever wanted to have a massive business monitor for a prospective outside office in the shade of a patio?
The Sylvox 55-inch DeckPro 4K display panel (a fancy name for a TV set) will fit the bill thanks to its relatively affordable price tag (for such a product) and its 1000-nits brightness.
It’s a versatile screen that runs on Android TV and has enough connectors to plug in anything from a laptop, computer and everything in between. It is built like a tank with a down-to-earth, rudimentary design and a simple to operate remote control. It manages to produce colorful, bright, punchy and sharp pictures that it's hard to believe are really coming from a display under an awning.
All in all, a remarkably good, keenly priced all-rounder.
Sylvox DeckPro: Pricing and availability
Sylvox sells its product directly from its website to customers across the globe: the 2023 DeckPro series costs $1,899 on its own, $1,998 with a TV mount, $2,397 with an additional sound bar. This particular model also sells alone for the same price on Amazon. By default you get a free one-year warranty with free shipping. Retailers like Amazon also allow you to buy a protection plan covering the product for multiple years.
A smaller 43-inch model is available as well as a 65- and a 75-inch panel. Don’t confuse the DeckPro with the Deck (which has a lower brightness and runs on Linux) and the Deck Pro QLED (which uses a QLED panel and runs on LG WebOS).
Sylvox DeckPro: Design
The DeckPro is designed for self-installation by the end user but will also appeal to AV installers and companies looking for large format displays that can endure harsher than average conditions (e.g. in humid conditions): think exhibitions, events, outdoor happenings, museums, zoos, gardens etc.
It is however a large item, and will need two people to handle; it’s 1245 x 87 x 726mm high for a weight of almost 23Kg. Sylvox sent the TV in a clever cardboard box that protects the display very well without requiring extra protection (e.g. a wooden crate or reinforced plywood).
Instead of the usual plastic shell found on indoors TV, this one has a full stainless steel coated shell which resists corrosion and scratching; you won’t find the same level of attention to aesthetics you’d find on say, Samsung’s The Frame. The DeckPro is more about getting the basics right even if the end results - like having a thick profile - look industrial: It is designed to work in temperatures between -30 and 50 degrees centigrade which precludes its use in direct sunlight which could heat its components to very high temperatures.
Sylvox has also tested the DeckPro to IP55 standards. So it is protected against dust, debris and water sprays from a nozzle from all directions. That’s not to say that the product is waterproof but it should withstand the occasional drizzle or rain showers. Sylvox mentions that it is designed to “beat the summer heat, the pouring rain, the blizzard cold, the heavy thunderstorms”. We didn’t test that extensively though.
All connectors are downward facing (gravity keeps water out, assuming you’re not using the TV upside down) and located behind a detachable waterproof panel at the back of the TV, secured by 13 screws. Two thick pieces of foam wrap around any connected cable to create a pseudo-waterproof seal. There’s three HDMI ports, an optical out, composite ports, an audio connector, two USB ports and even an Ethernet connector for wired connectivity. There’s also a standard VESA mount at the rear.
Sylvox DeckPro: Features
The DeckPro has a 4K 55-inch panel that can reach 1000 nits brightness, making it a great choice for viewing content outside (even if Sylvox pitches it as a TV for partial sun exposure). A 2000-nits model, aptly named Pool series, can endure a full sun exposure.
That said, while brightness does matter, it’s fair to say that it’s not all about the numbers: higher is not always better and the immediate environment and location matters just as much, if not more.
Sylvox uses Google’s Android TV and offers both Chromecast and Google Assistant (via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) with full access to Google Play. Speaking of Wi-Fi, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that it is compatible with 5GHz networks which means faster speeds and wider coverage, great if, for example, you’re planning to use the panel far away on an exhibition floor.
Other than the mere annoyance of having to deal with a dozen or so screws for the protective panel, the DeckPro was a doddle to set up. There’s a single remote control: the more expensive QLED full sun version offers an extra one with a nifty scrolling wheel and an ergonomic body.
Setting up Android TV was also straightforward, and we were up and running in minutes. Surprisingly enough, we couldn’t find the UK in the list of available territories. Sylvox told us they were investigating.
Given its brightness, the DeckPro 4K performed admirably under a patio with excellent picture quality, a rich black level response, plenty of sharpness and superb color reproduction, albeit slightly saturated out of the box which is understandable given the target audience. Display settings can be easily adjusted using the remote control and there’s a plethora of options to finetune the screen to one’s expectations.
A word on the sound capabilities: there’s plenty of fans inside the TV to take care of the heat, both produced internally by the components and externally by, well, the sun. They can be slightly distracting but they’re there for a reason. A pair of powerful 10W speakers deliver some punchy, well balanced audio in our very subjective testing. Listening to audio outside a controlled environment makes attempts to come up with anything rigorous a tad trivial.
How do we test display panels?
Outdoor display panels are different from traditional models so while we do look at the overall quality of the display output, connectivity options and pricing, the build quality and features that make it a proper outdoor display are objectively more important. For business users, we also look at after sales and support.
Should I buy the Sylvox DeckPro?
Don’t buy if...
The Samsung Terrace:
The first outdoor TV to come from the world’s biggest TV maker, and it’s pretty notable for that reason. Samsung uses its award winning QLED technology for the picture to deliver 2,000 nits of brightness. It is twice as expensive as the Sylvox but comes with a five year warranty.
Another popular outdoor TV vendor, Sunbrite’s Veranda is available in sizes up to 75-inch and can often be found at a discount from popular retailers. It has a lower brightness making it great for shaded spaces but will struggle in brighter areas. Do not confuse this with the far superior but more expensive Veranda Series 3.
Continuing the coverage of new Xiaomi products that were announced today brings us to the Xiaomi Band 8, Sound Move speaker and the new 86-inch mini-LED smart TV.
Xiaomi Band 8
The eighth iteration in the Xiaomi Band series brings retains the 1.62 inches AMOLED pill-shaped screen of its predecessor with 490x192px resolution a 60Hz refresh rate. Band 8 also brings Always on Display support and a 600 nits peak brightness compared to 500 nits on Band 7.
Xiaomi Band 8
Band 8 comes with plenty of official strap options from Xiaomi including all sorts of materials such as leather,...
Gigabyte has a solid track record in putting out pretty outstanding gaming laptops that deliver good performance for the asking price. They’re durable and simplistically designed, and despite being a little loud or a little heavy, they’re usually worth top marks - like the Gigabyte Aorus 17, which racked up a respectable 4 stars. Even in their non-gaming laptops they usually pack a powerful punch, like the 2021 Aero 17 model, which hit home with 5 stars and an abundance of praise for being the creative professional's dream. So, naturally, we had very high expectations for the Gigabyte G5.
This expectation was, predictably, met and at times surpassed by the Gigabyte G5 and we couldn’t reasonably ask for more from a gaming laptop with a sensible price tag like this one. After spending some time with this laptop we can definitely see it hanging with the best gaming laptops and holding its own.
The model we tested had an Intel Core i5-10500H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card which places the laptop as a midrange entry in relation to other gaming laptops. There are many different (some more powerful) versions of the G5, some with newer RTX 4000-series GPUs from Nvidia, but to be quite honest even if you’re running a bunch of AAA titles at max settings you’re unlikely to need much more internal power, since this one performed really well in our benchmarks and the G5 only packs a 1080p display - so there’s no need to shoot for higher resolutions.
The laptop comes with a stunning 1080p 15.6-inch display with anti-glare technology and a thin bezel. Colors come to life and maintain a rather striking brilliance on the screen that never dulls. You can see this very clearly with games like Cyberpunk 2077 or even when you’re watching films or Youtube videos.
I popped on an episode of Bojack (Horseman, obviously) and it really felt like I was watching the show on a cute and compact TV rather than a little laptop screen. 15.6 inches doesn't sound like a lot on paper but it arguably looks a lot bigger than it is, so don’t be too worried if screen real estate is a big concern for you.
Aside from the sound benchmark scores and pretty face, the Gigabyte G5 is just a really nice bit of hardware. It has some weight to it, but not as much as you would expect for a gaming laptop; I threw it in my backpack on multiple occasions and it didn’t drag me down or make itself consistently known, never screaming ‘I’m here! And heavy! And fragile! Good luck to your shoulders!’
Gigabyte G5 review: Price and availability
Starts at $1,099.99 / £1,293.49 / AU$2,349
UK version tested costs £1,800
Massive variety of configurations
The Gigabyte G5 RTX 3060 configuration starts at $899.99 in the US which is pretty decent for the specifications you’re getting and the package those specs come in. The RTX 4060 version costs $1,099, but in the US you can only get this version with 8GB of RAM, and not the 16GB of RAM you can get in the UK with an RTX 4060. As standard, we'd advise that any gaming laptop should have 16GB of RAM as the baseline.
As I said, I don’t think there are many cases for upgrading to the more expensive configuration unless you are looking to fully ‘future-proof’ your investment. The RTX 3060 graphics card is perfectly sufficient to be able to play just about any game at 1080p right now, but if you’re worried about things getting ahead of you, it’s worth considering moving up if you have the cash to spare. If not, our version is perfectly fine.
In the UK our review model costs £899.99 (AU$1,499) which is basically dead on with the US pricing, and is still a pretty decent asking price for what you get. The models are the same across the US and UK barring that one caveat we mentioned above, though again, we can’t really justify dropping that extra cash when the cheaper model is still really impressive.
The Gigabyte G5 has a good chance of gracing our best cheap laptops list for sure, as it offers strong performance and a lot of dazzling features for the asking price.
Price score: 4/5
Gigabyte G5 review: Specs
The Gigabyte G5 comes in two variations. The model we tested comes with the RTX 3060 graphics card, and the other configuration comes with RTX 4060.
In terms of CPUs, it can come with ever an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor - ours uses the i5 version. The RAM and SSD capacity varies between the two models. You can check out the specs of our version below:
Gigabyte G5 review: Design
Ports on the rear edge of laptop
Pretty lightweight for gaming laptop
The design of the Gigabyte G5 is pretty bog-standard in terms of aesthetics; nothing specific or unique to write home about, but I don’t actually mind that. It’s still a very handsome laptop and the classic chassis design is a breath of fresh air from other gaming laptops that try a little too hard to scream ‘gaming’ as loud as possible.
It isn’t riddled with flashy RGB that demands attention and maintains a very classy appearance. There’s slightly blue-tinted LED backlighting for the keyboard and if you’re like me (read: not a fan of excessive RGB), that is enough.
The G5 is super portable, so much so that I forgot about the laptop being in my backpack at times - not just because of the lightness, but because the build is very durable. I’ve accidentally dropped my bag with the G5 inside on the office floor and been knocked around on public transport, but I never felt worried because this thing is very robust.
Despite its sturdy build quality, it’s definitely one of the more portable 15-inch gaming laptops I’ve reviewed, so if you’re after a machine you can take with you on adventures, this is it. Like most of the best laptops, the physical appearance of the laptop is sleek, and slightly futuristic and doesn't go too crazy with RGB lighting that offends the eyes.
Some of the USB ports and the headphone jack are on the side of the laptop with more of the physical ports along the back edge. However you feel about port positioning, we must admit that rear ports can be super convenient if you’re planning to plonk the laptop down on your desk and never move it, letting you keep your workspace free of cable clutter. Though with how easy this is to carry around it may be a little inconvenient if you want to plug in a USB mouse or a flash drive.
You get an adequate amount of ports and a somewhat unusual keyboard layout. Personally, as someone with smaller hands, I found the keys to be a little too spaced out for me when typing on the keyboard, but it felt fine when playing games with it. I asked someone with larger hands to give it a go and they felt the keyboard was well spaced out and rather comfortable, so be warned smaller hand gang! Do some finger stretches before you start writing that novel on the Gigabyte G5.
Design score: 4/5
Gigabyte G5 review: Performance
1080p is ideal for most games
Might be weaker on CPU-heavy tasks
Relatively quiet when gaming
Here's how the Gigabye G5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Night Raid: 38,189; Fire Strike: 17,723; Time Spy: 7,572 Cinebench R20 multi-core: 2,660 GeekBench 5: 1,205 (single-core); 6,345 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Modern Office): 5,694 PCMark 10 (Battery life test): 3 hours and 51 minutes TechRadar Battery Life Test: 4 hours and 1 minute Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 63 fps; (1080p, Low): 173 fps Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 68 fps; (1080p, Low): 91fps Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 69fps; (1080p, Low): 137 fps
All things considered, the performance of the Gigabyte G5 is pretty hard to beat at this price point. The RTX 3060 is a decent affordable graphics card and while it may not delight you with 4K gaming, it’ll deliver excellent performance at 1080p with the best PC games. You can play the most demanding games without dropping to abysmal framerates.
The FHD display does a great job, and you'll definitely appreciate its stunning clarity when you’re gaming, watching a film, or scrolling through photos.
The Intel Core i5 processor at the heart of the gaming laptop is pretty standard - as you may have noticed, it's an older 10th-gen Intel chip that doesn't have the fancy split core architecture of those newer 12th and 13th generation processors, but it's not so old that it'll cause any noticeable performance bottlenecking - you can do most basic CPU-bound tasks without causing the laptop to stutter. However, CPU-intensive workloads like real-time strategy games may struggle to run on the Gigabyte G5.
From the decidedly average scores in benchmarks like Cinebench R20 and GeekBench 5, you probably won’t be able to run a lot of heavy workloads like video editing or 3D animation but it should be able to handle some lower-level creative work. You can dabble in a little music creation or some very basic home video editing, but that might be where the bar lies.
The fan design within the Gigabyte G5 is emphasized quite a bit by Gigabyte and rightly so: the laptop doesn’t have a nuclear meltdown when playing games for extended periods of time, and when the fans do kick in they’re relatively quiet for a gaming laptop. The laptop does get a little warm but never uncomfortably hot to the touch. The cooling technology comprises two gigantic fans and four heat pipes all vented out through the three exhaust slots.
Performance score: 4/5
Gigabyte G5 review: Battery life
Lasts about 4 hours
A little disappointing for a gaming session
Pretty quick charge
If you're planning to take the laptop around with you and game on the go, the four hours the Gigabyte G5 lasted in our battery life benchmark doesn't really feel like a lot. The power brick is not that heavy, but it's inconvenient to carry both the laptop and the brick in a backpack.
So the battery life is not great, but fairly middle-of-the-road for a gaming laptop. When playing triple-A games on the G5, you're not likely to get more than two hours of use without plugging it in - less if you're got a bunch of wired peripherals connected. Keep in mind that if you don't plan to keep the laptop on your desk and move around with it, you'll be searching for wall sockets a lot.
Battery life: 3/5
Should you buy the Gigabyte G5?
Buy it if...
You want to game on the go
As we've said, the Gigabyte G5 is incredibly portable. You can whack this bad boy into any backpack and roam (and shoulder strength) for more.
You plan to use the laptop as a mini TV
With the clarity and vividness of the display any game gets a breath of new life on the Gigabyte G5, it would be a shame to relegate it to just gaming. Any movie or TV show streaming from the laptop would defiantly shine on this device.
Don't buy it if...
You're planning on doing anything creative
If you're planning on doing some serious video editing, 3D modeling, or animation work, the older CPU means this may not be the laptop for you.
You want an office laptop There are loads of laptops that double as gaming laptops, and if you're doing very basic admin you might get away with it on the G5 - but ultimately, this is a gaming laptop and should really be kept that way.
Gigabyte G5 review: Also consider
If our Gigabyte G5 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider...
How I tested the Gigabyte G5
Played games in the evening
Did some light work during the day
Took with me between work and home
As with most of my gaming laptop reviews, I tried to swap the Gigabyte G5 into my daily life and place myself into the vibe of a potential user. I used it for both work and play and really got to know the product.
I did regular tasks like writing emails, basic web surfing, and some long-form writing. In the evening I played the Sims 4 on it and a little bit of Cyberpunk 2077 too.
Most of the general-use testing I did was with the laptop running on battery power, leaving it to charge to full power before using it till it died to get a better sense of what it would be like relying on the battery when carrying it around. Naturally, our benchmarking tests were conducted with the laptop plugged in for maximum performance.
1More is an audio tech brand that hasn’t produced devices on a par with big names such as Sony, Bose or even JBL – at least not yet. But over the past few years it has been releasing both over-ear headphones and true wireless earbuds that have held their own in a crowded market, including the 1More Evo, 1More Sonoflow and 1More ComfoBuds Mini. So how do the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds compare?
The good news is that the 1More Aero true wireless earbuds are the definite step up from 2022’s 1More ComfoBuds Pro that 1More claims they are. They’re solid all-rounders that offer an impressive set of features for their price. I enjoyed the good overall sound quality on offer, ANC works well and battery life is… fine. I also liked the fit and the tapered stem design that 1More first debuted with the ComfoBuds Pro – although that’s down to personal preference.
However, there are many true wireless earbuds to choose from these days, from the best true wireless earbuds your money can buy through to the best budget wireless earbuds for those who want a cheaper alternative. So what sets the 1More Aero apart from the rest? The answer is spatial audio, which makes it seem as if you’re hearing sound from all around you in a three-dimensional space – and crucially here, it even alters you turn your head from the source device.
There’s a lot to love about the 1More Aero buds, but spatial audio for around $100/£100 is the main selling point here. But although I certainly enjoyed listening to my favorite tracks with spatial audio switched on, does everyone really need spatial audio? Read on to find out more in this 1More Aero review.
1More Aero review: Price & release date
Cost $109.99/£99.99/around AU$182
Released in October 2022
The 1More Aero true wireless earbuds were released in October 2022 and cost $109.99/£99.99/around AU$182. Hovering around the $100/£100 mark makes the 1More Aero a similar price compared to rivals and they just qualify for TechRadar's best budget earbuds category. However, the competition is pretty fierce at this level.
The most obvious competition comes from the Earfun Air Pro 3. TechRadar also described these buds as good all-rounders and they cost $99/£99 at launch – although you can find them a little cheaper now. The Air Pro 3 buds offer a similar sound and ANC experience, as well as a significantly longer battery life, but you won’t get spatial audio.
To get the spatial audio feature you’ll find in the 1More Aero, instead you’d need to spend significantly more for alternatives, like the LG Tone Free T90Q ($229.99 / £199.98) and Sony WF-1000XM4s ($279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95). More on whether the 1More Aero buds perform at the levels of these higher-end options soon…
1More Aero review: Specs
1More Aero review: Features
Head-tracked spatial audio is the star of the show
ANC works well
Smart Loudness tech is handy
Before I even put the 1More Aero to the test, I was impressed with the range of features on offer here, many of which can be tweaked within the 1More app, which I found clear and easy to use.
The first noteworthy feature is ANC. During my testing, I found noise cancelling to be generally impressive. There are four levels of ANC to choose from, but I opted for the highest level ‘Strong’ the most often. Because why put ANC on if you’re not going to put it ON, right? Although if you work in an office and need varying levels, the choice might be handy for you.
ANC was effective, drowning out conversations in a coffee shop completely. Difficult, higher-pitched sounds, like an alarm and toddler screaming, were muffled but still audible. And deep rumbling sounds, like a train and a fan, were still detectable a little, but everything was significantly dulled. If you’re looking for buds to simply lessen the chatter at work, these will do nicely. There’s also a transparency mode, which is handy for conversations, but I found it easier to just pop one of the buds out instead of faffing with my phone.
Something I haven’t seen before is a Smart Loudness feature, which you can switch on and off and then use a slider to amp up. This is to keep the bass, mids and trebles detectable at low volumes, but it was hit-and-miss. If you listen to music at lower volumes it’s worth turning on, especially to reintroduce bass, but it wasn’t a feature that wowed me.
You can control the buds via touch controls on the stems and you can customize what these do via the app – although there’s no option to decline a call. These controls worked well most of the time, but sometimes weren’t as responsive and sensitive as I'd have liked. I found myself getting my phone out to make adjustments instead.
Within the app (oddly, under 'Experimental Features') there’s the option to switch on multipoint pairing, allowing you to move between audio input devices. Although there was a slight lag as I switched between a phone and a laptop, it did work and it’s a feature that’s incredibly handy – especially when working on my laptop, then taking a voice call on my phone, then moving back to the laptop to listen to music or join yet another video call.
In terms of battery life, you’ll get 7 hours from the buds with ANC off and 5 hours with ANC on. I found these estimates from 1More to be bang on during my testing. You can get 28 hours in total from the case and buds combined, with ANC off. That’s a decent amount of battery life, but can be bested by similar-priced rivals, like the EarFun Air Pro 3 that gives you 9 hours from the buds and 36 hours from the case with ANC off. Or the JBL Live Pro 2 buds, which offer 40 hours of listening time in total. And TechRadar's pick of the bunch here is the far cheaper Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, which will bag you 35 hours in High Performance mode, or 45 in Low Power mode…
Features score: 5/5
1More Aero review: Sound quality
ANC isn’t great but it’s good enough
Spatial audio is fun – especially for TV, movies and games
Overall, I found the 1More Aero buds an enjoyable listen. I felt that way across the genres too – noting a really nice balance, with crisp highs and crystal clear vocals, underpinned by more than enough bassline rumble underneath when it was needed.
There was a real smoothness and warmth to some of my favorite tracks, too, like Tango by Onyx Collective. When I listened to big, classical tracks, like Johann Johannsson’s score for Arrival, I occasionally yearned for a wider, more expansive listen, which I've experienced with other buds at the level (see the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro). But I was impressed with the power and bass these little buds delivered through their solid low end, handling such epic and eerie instrumental tracks well.
You can tweak the sound, too. Within the 1More app there’s an equalizer you can manually adjust, as well as a bunch of EQ presets, including Studio and Classical. I enjoyed testing some of these and recommend you do the same, although some seemed a bit heavy-handed. Case in point: Bass Booster with Latto x Mariah Carey’s Big Energy made the bassline sound, well… a bit silly, like I was listening to a boomy sample track on a keyboard. The same goes for Vocal Booster, and Pop, which was very tinny. Then again, putting Bass Booster on for the Arrival soundtrack actually added to the drama. The lesson here is, you’ll need to play around with the settings to see what suits you – and you might need to do that each time you switch genres.
On the subject of settings, switch spatial audio on and you’re in for a 360-degree sound treat. I mostly felt as if positional audio was accurate, so sounds came from a central stage or instruments around me. There’s head tracking here too, which essentially means that as well as feeling like sound is all around you, to some extent, you’re moving around it too.
I probably enjoyed spatial audio the most when watching TV shows and movies. For example, I watched The Mandalorian with the 1More Aeros and replayed a scene when the Razor Crest landed with and without spatial audio. It was subtle, but definitely created more of a cinematic, stereo sound feel than I'm used to.
Back to music, putting on spatial audio halfway through De La Soul’s Supa Emcees and selecting the Hip-Hop EQ preset was a pleasing upgrade. The track came alive more than ever. It might sound a bit cheesy, but it genuinely felt like I’d gone from listening to a track positioned directly in front of me to hearing it performed on a stage above me – exactly what you want from spatial audio.
I felt the same about pop music. Miley Cyrus’ Flowers was noticeably elevated with spatial audio switched on. I then chose the Deep preset for added bass and Studio for a more neutral listen. The energy of this track was simply phenomenal. The best earbuds can help you notice things about your favorite tracks you haven’t before.
Having said that, not all music was as sparkly and elevated with spatial audio – even tracks optimized for it – and I did prefer the spatial audio experience with other buds, like the LG Tone Free T90Q, as they provided a more consistent and convincing sound. Then again, that was for almost double the price.
I did wonder whether the wow factor of spatial audio had already faded. This might be because, other than the EQ settings, you can’t change anything else about how spatial audio or head tracking works, which it would have been nice to adjust. Then again, this is an affordable application of spatial audio, so I really am being picky.
Sound quality score: 4/5
1More Aero review: Design
Light at 4.9g per bud
They stay put
Like a lot of true wireless earbuds on the market at the moment, the 1More Aero buds have a stem-like design. At first glance they may look very similar to other buds, like the Apple AirPods Pro, but they’re a little different in that they’re teardrop-shaped with tapered ends. I like this small design quirk when other brands are just copying and pasting the AirPods design, but appreciate they may not be for everyone.
The buds are light at 4.9g each, which makes them easy to wear for long periods. In fact, I had no trouble keeping them in for most of the working day and you have S, M, L and XL tips to choose from to find the perfect fit. The silicone tips I selected created a decent seal. They came a little loose when I wore them for more than 30 minutes, and I did knock the stems a couple of times, but this experience was no different to all of the other true wireless earbuds I’ve tested.
There’s an IPX5 rating here, which means these buds are not fully waterproof but are certainly sweat-proof and rain-proof, which makes them a good option if you’re looking for a pair of workout buds. Although they did budge enough for me to keep securing them during a jog and when I was trying to perfect my downward-facing dog, although not enough to fall out.
The buds come with a charging case that’s small enough to slide into a pocket and weighs 45.2g. It has a clamshell-style design which I personally prefer to the pill-shaped box that seems to have become standard from rival brands. My only criticism of the case is the magnets that keep the buds in place could have been a bit stronger, they felt weak compared to similar devices I've tested.
Design score: 4/5
1More Aero review: Value
Cheaper buds offer improvements in some areas
You’d have to pay much more for spatial audio
As a whole package, the 1More Aero buds are good value. They offer everything most people need from a pair of buds, including good audio and ANC, decent battery life and a comfortable fit. However, in some areas other buds shine. For example, if you want a longer battery life or a bump in ANC, there are better alternatives at a similar price – look to the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro or JBL Live Pro 2 for starters.
That said, if you want that top-tier spatial audio feature, you’d have to pay significantly more. So in that respect, they’re great value. The question you need to ask yourself is: do you really need head-tracked spatial audio? It’s fun at first, and certainly improves the experience of TV shows and movies, but I'm not convinced it’s a must-have for everyone.
So are the 1More Aero good value? That entirely depends on what you’re looking for.
Value score: 4/5
Should I buy the 1More Aero?
Buy them if...
Don't buy them if...
1More Aero review: Also consider
How I tested the 1More Aero
Tested for 7 days
Used working at a coffee shop, while working out at home and on a few bus and train journeys
Mostly tested with Apple Music and iPhone 13 Pro
To test the 1More Aero buds, I took them with them everywhere over the course of a week. They came with me while working at a coffee shop, on long walks through a town, on the bus and train to meetings and kept me occupied during workouts, too.
I’m always keen to see how true wireless buds fare over long periods, so I can really test their comfort levels and make sure the battery claims are accurate. So I kept them in for hours on end, while going from working to walking to working out.
I mostly used the buds to listen to a range of playlists on Apple Music, but also used them to listen to audiobooks, stream podcasts and watch a few TV shows – a good chance to see how spatial audio compares with different types of sound.
I’ve been testing audio products and wearable devices for around ten years now. I like to focus on how comfortable tech is and how easy it is to use.
OnePlus rounded off its busiest event yet with its first (mechanical) keyboard, and its latest TV, and both are coming to the Indian market later this year.
Let's start with the former. The OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro is the first device in the OnePlus Featuring brand, a new "co-creation platform", which in this case pairs OnePlus with popular keyboard maker Keychron.
The OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro is very similar to the Keychron Q1 Pro mechanical keyboard. It comes with, you guessed it, 81 keys, and a US layout. There's built-in RGB, while the casing is CNC-machined...
The PS5 has some high expectations to meet when it launched, especially following the success of the PS4, but we can safely say that Sony's current-gen console has massively exceeded every standard set by its predecessor. There's a huge amount to discuss when showcasing what makes it so impressive, which includes everything that comes with it rather than exclusively the console.
The DualSense controller is nothing short of a revelation with its haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. It's a phenomenally clever bit of tech that, in itself, is a selling point for the console. Sony has also since released an upgraded version, named the DualSense Edge, which is equally as impressive as its counterpart.
With the combination of a fresh UI, rapid SSD-fuelled load times, immersive 3D audio, and incredibly powerful hardware, the PS5 takes some generational strides over the PS4. For these reasons and more, once you've started playing the PS5, it's hard to stop.
But there's no avoiding that the console itself is an eyesore, largely due to its wing-like faceplates and bulky size. The plus side to this is that the PS5's gargantuan size ensures that it's quiet and runs suitably cool. You can still place the console vertically or horizontally, though we really wish it didn't need a stand when on its side. More importantly, we haven't experienced any major hardware issues since launch, like hard crashes or storage corruption.
One area where the PS5 has been slow on the uptake is support for the best 120Hz TVs with HDMI 2.1. However, the games that support 120fps is steadily growing, including first and third-party hits like Horizon Forbidden West, Fortnite and Ghostwire Tokyo.
Equally fantastic is the addition of VRR support to PS5. VRR (or variable refresh rate) keeps the action running smooth on compatible TVs. With PS5 VRR enabled, the console is able to maintain high framerates, without screen tearing, and with little to no hits to overall performance. It's an awesome feature we're very happy to see on PS5.
However, you won't need a top-shelf TV to feel the benefits of the PS5’s substantial horsepower. You can still enjoy unbelievably fast load times, significantly better performance, and a greater level of visual fidelity in new and older games alike.
From a simpler setup to a well-thought-out user interface, Sony has also re-imagined the key parts of the user experience with some pleasing extras to boot: PS Plus Essential members can enjoy a curated selection of games straight away, while Plus Extra and Premium can access an additional Game Catalog and Classics Catalog. Backward compatibility also ensures that your old collection of the best PS4 games works on day one.
The end result is a console that we're impressed with, which is ultimately strengthened by the PlayStation 5's compelling line-up of exclusive games that continues to grow.
We'd love to have seen more first-party games at launch (there were only four if you include pack-in game Astro's Playroom). It would also have been wonderful to see further support for previous generations of PlayStation titles, like PS2 and PS3. Still, the PlayStation 5 feels like a solid investment and with a growing library of the best PS5 games, we're confident this experience will only improve with age.
The library of compelling titles has certainly grown since the PS5’s release. Returnal takes full advantage of the console’s feature set, Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 both look stunning on the new-gen hardware, while Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a visual spectacle that needs to be seen to be believed.
PS5 one year on
We've updated our PS5 review to reflect our initial impressions after spending two years with the console. Sony has made a few pleasing changes via system updates, and the quality of its exclusive games continues to impress. There are a few outstanding issues, though. The lack of 1440p support continues to frustrate but we'd still fully recommend picking a PS5 if you can find one.
The PS5 caters to people ready to jump into the new generation of video games, alongside PS4 owners who don’t want to leave their collection of games behind. It's a console that seamlessly bridges the gap between the last generation and the new, so you probably won't need to boot up your PS4 ever again.
There's big upgrades like the super-fast NVMe SSD and powerful GPU that enable higher frame rates and ray tracing. But you'll also appreciate the subtle touches like the built-in microphone on the controller that can serve as a quick stand-in for a headset. The PS5 feels like it was built for ease of use as well as pure power.
The PS5 Digital Edition is exactly the same as the standard PS5 but removes the 4K Blu-Ray drive to offer a cheaper price point at $399 / £389.99 / AU$649.95 and a more symmetrical look. We've pitted the two PS5 consoles against each other in this PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition comparison, so you can determine which one is right for you.
Whichever PS5 model you choose, though, we can wholeheartedly recommend the console as a welcome upgrade over the PS4, and an exciting portal to new-gen gameplay. Read on for our full PS5 review.
Watch our PS5 video review below:
PS5 review: price and release date
PS5 release date: Out now (released on November 12/19, 2020)
PS5 price: $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$799.95
PS5 Digital Edition price: $399.99 / £389.99 / AU$649.95
The PS5 was released in North America, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand on November 12, 2020. It came two days after the release of Microsoft’s new-gen consoles, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. For the rest of the world, the console became available one week later on November 19.
For the PS5’s price, it originally cost $499.99 / £449.99 / AU$749.95 for the standard version of the console with a 4K Blu-ray disc drive. However, if that’s more than you want to spend, there’s also the PS5 Digital Edition, which is exactly the same apart from the fact it removes the disc drive entirely. At launch, that cost $399.99 / £359.99 / AU$599.95, which is a saving of $100 / £90 / AU$150 over the standard model.
The PS5 is more expensive than the launch price of the PS4, PS4 Slim, and PS4 Pro, which both came in at $399.99, but they arrived seven and four years ago respectively now, and you're getting a generational leap in hardware here for $100 more. The PS5 is still expensive, don't get us wrong, but the jump in price does feel warranted for what you’re getting.
However, much like the Oculus Quest 2, we've seen the PS5 get a price hike with Sony blaming this on soaring inflation globally. The US remains unaffected but that's gone up to £479.99 / €549.99 / AU$799.95 for the standard PS5, and £389.99 / €449.99 / $649.95 for the digital PS5.
Sony isn't the only console maker with new hardware on the block, though – you also have to consider the Xbox Series X/S, which is the closest competitor to Sony’s PlayStation 5. Priced at $499 / £449 / $AU749 and $299 /£249 / $AU499 respectively, this makes PS5 more expensive than Microsoft's latest consoles, and Xbox won't follow PlayStation with price hikes. Not yet, anyway.
We’ve delivered our verdict in their respective reviews linked above, so we won't spend much time talking about them here. But if you’re interested in how these two compare, be sure to check out our PS5 vs Xbox Series X breakdown for more details.
PS5 review: design
Huge for a modern gaming console
Space-age aesthetic is polarizing
But the size means more space for air ventilation and a bigger fan
If gaming consoles had weight classes, the PS5 would be in the heavyweight division. We measured it to be around 39 x 10.4 x 26cm (H x W x D) – though the curved surfaces make getting an exact measurement difficult. The PS5 isn’t light, either. It weighs in at 4.5kg, giving it a noticeable heft when you pick it up.
With those measurements in mind, it's easy to see how the PlayStation 5 is the largest console Sony has ever made, and it teeters on the brink of being simply too big for a device that's supposed to sit under your TV. Many will have to rethink their current setup to accommodate Sony's new machine, and that's a problem that no one should have to worry about when picking up a new console.
As for the colors and shape of the console, well, they can be kind of polarizing, too. Some of us on the team absolutely love the PS5 design, while some of us hate the PS5 design. There's no denying, however, that its gargantuan size and two-tone color scheme demands attention in any home. Thankfully, since launch Sony has allowed us to buy new PS5 console covers, coming in five different colors.
One element that's a delightful touch, and universally liked by the TechRadar team, is the system's subtle lighting effect, which creates a soothing hue when the console is in operation or rest mode.
The light strip adds to the PS5's space-age look and feel, and represents a nice touch of continuity from the PS4. Much like the PlayStation 4, when the console is in rest mode the light turns orange, and when the PS5 is turned on it changes from blue to white.
We’re a bit bemused by Sony's choice to put glossy plastic down the center spine of the console, though, particularly as that's where the front USB ports are located. After over a year of use, we can confirm that the plastic can become scratched over time, even though we were extremely careful when plugging in any devices into the front of the console.
We were worried that this might be the case when we first reviewed the PS5, and we’re kind of surprised that Sony didn’t contemplate this happening during development. The glossy finish is also a big dust and fingerprint magnet, which makes the choice all the more bewildering. Thankfully, it's relatively easy to clean your PS5.
Due to its curves and tall stature, it's not just a case of placing the console down and playing once you pull the PS5 out the box. You'll need to wrap your head around the PS5's attachable stand first, which isn’t exactly the most user-friendly experience.
The console can't be placed horizontally without the PS5’s stand, and you risk impeding airflow if you don't use it when the PS5 is standing vertically. It's an extra step that, while necessary, will hopefully be omitted when the inevitable PS5 Slim version arrives in a couple of years as it’s a bit of a faff.
The stand, while functional, feels slightly cheap in the hand too. It has a small compartment to hold one lone screw (don’t lose this, as you'll need it when placing the console vertically) and at first glance, it doesn't look like the setup will actually work when laying the console flat.
To its credit, though, it does the job in a no-thrills fashion – however, we found the stand slipped off the small lip that it clamps onto multiple times when we shifted our unit into position.
In terms of ports, the front of the PlayStation 5 has a USB-A and USB-C port, while the back sports two USB-A ports, a HDMI 2.1 port, an Ethernet port and a power port. There are no proprietary ports on the console, which is always a bonus if you need to replace the odd cable.
PS5 review: performance
Capable of 4K/120fps gameplay as well as support for 8K/60
Faster loading times thanks to new SSD
System runs cool and quiet nearly all the time
When it comes to specs, the PS5 is a technically impressive piece of hardware. There's the new custom RDNA 2 GPU that can push 4K resolution at 120 frames per second, and the octa-core AMD Zen 2-based CPU with a 3.5GHz clock speed.
Throw in 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a 825GB NVMe SSD, and this is a machine with some seriously impressive specs. The PS5 is also capable of outputting 8K resolution, however, we'll need to wait for a firmware update from Sony before it's able to do so.
CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency) GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency) GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2 Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD Usable storage: 667.2GB IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed) Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only) Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
In fact, the only real issue we have with the PlayStation 5's spec sheet is the amount of storage available. It's only using an 825GB SSD instead of, say, a 1TB or 2TB SSD. That decision was clearly made to cut down on the cost of the console, but it means that you can run out of storage quickly if you're not being judicious about which games you keep installed.
The console comes with 667.2GB of usable storage, which we found held around 16 games: two PS5 titles, which were Astro's Playroom and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and various PS4 games like God of War and Detroit: Beyond Human. The available space actually went further than we thought, although your mileage will vary depending on the size of the games you have installed.
It may have taken over eight months after launch, but it's now possible to upgrade the internal storage with an NVMe SSD. You can pop off the PS5's plastic faceplates to reveal the empty SSD bay and secure a compatible M.2 SSD in place using a screwdriver. We've rounded up the best SSD for PS5 and created a detailed guide showing you how to upgrade your PS5 internal SSD storage.
Adding more storage via the SSD bay isn't the most intuitive of methods, and feels like a slight oversight on Sony's part - but hopefully, it's only something you'll need to do once. It’s also handy that you'll at least be adding storage onto the existing 667GB, instead of starting from scratch.
The good news is that you're also able to use external hard drives and SSDs by plugging them into the USB port. You won't experience the same lightning-fast load times that you get from the built-in SSD and optional (not to mention locked) SSD bay. But if you use an external SSD, you'll still see a massive boost to load time performance over a regular mechanical hard drive.
We plugged in an external SSD into one of the PS5's USB ports and the process of getting things set up was effortless. The console detected that an external drive had been connected, and once it was formatted, we were able to store and transfer PS4 games to it. After a PS5 system update in April 2021, you can now also store PS5 games or save data to external storage. However, you’ll need to transfer games back onto the internal drive if you wish to play them.
While few of the launch games really gave the new hardware a run for its money, we can already see the potential in Sony's upgraded hardware. Crucially, more titles designed with PS5 specifically in mind are on the way.
Load times are where most new PS5 users will see a stark difference, to begin with. In Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, for example, load times have gone from 15-20 seconds on the PS4 to less than a second on the PS5, and Demon’s Souls takes literally seconds to load entire, sprawling levels. Returnal is another game that benefits greatly from the PS5’s super-fast SSD, with not a load screen in sight as you traverse countless biomes.
Graphical improvements, particularly when it comes to resolution, are the next immediate highlights when it comes to playing on PS5. Astro's Playroom runs at a rock-solid 60 frames per second at a 4K resolution, and almost every title we’ve played is either playable at 60fps by default or provides a 30fps mode with more visual flourishes. It's a dramatic and pleasing shift from the PS4, where games were often 1080p / 30fps.
In the future, more titles will run 4K resolutions at 120 frames per second, too, and there's the potential that less graphically intensive games could reach 8K/60fps. For now, though, we don't expect many games to hit that ambitious target (most will drop the resolution from 4K to achieve a higher frame rate), but there's a chance some titles will be able to achieve that coveted 4K/120fps output down the line.
A small slice of the PS5 launch library supported 120fps, and included Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Devil May Cry V: Special Edition, Dirt 5, Rainbow Six Siege and WRC 9. It's worth noting that you'll need a HDMI 2.1-compliant TV to display the 120Hz refresh rate at higher than 1080p resolution. Here's how to enable 120Hz on PS5.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen as many 120fps enabled games as we’d hoped since the PS5 launched. Still, things are slowly improving, though you'll find far more 120fps games on Xbox Series X|S.
So what can you expect if you pick up a PS5 today? For now at least, most games will be capable of delivering 4K resolution at 30fps or 60fps when using a game's Performance Mode (which we'll explain below). Many will also utilize 4K image assets for crisper textures, while HDR support helps to provide better colors and contrast.
Combine that with ray tracing and improved particle effects that are now possible with the current suite of development tools. Games look leaps and bounds better now than they did a decade ago.
Even though not every PS5 launch game will have it, most should feature the aforementioned Performance Mode, which prioritizes higher frame rates over resolution and extra graphical features. With many games, this sacrifices various graphically-intensive effects like ray tracing or higher shadow quality, and drops the base resolution, in order to achieve higher frame rates like 60fps instead of 30fps.
But why would you want the extra frames at the expense of resolution? Well, higher frame rates make games feel far more responsive – which is a must for first-person shooters that require twitch-based reflexes and split-second decisions.
For some gamers, higher frame rates are the holy grail for consoles – something that has been hard to achieve for decades due to weaker hardware. To have this finally be an obtainable goal feels like a monumental achievement, even if it comes at the cost of some graphical flourishes.
If you'd prefer not to use Performance Mode, you can always choose Resolution Mode. This prioritizes higher resolutions, better rendering techniques like ray tracing, and more detailed graphics. We got a taste of that with Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and we loved what we saw. Lighting was improved substantially: windows glistened in the sunlight and contained realistic reflections, and the particle effects looked stunning.
What you can expect from this new generation of gaming, then, is faster load times, better framerates in Performance Mode, and higher target resolutions everywhere else. Simply choose which option you prefer.
How good is PS5's 3D Tempest Audio?
Adjust your 3D audio profile
If you head into the PS5 settings, you can adjust the 3D audio to suit your preference. There are five levels of height to choose from, so select the option that sounds closest to your ear level. Remember that 3D audio works on any headset, either wirelessly or when plugged into the DualSense controller, and can also be enabled using your TV speakers.
We've tested various spatial audio solutions in the past, ranging from Windows Sonic to Dolby Atmos, and we've found that PS5's 3D Audio is a comparable experience overall, though it isn’t quite the revelation we hoped it might be.
We enjoyed hearing ships fly past and over our head in Astro's Playroom, and appreciated being able to pick out thugs that were closing in on us in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It's not as detailed or as realistic as Sony made out, though, at least not at this stage, and it will be up to developers to get the most out of the technology as it matures.
Returnal has shown that 3D audio can be a powerful tool when it comes to increasing immersion and that it can also be beneficial in fast-paced games where audio cues are just as important as what you see on screen.
The PS5's monstrous footprint gives it one significant advantage over its predecessor in that the console is basically silent – and heat production is also minimal. We have noticed a bit of coil whine on some units, which is where the console emits a faint electrical noise during certain games, but compared to PS4 it’s a monumental improvement.
The PS4 and PS4 Pro were renowned for their ability to kick up the system fans to obnoxious levels and output lots of heat, particularly on the earlier models, so those looking to pick up a PS5 will be relieved to hear that those problems have been eradicated.
We held our hand near the system during a long play session, and although the PlayStation 5 was clearly outputting hot air (as it's designed to do) it was emitting far less than what the PS4 Pro would push out.
Very rarely in our testing did the fans reach an audibly loud level to the degree that the PS4 Pro did when running games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or God of War. However, that could simply be due to the fact that we haven't seen any resource-heavy PS5 games yet. Sony has also promised that it plans to optimize the PS5's fans using over-the-air updates, so the machine could get louder, or indeed quieter, when playing certain games later down the line.
PS5 review: DualSense controller
New DualSense Controller feels like a revolution over the DualShock 4
Highlights are the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback
Mute button can mute your mic or, if your TV has HDMI CEC, your TV
To navigate this brave new world of console gaming, you'll need a new gamepad – namely, the new Sony DualSense controller.
You'll be pleased to hear that you get a DualSense controller in the box with your PS5, and the DualSense feels oddly similar in the hand to the DualShock 4 that shipped with the PS4. We found it to be incredibly comfortable to hold for extended periods, and were shocked that when we went back to our trusty DualShock 4, it felt plain wrong to hold after using the DualSense.
Picking it up for the first time, the DualSense is fairly weighty and balanced, with most of the heft resting in the grips of the controller. While the majority of the controller features a matte white plastic finish, the bottoms of the grips themselves have a slightly rougher texture that actually makes the controller easier to hold, and less likely to slip out of your hands.
In fact, if you look closely, the texture is made up of tiny PlayStation face buttons, which is a neat little touch. The two-tone PS5 controller color scheme extends to the four face buttons, which still consist of the classic Triangle, Circle, Square and Cross (or X); however these are now devoid of color, and remind us of the PS Vita's minimalist approach.
There's a pop of color around the side of the central touchpad, though, as the PS4 Lightbar has thankfully been moved from the top of the gamepad to a less problematic position – thanks to its new placement, you won't now see an annoying glow reflecting off your TV.
Where early PlayStation controllers sported a convex analog design, the PS5 DualSense controller has concave control sticks, just like the DualShock 4, and they feel noticeably more durable this time around, with a pleasing textured finish on the outer ridge.
On early models of the PS4 the rubber analog sticks would sometimes wear away under vigorous gameplay sessions, and we’re pleased to report that even after six months of use, we haven't seen it reoccur with the DualSense. You'll notice a few new buttons you haven't seen before on Sony's new pad, too – like the mute button that turns off the microphone that’s built into the controller.
When this is held down, it can mute your television speakers or headset, which we found to be a useful quality-of-life feature. When speaking into the mic, we found it worked best when we kept the controller in our usual playing position, instead of holding it towards our mouth. We wouldn’t recommend using the DualSense microphone for voice chat, though – it isn’t the highest quality and has a tendency to pick up a lot of environmental sounds.
The highlights of the new DualSense controller, however, are the adaptive trigger buttons that allow developers to add resistance to certain in-game actions. The adaptive triggers can use resistance to create various sensations that mimic real-life actions, like pushing down on the pedal of a car or pulling back a bow string.
It's a huge step forward for haptics in Sony's hardware, and we found that the haptic feedback itself is a vastly superior replacement for the traditional rumble of old. When a character runs across a certain surface, like metal, it manages somehow to replicate that feeling in the palms of your hands – it's a truly wonderful sensation.
So far, we've seen a variation of haptic feedback support integrated into every PS5 game we've played so far, and hope to see it supported by more games in the future; we expect the feature to shine most in first-party titles, though. Returnal uses the DualSense to great effect, mimicking the effect of rainfall using haptic feedback, and the trigger performing two fire types by pressing it either halfway or all the way down.
Battery life, so far, has been a massive improvement over the DualShock 4. We played through a handful of PS5 and PS4 titles during our testing, including Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Astro's Playroom, and the controller eventually ran out of charge after 12 hours and 30 minutes. This will obviously vary depending on the types of games you’re playing and how much they use the DualSense’s features, of course, so that 12 hour figure could end up a lot lower.
Still, it's an impressive feat when you consider the DualShock 4 lasted around five to eight hours at a stretch. While internal batteries can degrade over time, it's a strong start for Sony's new pad, particularly when you consider how much technology is packed into it. Of course, you can also use the controller wired if you prefer.
To charge the DualSense, you have two options: either connect it to the PlayStation 5 itself with the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes inside the box, or shell out for the optional PS5 DualSense Charging Station, which can charge two controllers at a time using the metal conduits on the bottom of the pad near the 3.5mm audio jack.
You can also charge the controller, or your USB headset, via the rear USB ports, or opt to use a USB-C to USB-C cable when using the front USB-C port to charge the DualSense controller.
Either option works well, but the Charging Station does certainly look nicer sitting on the shelf, and more cost-effective third-party charging stations will likely become available in the coming months. We'll also need to test whether charging the controller via a USB-C to USB-C cable is quicker than using the USB-C to USB-A cable that comes with the console.
Redesigned user interface with beautiful splash screens for every game
PlayStation button has all new features
Party chat allows you to screen share
Design is one thing, but what can really elevate a console to the next level is its feature set – and thankfully the PS5 delivers here.
The PS5 innovates on what Sony's consoles have done in the past and, as a result, it might take a minute or two to get used to some of the new controls – pressing and holding the PlayStation button on the controller no longer brings up the quick menu, for example, but instead brings up a new Control Center.
This operates in much the same way as the quick menu did, and lets you view various sub-menus such as your Friends list, downloads in progress, notifications and, if you have your account linked, Spotify.
One of the more prominent new features is the PS5's Cards, with the most impactful being Activity Cards. Cards have various functions, allowing you to track trophy progress, jump into specific parts of a game like a challenge or multiplayer mode, see how far along you are on a game level, or simply see news from a developer. You can even watch a livestream of your friend’s gameplay using a picture-in-picture mode, which is pretty cool.
Cards are also present as you delve further into a game’s information, which is now displayed beautifully on the home screen.
By pressing down on the D-pad or flicking down on the analog stick, you can see the available Cards at a glance, circumventing the need to visit a game's main menu or particular mode to find out what's going on. They should prove useful for gamers of a lesser ability, too, as they can contain in-game hint videos in supported titles that help you overcome specific challenges or find that one last collectible.
Since launch, we've already seen Sony retiring this PS5 launch feature, Accolades. Designed as a community awards feature to lets players commend fellow gamers for their assistance, Sony revealed that it hasn't received much use as anticipated, so it's now been dropped.
Overall, we found Cards to be a useful addition, though horizontally scrolling through each one did feel cumbersome at times.
There's also a slight delay before they appear, which is at odds with the speed of the system as a whole. But, while not essential by any means, they help to add another layer of next-gen gloss to PlayStation 5 experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Outside of the interface, you can expect the return of groups and other social-based features from the PS4, like SharePlay, as well as easy video sharing. You'll be able to jump straight into the game your friends are playing from the menu, or invite them to larger groups. Video sharing on the PS5 works similarly to how it did on the PS4, but it's nice to be able to see a preview in Cards.
Speaking of social features, if you're tired of typing out messages using a D-pad or analog stick, the PS5 also supports voice dictation for messaging thanks to the DualSense controller's built-in mic. You can also use PS5 voice commands to open games, apps and put the console in Rest Mode.
While your mileage may vary when it comes to the accuracy of the dictation (as with all voice recognition software), it could prove handy when you need to fire off a quick message to a friend. We did find it to be inconsistent in our testing, though, and not as accurate as something like Google Assistant.
We also like the fact you can choose system-wide settings for certain aspects on PS5 such as your preferred difficulty level or whether you invert the x or y-axis on your controller during games. You can even choose which graphical mode you prefer games to automatically select: performance or resolution.
PS5: streaming video services and other apps
Of course, game consoles can do more than just provide your thumbs with something to do - modern consoles are also full-on streaming video players.
Right now, you'll find over a dozen supported streaming services on the PS5 including most major services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock and Apple TV, as well as a few more niche services like Twitch, NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN, Vudu, Tubi, WWE Network and Crunchyroll. The selection here isn't as big as you'd find on, say, a Roku streaming player, but it should be enough for most.
The worse news is that, as it stands, there's no support anywhere on the console for Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision. We thought we might see them appear on launch day, but neither materialized and Sony appears to be shunning the popular HDR and audio formats for now.
What that means, unfortunately, is that the PS5 is really only a middling media player - it can't best dedicated streamers like the Nvidia Shield, Amazon Fire TV Cube, Apple TV 4K or the new Roku Ultra, and isn't the console we'd recommend to our cinephile friends looking to host movie night with the highest fidelity films.
PS5 review: game library
Every PS5 comes with Astro’s Playroom installed
PlayStation Plus Collection is a great introduction to new players
Limited backwards compatibility with PS3, PS2 and PS One games
Most consoles don't launch with a full library of games right off the bat, so the launch bar was pretty low for the PS5. That being said, what you make of the PlayStation 5's current game library largely depends on if you finished the masterpieces from the PS4's era – games like God of War, The Last of Us Part II, Marvel's Spider-Man, andUncharted 4: A Thief's End.
If you haven't finished them, or haven't played them at all, you could have over a dozen excellent games to play from the second you turn on the PS5 via backwards compatibility, a number of which have been improved thanks to a 60fps update, like Ghost of Tsushimaand Days Gone.
If you have PS Plus, you might also have access to some older games that passed you by, as Sony's new PlayStation Plus Collection includes 19 defining games from the last generation that you can download on day one. Every PS5 comes pre-installed with Astro's Playroom, too, and it's a thrilling showcase for what the system can do.
A fully fleshed-out sequel to Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, Astro's Playroom is a platformer that features exotic locales in which are hidden artifacts from Sony's PlayStation hardware catalog. You'll find a PlayStation VR Aim Controller hidden in a snowbank somewhere in one level, for example, while another level might contain a PlayStation Portable for you to discover.
It's a nice homage to the PlayStation hardware that's come and gone, but we expect some folks will play through it, then uninstall it to reclaim the 10GB of storage space it takes up on the console. You can always re-download it from your games library or the PlayStation Store should you wish to play it again.
But what else is there to play if you pick up a PS5 today? Well, the PS5 library mostly consists of cross-generation titles at the moment and is helped greatly by the fact it’s fully backward compatible with PS4.
There are also various independent games that are worth a shout, like the indie charmer Bugsnax (that one with the infuriatingly catchy theme tune), which was available as the console's first PlayStation Plus downloadable game.
We'll continue to keep an eye out for the best PS5 games as the console matures and you can keep track of all the new PS5 games on the way.
PS5: backward compatibility
Those masterpieces that we mentioned earlier? Those are all part of Sony's new PlayStation Plus Collection: a small library of hits from the PS4 that Sony's making free to PlayStation Plus subscribers on the PS5.
Some real mainstream classics are included, but also some less-popular gems that are well worth checking out, like Persona 5 and The Last Guardian. The PlayStation Plus Collection might never swell to the size of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass lineup, but even with the 19 games available right now, it's a great perk for PS Plus subscribers.
What about folks who want to play older games? Well, the PlayStation 5 can play almost any PS4 game but not everything is compatible, though the incompatible games list is miniscule. There's no way to pop in a PS3 disc and have it work or transfer over your PlayStation Classics purchases you made on the PS Vita a few years ago.
We're as disappointed as you are with the lack of backward-compatibility support for Sony’s previous generation of games, particularly as Xbox 360 and original Xbox games (physical discs included) work on the Xbox Series X, but it's not uncommon for a new console to only support the last generation of games as manufacturers look to the future.
It used to be that you could choose select PS3/PS2 titles via PlayStation Now… but that's been replaced with a revamped PS Plus service, which also includes PS1 and PSP games. Accessing your old PS4 games is thankfully a cinch on Sony's new system, though. Simply select the Library icon and the PS5 will automatically pull in all your digital purchases and previously installed games, providing you're signed in to your PlayStation Network account.
You'll need to redownload them to the console, of course, or insert the physical disc to activate a game's license. Some games have been upgraded to run better than ever on PS5, too, like Days Gone, which now runs at a silky-smooth 60fps, while God of War can now comfortably hit its 60 frames per second target using the game’s performance mode.
One thing to note is that you may notice your save file is missing when you boot up a PS4 game that you previously owned for the first time – that's because you'll need to redownload your save files from the cloud onto your PS5 console first. Here's how to transfer PS4 save data to PS5.
PS Plus members have access to cloud saves, but if you haven't been backing up your save files over the air, then you may notice your data won’t be there initially. It's not the most seamless system, admittedly, and is bound to confuse some users, but support for carrying over your save files appears to be there for most of the older titles we tested – however, this will vary on a case by case basis.
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
The Nintendo Switch is the first step in bridging the gap between both home and handheld consoles, so it's an incredibly significant addition to Nintendo's esteemed family of consoles and boasts a tonne of shiny features to make it stand out. It packs some impressive capabilities into its hybrid form, especially when considering its flexibility.
Six years on, following a 2019 revision of the console and the release of the Nintendo Switch OLED and Nintendo Switch Lite models, the Nintendo Switch is more popular than it's ever been, and it's apparent Nintendo has struck a winning formula with its handheld hybrid.
The design of the Nintendo Switch has helped Nintendo to continue its high reign in the console space with something entirely unique, especially running off the back of the innovative Nintendo Wii and beloved Nintendo 3DS.
The Switch is a significantly different device from what we've seen prior, and the handheld nature of the console provides the best of both worlds. As the list of best Nintendo Switch games gets bigger with high-quality first-party games and unique third-party offerings, you'll more than likely want to sink hours into the console whenever you can.
Whether you've already made your purchase or not, it's hard to deny that the Nintendo Switch is a fine idea, mixing some of what made the Wii and Wii U appealing for gamers (even if developers had a more challenging time figuring out how to make the most of the latter device).
The Nintendo Switch brings with it a central idea that can benefit literally every game, not just the select few that can use motion control or a second screen. Who hasn't at one time wanted to pack up their console and take it with them? Essentially, the Switch delivers on this hybrid idea. You'll find it a solid, premium handheld that can flip into docked mode and work as you'd expect a home console.
At the same time, the Nintendo Switch certainly isn't perfect: most of the issues it has are a consequence of the way that it dares to try and do everything at once, and it doesn't always get the compromise right.
Those who aren't sold on its hybridity and want that classic Nintendo handheld experience will no doubt be interesting in the compact, lighter alternative: the Nintendo Switch Lite, which offers a solely handheld Switch gaming experience. For those after something more premium, there's also the Nintendo Switch OLED, which mainly improves the portable aspect of play.
Nintendo Switch: price and release date
What is it? Nintendo's hybrid console
When did it come out? March 3, 2017
What does it cost? $259.99 / £259.99 / AUD$435
The original Nintendo Switch launched over five years ago, arriving on March 3, 2017. While it previously cost $299.99 in the US, £259.99 in the UK, and $469.95 in Australia, Nintendo gave this a small price cut after the Switch OLED model arrived October 2021.
Nowadays, you'll find it going a new RRP worldwide of €269.99 / £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435. Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch in the wake of rising global inflation, unlike the recent hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5. So, if you've not yet picked up any of the Nintendo Switch family, there's no need to rush.
Nintendo Switch: design
Three form factors: handheld, console (docked) and tabletop
Lots of accessories, which are at risk of being misplaced
In the box with your shiny new Nintendo Switch, you get the main console, two detachable controller sides (Joy-Cons), a grip which enables you to combine these controller portions into a more traditional gamepad, two straps which can make them into two individual controllers, and a dock for plugging the console into your television.
You also get a USB Type-C power cable (with a non-detachable power brick) and an HDMI cable for connecting the device to your TV. If you think that sounds like a lot of accessories, then you'd be right: we suspect many Nintendo Switch owners will have misplaced at least one or two of these within a few months.
We've wrapped our Joy-Con straps around our Joy-Con grip just to keep everything together, but we'd love some way of attaching them to the console, so they don't end up getting misplaced. It's a pretty novel (not to mention somewhat complicated) setup, so it's worth delving into each of the different ways you can use the console.
Nintendo Switch: handheld mode
Bigger than traditional handhelds
Slightly cramped for the right hand due to right analogue stick
Split D-pad on the left side
First in the Nintendo Switch modes is the handheld mode, the form factor most like the hardware devices that came before the Switch. In this configuration, you attach the two controller portions (the Joy-Cons) to the left and right edges of the screen, then game much as you can with the PlayStation Vita.
In fact, the size and shape of the console's analogue sticks make it feel a lot like a modern Vita, though it's not as solid because of the joints that exist between the Joy-Cons and the screen. Along the top of the Nintendo Switch is a slot for game cartridges, a headphone jack (Bluetooth headphones are now supported after a post-launch update), a volume rocker and a power button.
The bottom of the device is less busy. You've got the kickstand for tabletop mode (more on this later), which conceals a small microSD slot for expandable storage. Internal storage on the Nintendo Switch is limited to just 32GB, so if you're planning on downloading games rather than buying them, you'll want to invest in a Nintendo Switch SD card (capacities up to 2TB are theoretically supported).
Check out our unboxing video of the Nintendo Switch below.
The detachable Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons have a lot going on. The right-hand side has the classic A, B, X, and Y button configuration, an analogue stick (slightly awkwardly placed underneath the face buttons) and two shoulder buttons. A small plus-shaped button is the equivalent of the Wii U's 'Start' button and a home button for reaching the console's system-level menus.
Across on the left, Joy-Con, it's a very similar story, as you would expect. You've got a minus button that acts as the console's 'Select' button, a share button for taking screenshots and video (in selected titles), an analogue stick, two shoulder buttons, and the most un-Nintendo D-pad we've ever seen.
Instead of the classic cross D-pad Nintendo utilized since the NES, the left Joy-Con has a set of four circular buttons that are identical in shape to the face buttons on the right Joy-Con. This design decision, which appears very odd at first glance, is so the left Joy-Con can be used as an individual controller, with the D-pad acting as face-buttons in this configuration (again, more on this later).
Nintendo Switch: console mode
Connects to your TV via an included dock
Docking process is seamless, and can be done mid-game
The second Nintendo Switch form-factor is console mode. You place the main portion in the included dock, which connects the device to your television – you're then free to detach the Joy-Cons to control the Switch from a distance.
The way the console transfers the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be, and you don't even have to pause your game. Everything happens in real-time. Detaching the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons can be a little fiddly, admittedly: it's done by holding small buttons on their backs and sliding the controllers up.
The TV dock is roughly the same size as the Nintendo Switch's middle portion. Around the back, you've got a USB Type-C port to provide the console with power, an HDMI port to connect it to your television, and a USB Type-A port. On the left-hand side of the console are two additional USB ports, mainly used for charging your Switch controllers as you play wirelessly (more on this in a moment).
If you want to use the Nintendo Switch with multiple televisions throughout your home, you can buy additional Switch docks, which make it easy to transition from one screen to another, plug-and-play style. You can even use an OLED model's dock, which has a built-in Ethernet port.
Nintendo Switch: tabletop mode
Screen can also be detached and propped up on a table
Great for two-player gaming, but four players on the console's small screen is a push
The final form factor for the Nintendo Switch is what Nintendo calls 'tabletop mode'. Using the kickstand attached to the back of the screen, you can prop the console up on a table and then detach the Joy-Cons for some semi-portable gaming. In theory, this is perfect for long journeys on public transport where you have a tray table to place the console on; in reality, we found it a bit of a mixed experience.
We do like being able to use the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons in the grip rather than having them attached to the console – the grip provides just enough extra plastic to make the controllers much more comfortable in the hands, and having the console a little further away means your sitting posture can be a lot more natural.
Tabletop mode is also great for multiplayer on the Switch. Detaching both Joy-Cons to allow two people to play against one another is a pleasure: it makes the Nintendo Switch perfect for whipping out at small gatherings where you'll already have everything you need for a multiplayer session. However, a couple of issues prevent the console from fully capitalizing on this intriguing tabletop mode.
First is the kickstand. Although it's rubberized, which means that the Switch doesn't slide around, it only supports the console at a single height. If your tray table is a little closer to you, then there's no ability to prop the console up so that it's facing you more directly, and instead, you'll be stuck with the screen pointing at your chest rather than your face.
Second is the Nintendo Switch charging port, which is inaccessible when you use it in tabletop mode. During a recent train journey, this meant that although we were in the perfect situation to use tabletop mode, we ended up using the console as a handheld to charge it up.
Finally, the Nintendo Switch screen is just a little too small for multiplayer gaming for more than two players. Four-player Mario Kart is almost impossible due to the size and resolution of the display (we found ourselves putting our faces inches from the console to be able to make out distant details).
Overall, tabletop mode on the Switch feels better suited to short periods of use, which is a shame when it feels like it should be the de facto way to use the Nintendo Switch over long periods.
Nintendo Switch: set-up
Set-up is simple enough
Console needs to be told whether Joy-Cons are being used together or separately
Setting up a brand new Nintendo Switch is refreshingly simple; you'll be pleased to learn. If you're using the device as a handheld, attach the Joy-Cons, press the power button, and... er... that's it.
If you want to play Nintendo Switch games on your TV, you need to plug the dock into the TV via HDMI, then hook it up to some power via the included USB Type-C power lead. The console then easily slips into the dock.
Pairing the controllers is a little more complicated than with other devices because of the fact that they can either be paired or used separately. The way you tell the Switch which controllers you're using is to press both the L and R shoulder buttons in whichever configuration you've opted for. So if you're using the Joy-Cons individually, you press the buttons on the Joy-Con straps to indicate this is the case.
On the software side, the console asks for the standard combination of Wi-Fi details and user account set-up info. These details are a doddle to input on the console's touchscreen – the keyboard isn't quite as good as a phone's, but it's much better than a typical console experience. Afterwards, games can be played off a cartridge or the Nintendo Switch's internal memory.
Nintendo Switch: recent updates
Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch since the Lite's launch. Alongside the launch of the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED, it's also seen continued system updates.
Let's not forget Nintendo has designed some absolutely classic controllers in its time – the original NES controller wrote the blueprint that console controllers have followed ever since, the N64 was the first console to have a controller with an analogue thumb-stick, and the Wii (for better or for worse) introduced the world to motion-controlled gaming.
With the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has attempted the seemingly impossible in creating a system that's simultaneously one whole controller and two separate controllers, while also functioning as controllers in the handheld mode.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: general impressions
By trying to do many things at once the Joy-Cons don't do anything perfectly
HD Rumble tech is impressive – but developers need to find a use for it
Ultimately these multiple roles mean the Nintendo Switch controllers end up being jacks of all trades and masters of none. None of the controller configurations are unusable, but we've used more comfortable controllers in the past that have had the advantage of only having to do one job very well.
The left Joy-Con's D-pad sums up the problem in a nutshell: rather than going for the cross D-pad that Nintendo has been using since the NES, the D-pad is instead split into four separate buttons to allow them to be used as face buttons when the Joy-Con is utilized as an individual controller. The result is a D-pad that you're not going to want to use for classic games that rely on it a lot, such as Street Fighter.
The Nintendo Switch analogue sticks also feel like a compromise between form factors: too small for a traditional gamepad, yet big enough that we wouldn't want to throw the device too carelessly into a rucksack for fear of one of them snapping off.
You do have the option of buying separate accessories which don't have these issues (the Nintendo Switch Pro controller being a prime example), but in this review we're going to limit ourselves to talking about what you get in the box, since this is the primary way most people are going to be using the console – at least initially.
One part of the Switch controllers that we absolutely love are the face buttons. They're a little smaller than those on other consoles, but they've got a really satisfying click to them that we really appreciate. The Joy-Cons feature an interesting form of rumble, which Nintendo has dubbed 'HD Rumble'. From what we've seen so far this isn’t just a marketing gimmick – it feels like a step forward for rumble tech.
One mini-game in the launch game 1-2 Switch has you milking cows, sure, but it also counts the number of (virtual) balls inside a Joy-Con. It's impressive just how well the HD Rumble creates the impression of there being real balls inside the controller. Another mini-game impresses by tasking you to crack a safe by feeling the click of a dial as you turn it.
Both mini-games have us excited for the possibilities of HD Rumble in the future, but the success of the technology depends on the ability of Switch developers to make use of it – the potential is there, but we're still waiting for a killer app. Nintendo made practical use of the feature in the Switch 3.0 OS update – if you've lost one Joy-Con but the two are still paired, you can make the other vibrate to find it.
There were initially reports of connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch, something which we experienced ourselves. The problem is that sometimes during gameplay, the left Joy-Con's connection just drops out completely. Fortunately, Nintendo is now offering a Joy-Con repair service for any broken ones, so we'd advise sending yours in if you experience connectivity issues of any kind.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: handheld
Handheld controls are a little cramped and awkward
Right analogue stick in particular is uncomfortable
It's in the handheld configuration that the Nintendo Switch controller's deficiencies are most apparent. The main problem is the low positioning of the right analogue stick, which we found very difficult to operate comfortably.
Either you hold the Switch precariously on the tips of your fingers in order to operate the analogue stick with the tip of your right thumb, or you hold the device more tightly and operate the thumbstick with the inside of your thumb knuckle, which feels rather cramped and awkward.
Looking back, the Vita layout is very similar, but the increased weight of the Nintendo Switch makes it much more difficult to comfortably hold on the fingertips. It's a mode that we think works in small bursts, but it's not comfortable over longer periods.
If you're gaming on Nintendo Switch on a flight, for example, we'd expect most people to opt to put the console in tabletop mode on the tray table in front of them. We are, however, fans of the shoulder buttons, which manage to feel big enough without impacting on the depth of the console too much.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: grip
Analogue sticks smaller than traditional controllers
Overall the controller is comfortable and nice to use
Clicky face buttons are especially appealing
The main way we expect people will play with the console when it's docked is by combining the two Joy-Cons together into a single controller. This is done by using the included Joy-Con grip, which the two sides slide neatly into.
We were initially concerned when it was revealed that the Joy-Con grip that comes with the Nintendo Switch is unable to charge the two controllers – this means that if you want to charge your controllers you'll need to plug them back into the console's screen.
The Joy-Cons' battery life is rated at 20 hours, so we'd be surprised if they ever run out of battery mid-game; at the same time, having to dismantle our controllers after every play session is somewhat annoying. A grip that charges the Joy-Cons is available, but this is sold separately. Aside from charging concerns, we were surprised with how the Nintendo Switch controller feels when assembled in the grip.
Although the analogue sticks are a little small, we found them perfectly usable for lengthy Breath of the Wild play sessions, and the addition of a little more plastic massively helps the ergonomics of the controller as a whole.
It's just a shame that the controller doesn’t have a proper D-pad on its left side: as it stands you're going to need to buy the Pro controller if you want that traditional Nintendo controller feel on the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: individual controllers
Oddly positioned buttons due to having to work as a combined controller
A nice option to have if you want a friend to join you for multiplayer
Split the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons apart and they can work as individual controllers complete with an analogue stick each, four face buttons, and (if you attach a Joy-Con strap) two shoulder buttons. It's this configuration that feels like it's required the biggest compromise in Nintendo's pursuit to make them work in multiple ways.
On the left Joy-Con the D-pad/face buttons are in the centre of the controller, which means your right thumb is uncomfortably far over, and the same is true of the analogue stick on the right Joy-Con. The asymmetrical configuration also makes describing controls to another person very difficult, since the control buttons have different names between the two Joy-Cons.
The lack of hand grips is also prone to causing cramp if you use the controllers over long periods, especially if the game you're playing relies heavily on the Joy-Con's shoulder buttons. As a final point, the shoulder buttons can feel a little stiff to press, which adds to the discomfort of using them over long periods.
So while this configuration might work in a pinch if you want to let a friend join you for a couple of rounds of Mario Kart, we don't see it being something you'll want to spend a lot of time with. Additionally, you'll need to remember to carry the Joy-Con straps with your Nintendo Switch if you want to use the shoulder buttons, which will be an annoying inconvenience for most people.
Alternatively, you can use the two Joy-Cons as a single controller while split apart. Here they function identically to when they’re assembled into the Joy-Con grip, although we found it much less comfortable because of how cramped the right analogue stick ends up feeling.
Again, this feels like a compromise, this time for when you've forgotten your Joy-Con grip. We can't see ourselves using this configuration much at all unless a motion-controlled game specifically calls for it in the future.
Nintendo was a little late to the online party. While Microsoft stormed ahead with its Xbox Live service and Sony got to grips with the PlayStation Network, Nintendo was languishing with inconvenient friend codes and limited voice chat options.
After a lengthy initial wait, Nintendo Switch Online is in full swing. As you're probably aware, it brings with it the ability to save games in the cloud, access to a host of classic NES games, and of course online multiplayer. The downside is you have to fork out £3.49 / $3.99 to Nintendo every month for the basic plan.
Nintendo Switch: online multiplayer
Basic service has been online for a while
Full service launched in October 2018
Online multiplayer was available in some games from the launch of the Nintendo Switch, but now it's here in full – if you're willing to pay for it. We've already had a play around with the console's companion app, which was compatible with Splatoon 2 right away.
You could invite friends to matches, and voice chat with them, even if the whole process was rather cumbersome. Using a separate device isn't ideal, and connectivity usually wasn't perfect. Since the full Nintendo Switch Online service launched, things improved with direct in-game invites, but these aren't often utilised.
What we can tell you is that regular updates to the Nintendo Switch companion app and the firmware on the console itself have continued to introduce some very welcome features – such as the ability to add friends directly from your 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists.
Nintendo Switch: local wireless multiplayer
Easy to set up and join other players
Supports up to eight Switch consoles
Local wireless multiplayer within a game such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe works very well in our experience. We used three Nintendo Switch consoles to have six people playing at once and found the entire process simple to set up, with no lag or connection problems.
To set up an online multiplayer game using local wireless, players simply start up Mario Kart and select local wireless mode for either one or two players within the game itself. After this, one player will set up a room which the other players then join, and the player who set up the room selects the race rules.
Each player will be given the chance to vote for their track preference and the game will randomly choose a track from those that players have voted for, much like online play works. If you have two players to one console, then the screen will split for each of you to see your place in the race, but you won't see what everyone else is seeing on their screens unless their consoles are in front of you.
In the specific case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the maximum number of players that you can have in a single race over local wireless is eight, with one or two players per Switch. You can also do LAN matches with up to 12 players. However, if you don't have multiple consoles then up to four friends can play on a single Nintendo Switch console in TV mode, or in tabletop mode.
Alternatively, if you have a lot of friends and a lot of consoles to hand, up to 12 consoles in TV mode can be connected via LAN Play, with one or two players per connected Nintendo Switch. However with each player required to have their own USB Ethernet adaptor, it's unlikely that many outside of tournaments will end up using their Nintendo Switch consoles in this way.
Nintendo Switch Online
Limited functionality at launch
Full service arrived in October 2018
Nintendo Switch Online certainly looks better than what it's offered in the past, but it still falls short of what competitors Sony and Microsoft are doing. The service costs $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 if you're paying month by month, with the monthly cost dropping slightly if you commit to more months at once.
And remember those are the prices for one user. If you've got a family on your Nintendo Switch then you'll be looking to sign up for the more expensive family plan which costs £31.49 / $34.99 per year. It seems like a fair bit more, but it does allow up to eight accounts across multiple consoles, meaning you get a decent discount if you know a few people with Switch consoles who are willing to split.
Large parts of the service function through an app on your phone, so you'll have to have it on you if you want to use some of the online functions. The service also offers its own somewhat limited version of Sony's PlayStation Plus free games and Microsoft's Xbox Games with Gold, giving players access to a small library of 20 NES games at launch (with modern features like online multiplayer).
Nintendo has continued adding NES and SNES games regularly but if you opt for the more expensive Expansion Pack, there’s Mega Drive and N64 games too.
Something a lot of people have been waiting for has also arrived with the online service: cloud saves. Those who subscribe to the online service can finally back up their saves for the games they've plugged hundreds of hours into (though they do have to pay for the privilege).
Though the Switch launched without the popular video streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime we've come to expect from consoles. Nintendo was quick to promise that these services would come to the console 'in time', though five years on, this remains sparse.
Hulu is the first of these services to have launched. It's US-only, but we're hoping this is a good sign that other streaming services will be arriving soon. YouTube and Crunchyroll have since arrived, too.
Nintendo Switch: eShop online store
eShop available at launch with modern games
Retro games available through Nintendo Switch Online
Like the Wii U before it, the Nintendo Switch features an online store that will allow you to download games rather than buy them in-store.
As for the Virtual Console seen on previous Nintendo devices, that's not coming to the Nintendo Switch. Instead, retro games are available through the online subscription service we've already mentioned. We like the eShop's minimalist design. Along the left are sections for Recent Releases, Coming Soon, Charts, Current Offers and Redeem Code, alongside some search functionality too.
You can add upcoming games to your Watch List, and there's also a section for downloading previously purchased titles to your Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is clearly planning to continue to add to the store as time goes on, too.
This original review was based on the Nintendo Switch model released at launch. However Nintendo has since updated its standard model to one which boasts a longer battery life.
With the Nintendo Switch having to work as a handheld as well as a home console, we were initially worried that the console's graphical abilities would be limited. Internally the Switch is using an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is broadly similar to what was found in the Nvidia Shield.
That's not exactly a bad thing considering the Shield is a 4K-capable set-top box, but you have to remember that as a portable device the Switch needs to make compromises to ensure decent battery life. At launch, concerns over graphical horsepower appeared to be partly borne out, but we wouldn't call them deal-breakers.
Nintendo Switch: graphical performance
Roughly equivalent to Wii U
Not on a PS4 or Xbox One level
Strength of Nintendo's art direction makes up for technical shortcomings
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, runs at a resolution of 720p on the Wii U, while this is boosted to 900p on the Switch when docked and outputting to a Full HD screen (4K output isn't supported).
On the surface this suggests the Switch has the graphical edge on the Wii U, but we experienced frequent frame rate drops when playing the game on our television. Meanwhile, when played on the Switch's own 720p screen, the game maintained a consistent frame rate.
These observations would suggest that we're looking at a new console with roughly equivalent power to Nintendo’s last-generation system, but we'll see how the situation improves as developers continue to get to grips with the new hardware.
Nintendo has never been one to push the graphical envelope though, not really. Past games such as the Wii U's Mario Kart 8 have certainly looked good, but this has been more as a result of their distinctive art style than the technical prowess of their graphics. We're thankful then that this has tended to be a strong suit of Nintendo's in the past.
The look of the games (in handheld mode at least) is also helped by the quality of the Switch's screen. Although it's only a 720p resolution, the screen is bright and its colors are vibrant. It's not up there with the best smartphones on the market, but it's definitely a step above Nintendo’s past handhelds.
We'll have to see what the Nintendo Switch achieves in the graphical department going forward, but this certainly isn't a console to rival the likes of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Since the release of Sony and Microsoft's new generation successors, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, that technological gap has only widened further.
Still, the games we've played look very good for handheld games, but as console games they don't quite have the same fidelity of current-generation games on other consoles.
Nintendo Switch: battery life
As low as 2.5 hours for graphically intensive games
Enough for a commute, but longer journeys might prove problematic
Ability to charge over USB allows use of portable battery packs
Much has been made of the Switch's battery life, which Nintendo has claimed will last between 2.5 and 6 hours. In our experience this claim has rung true. When actively playing Zelda we got around 2.5 hours, which was enough to cover our commute to and from work in a single day before we charged the Switch overnight.
If you're looking to use the console for a longer period, such as on a flight, then there are a couple of things you can do to squeeze some more battery life out of the console – turning on airplane mode for example (although this prevents you from detaching the Joy-Cons), and dimming the screen.
Additionally you're able to use portable battery packs, but this is hardly ideal, and we found that the Nintendo Switch draws so much power that at best they prevented the battery from dropping during play, rather than actively recharging it.
It's difficult to compare this battery life to previous handheld consoles, as even on the Switch itself this battery life will vary massively between different games, but we've seen a rest-mode comparison that put the Switch ahead of the Vita and PSP, while losing out to the DS and GameBoy Advance.
The bottom line is that this is a console that should be able to deal with your daily commute, but might struggle with longer journeys.
Update: This page originally covered the games that launched alongside the console. However after five years on sale, the number of games on the Nintendo Switch has increased significantly – check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch games for a constantly-updated list of the games you absolutely need to pick up.
Plenty of good games over the first 12 months
Eventual success will rely on third-party developers
Lack of graphical parity may harm long-term support
The Nintendo Switch's launch lineup comprised a combination of ports of existing games such as Shovel Knight, World of Goo and I Am Setsuna, new entries in existing franchises like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R, and all-new games like Snipperclips, 1-2 Switch and Fast RMX.
All in all it wasn't a bad launch lineup, but the first 12 months that the Nintendo Switch was on sale also saw big new releases in the form of Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2 and Arms.
How this will continue playing out isn't fully clear, but Fils-Aime did say that a main Nintendo development philosophy is to have at least one of its classic franchises on every platform. In its first year, the console received ports of big games like Minecraft and FIFA. Though hardly new, these remain important for consumers who don't plan on using the Switch as a second console, but their primary gaming device.
The real test in the long term will be how third-party developers (i.e. those not financed by Nintendo directly) embrace the console. Although its graphics are good for a handheld, we worry that a lack of graphical parity with PS4 and Xbox One will prevent developers from easily supporting the console alongside those devices, which may harm the number of game releases it gets in the future.
So far there have been some positive signs for third-party support on the Nintendo Switch. Rocket League developer Psyonix brought the game to the console, for example, and Snake Pass' launch suggests games can be brought over to the Switch without too many compromises.
Mario and Zelda have always been excellent games. Still, without the likes of franchises with more regular release schedules like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, you might find yourself lacking games to play in the long run. Thankfully, Nintendo usually releases at least one first-party game each month, so there's never a major drought.
We've had the chance to try out a select portion of the console's games at launch, so read on for our thoughts.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Impressive modernization of a classic franchise
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of Nintendo Switch's launch lineup. Although the game also arrived on Nintendo's older Wii U console, the thought of being able to take a full-on, modern Zelda on the go was always going to be a compelling proposition.
But quite apart from being the best handheld Zelda game ever made, the game is also up there with being one of the best in the series too. It feels fantastically broad and open, with dozens of weapons to find, items to craft, and environments to explore.
Yes, the game breaks with tradition in so many ways but the experience still ends up feeling quintessentially Zelda, with all the charm that this entails. If you're picking up a Nintendo Switch or have done already, then Breath of the Wild is an absolutely essential purchase. It won't be long before its direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, also arrives.
An interesting showcase of the hardware, but doesn't quite have the staying power of Wii Sports
Like the Wii before it, the Nintendo Switch introduces new technologies to gaming that haven't been explored before. Whereas the Wii had Wii Sports to show off these new concepts, the Switch is banking on 1-2 Switch to demonstrate what the new hardware is capable of. The result is a mini-game collection, which cover everything from sword-fighting, Wild West gunslinging, and cow-milking.
It's a fun collection of games, but we don't think it has the same 'replayability' as the classic Wii Sports did. The fact this isn't a pack-in game and requires a separate purchase doesn't help it, either.
The games are more about performing in front of your friends than outright winning. For example, one game has you pulling yoga poses and trying to keep as still as possible for as long as you can, but since the Joy-Con is only tracking the movement of one hand, there's nothing forcing you to actually hold the pose specified by the game (aside from drawing the ire of your friends).
There's also no single-player mode for you to practise with when you're away from a group of pals. Overall the game is a bit of a mixed bag, but it's a fun one to use to show off your new Nintendo Switch to friends.
A great little co-op indie game
One of the nice surprises of the Switch launch event way back when was Snipperclips, a small puzzle game in which two players solve puzzles by cutting sections out of each other and changing their character's shapes.
It’s a delightful, charming, little game, and with its budget price tag we think it's another essential purchase for anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.
Just Dance 2017
A competent entry in the series
You've almost certainly heard of Just Dance, the dancing series that first premiered on the Wii way back in 2009.
The game tasks you with completing various dance routines, either on your own or with a friend, and judges your progress based on the movement of a Joy-Con in your hand (unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a way to use two Joy-Cons simultaneously).
Much like 1-2 Switch, there's little to stop you cheating and not dancing with your whole body, but (also like 1-2 Switch) this is meant as a party game, so social niceties will hopefully stop you from spoiling the fun.
It's not the most feature-packed or technically advanced game in the world, but if you've enjoyed Just Dance games in the past then this appears to be a very serviceable version for the Nintendo Switch.
By all accounts the Nintendo Switch has had an amazing start to life, with a number of excellent exclusive games and solid sales. However, the complete package (including Nintendo Switch Online) has only recently become available, so we'll have to reserve judgment on that part of the wider Nintendo Switch experience for the time being.
When compared with the handheld consoles that have come before it, the Nintendo Switch blows them out of the water with its graphical quality, which comes close to the last generation of consoles. This is helped by its impressive screen which is bright, crisp, and colorful.
Providing the console with a controller that also doubles as two individual controllers is a very neat inclusion, and should mean that you're always able to join a friend for a quick multiplayer game while you're out and about.
We're pleased to report that the Nintendo Switch docking and undocking process is impressively seamless too, with games that don't even need to be paused before being plugged into a television. We also like the pattern of regular updates that Nintendo has established: Fortnite has just been added, for example, and the online service seems set to shake things up once again.
The phrase "jack of all trades and master of none" may sound negative, but the impression the Nintendo Switch has left us with is that sometimes compromise is necessary and good.
Yes there are better home consoles out there with controllers that can be good at doing just one thing, and yes there are handhelds out there that have better battery life and a more compact form-factor, but no other piece of gaming hardware has attempted the sheer number of things as the Nintendo Switch does – and then delivered so competently on so many of them.
The graphics aren't the best around, but they're good enough that they don't feel dated. The controller isn't the most comfortable, but it never feels outright difficult to use. The battery life isn't the best, but it's enough for daily use.
All of these trade-offs have been born out of compromise and an attempt to make something that works in so many situations, and on that final point the Nintendo Switch is a great success.
What remains to be seen is if, in the years ahead, its games library can shape up to be something you'll want to play both at home and on the go, and whether its online service can compete with the existing efforts from Sony and Microsoft. If both of these play out well, Nintendo will have found a set of compromises worth making.
So is the £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435 asking price justified? At this point, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Nintendo has released excellent game after excellent game for the system, and the hardware does a great job of making these games come alive.
The Nintendo Switch OLED might not seem like a drastic upgrade in comparison to the standard Nintendo Switch console, or at least not on paper, but it boasts some incredible improvements that build upon the solid foundations set by its predecessor. The 7-inch display alone offers vivid colors and perfect blacks, which is a drastic upgrade over the standard LCD panel.
Outside of the display, the Nintendo Switch OLED hosts enhanced speakers to make gameplay without headphones far more enjoyable, sounding definitively less tinny than its 2017 counterpart. This alone makes the best Nintendo Switch games sound crisper than ever.
In addition, the console has twice the amount of storage as the original Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, with a total of 64GB. That is still a far cry from the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which offer far faster storage at significantly higher capacities. However, Switch games tend to be significantly smaller, and the console has a Micro SD slot, so you can always expand if needed at an affordable rate.
So far, so good, then... but Nintendo has shamelessly overlooked one of the three core pillars of the Switch experience – TV mode – and the new console is a hard sell as a result. Despite redesigning the console’s dock, adding smoother edges, more breathing room, and even a LAN port for those who like to play online, the OLED is surprisingly bare in this crucial sector.
Another great disappointment for Switch players playing on their televisions is that you’re still capped to a 1080p output; there’ll be no 4K upscaling. So whenever you dock the Nintendo Switch OLED, all of its major selling points miraculously disappear. This boggles my mind considering that this is a console that’s supposed to cater equally to three types of play.
Everything about this feels entirely at odds with the console's more premium feel. Countless titles and developers could have benefitted from a refresh of the Switch's aging components, so it's a shame Nintendo didn't respond to the clamor from both developers and consumers with the console approaching its sixth anniversary.
So who is the Nintendo Switch OLED model for, and is it worth splashing the cash to upgrade if you already own the original Switch or handheld-only Switch Lite? Well, if you’re new to the Switch line, the answer is a definite ‘yes’ – this is the best version of Nintendo's ingenious console to date and one that corrects many of the faults of the original model.
If you play the Switch in handheld or tabletop mode, then nothing stops you from upgrading to the OLED. The OLED has much to offer thanks to the gorgeous 7-inch OLED screen, amazing speakers, and redesigned kickstand. However, if you currently have a Switch and use it primarily in TV mode, we can confidently say that the Switch OLED would be a luxury and unnecessary upgrade.
You can watch our Nintendo Switch OLED video review below:
Nintendo Switch OLED price and release date
What is it? The fourth iteration of Nintendo's hybrid console
When did it come out? October 8, 2021
What does it cost? $349.99 / £309.99 / AU$539.95
The Nintendo Switch OLED launched on October 8, 2021, and it's the fourth iteration of Nintendo's home console. It costs $349.99 / £309.99 / AU$539.95, so it’s slightly more expensive than the original Nintendo Switch, which retails for $299.99 / £259.99 / AU$469.95, and it’s obviously a more considerable investment than the Nintendo Switch Lite, which costs $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model's higher price tag seems reasonable, however. The upgraded console comes with a larger, 7-inch OLED display, enhanced speakers, double the internal storage and a wider kickstand, and you also get a slightly improved dock that includes a LAN port for more stable online play.
Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch OLED, unlike the hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5 that were blamed on global inflation. So, if you haven't picked up an OLED model yet, there's no need to rush.
Nintendo Switch OLED design
Three modes: TV, handheld, and tabletop
Same detachable Joy-Con controllers
It comes with various accessories
If it weren't for the larger screen and new pristine white Joy-Con controllers, you'd be hard-pressed to notice any design differences between the Switch OLED and the original Switch. However, look a little closer, and several changes can be found.
The new 7-inch OLED display is the most prominent new design feature, and it's surprisingly impactful, despite only being 0.8 inches larger than the original Switch's 6.2-inch screen. As a result, the Switch OLED is slightly bigger than its predecessor: it's 0.1 inches longer, at 9.5 x 0.55 x 4 inches (W x D x H), but it still feels immediately familiar in the hands.
The Switch OLED has a bit more heft about it, though. It weighs 422 grams with the Joy-Con attached, about 22 grams more than the Nintendo Switch. Thankfully, we didn’t find that the added weight caused any fatigue when playing, but it's worth bearing in mind if you already feel like the Switch is a touch on the heavy side.
You'll find the same Nintendo Switch accessories we're used to seeing in the box: two Joy-Con controllers, a pair of Joy-Con straps, and a Joy-Con Grip.
You also get the redesigned Nintendo Switch dock, which includes the new LAN port, which is slightly longer but not quite as deep as the original dock. There's a bit more wiggle room inside, too, which should allow for more efficient airflow and lessens the chance that you'll gradually scratch the Switch's screen by repeatedly putting it in and taking it out of the dock. The dock is also a touch lighter, not that you’ll be moving it very often, and it contains one fewer 2.0 USB port.
It's also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED will work in the old dock, and the original Nintendo Switch will work in the new one. Both may require a system update, but it's pleasing to know that your old dock won't be rendered entirely useless.
Other Switch OLED design changes include a repositioned microSD slot, which sits behind the wider kickstand and is easier to find, a slightly more recessed power button that’s now oval-shaped, and a wider volume rocker. It also features smaller slits for the fans to exhaust hot air, which help to give the Switch OLED a more modern appearance. You also get a headphone jack, as on the other Switch models.
Aesthetically speaking, the Nintendo Switch OLED hides the older Switch's product information and warnings. While it's a small addition, the back of the Switch now looks much cleaner as a result, with the info tucked discreetly away behind the new stand.
While we mostly welcome the Nintendo Switch OLED's more minor design touches, we severely dislike one change: the new Game Card slot. The little indentation on the original Switch's Game Card slot is gone, making it almost impossible to open if you don't have any fingernails. We found ourselves scratching at the Game Card's new slot countless times in an attempt to pry it open, and frankly, we can't understand why this change was made when it’s objectively worse.
Nintendo Switch OLED: handheld mode
The new 7-inch OLED display is a revelation
Still not the most ergonomic design
Joy-Con durability concerns remain
Vivid or Standard mode?
The Nintendo Switch OLED lets you choose between two screen settings: Vivid and Standard. Vivid is the default setting and provides extremely punchy and vibrant colors, which many will find pleasing. Standard, meanwhile, is more akin to the original Switch's color setting and provides a more natural and accurate picture. By heading to System Settings > System > Console Screen Vividness, you can see which suits you best.
Nintendo's Switch OLED model shines in handheld mode thanks to the vibrant new display. The 7-inch panel makes it easier to track the action in fast-paced games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the high-contrast display breathes new life into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Metroid Dread is an excellent showcase, too, as its dimly lit levels and alien-like color palette benefit from the OLED’s incredible contrast ratio.
Compared side-by-side with the new display, the original Switch’s LCD panel, almost looks washed out. Everything looks punchy and enticing on the OLED model – blacks, in particular, are inky and inviting on the OLED, whereas on the original, they look muted and gray.
The Switch OLED's display is still only 720p; however, games and text still looked sharp and legible when using the console in a comfortable position. We didn't encounter any motion blur issues, and the display was suitably bright, even in daylight conditions.
We still don't think the Nintendo Switch OLED is the most ergonomic gaming device we've ever used. The flat and wide console shape can lead to hand cramps during longer play sessions, and Joy-Con controllers use the same design as the original console, which is five years old, meaning durability concerns remain. The Joy-Con still tends to move up and down ever so slightly when attached to the console, too, which we’ve always found concerning since they’re supposed to lock in place.
Nintendo Switch OLED: TV mode
No 4K support, still the same 1080p output
No HDR support either
Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch OLED offers zero improvements over its predecessor in TV mode. Yes, the new dock includes a LAN port for more stable online gaming compared to playing over Wi-Fi, but you still get the same 720p UI and a max output resolution of 1080p. Even then, you could plug a LAN adapter into your Switch dock.
With 4K TVs now commonplace in most households, it seems like a massive oversight not to include any 4K support with the Switch OLED. Even the Xbox One S, a console released in 2016, can output at 4K.
The Nintendo Switch OLED also doesn't include support for high dynamic range or HDR as it's commonly known. Again, we've seen last-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One offer this functionality for years, so it would have been great to see Nintendo implement some modern-day display technologies to boost TV TV mode.
Nintendo Switch OLED: tabletop mode
Adjustable stand is a vast improvement over the original
OLED display offers better viewing angles
Enhanced speakers make a difference
Another plus point of the Nintendo Switch OLED is its performance in tabletop mode. Thanks to its wider, redesigned kickstand, it's far easier (and safer) to use the Switch in tabletop mode, perfect for impromptu multiplayer sessions. The hinge is far more robust and makes a satisfying thud when closed – we don’t have any concerns about it loosening over time and failing to snap into place like the old one.
As on the original Switch, Joy-Con controllers can be detached from the side of the unit, allowing you to prop the console on a table or other surface to play with a friend (or stranger) at a moment's notice.
But where the old kickstand limited you to one viewing angle, the Switch OLED's adjustable stand can be positioned in multiple ways. It makes for a far more enjoyable viewing experience, and the excellent viewing angles of the OLED display mean you don't need to huddle together when facing off in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The Nintendo Switch OLED's enhanced speakers also really come to life in tabletop mode. Our favorite games sounded punchy and clear, without distortion at higher volumes, which is essential when you can't reach for a pair of headphones.
Nintendo Switch OLED performance
Exactly the same tech specs as the original Switch
Even though the original Nintendo Switch was approaching its fifth anniversary when this released, the Nintendo Switch OLED model offers no performance boost whatsoever. The enhanced display aside, the best Switch games look and play the same as before, with the new console having the same Nvidia Custom Tegra X1 processor and 4GB of RAM as its predecessor.
This will disappoint those who were hoping for a more powerful Switch model, which has often been dubbed a "Nintendo Switch Pro". Most Switch games still play perfectly well, of course, but there's no doubt that the console's hardware is beginning to show its age. That's especially true that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are on the market.
Games will at least look prettier thanks to the console's new high-contrast display, and for some, that might be enough – but we were hoping for more here. Thankfully, battery life is on par with the Nintendo Switch (2019) version, so expect between 4.5 hours and nine hours, depending on the game you're playing.
And it's not just Nintendo's first-party lineup that makes the Switch an appealing prospect; the console is also home to fantastic indie games such as Hades, Celeste, and Spelunky 2, many of which feel far more enjoyable to play untethered from the TV.
OLED stands for ‘Organic Light Emitting Diode’. OLED panels bring you better image quality (blacker blacks and brighter whites), reduced power consumption, and faster response times. OLED panels emit their own light when an electric current is passed through, whereas cells in an LCD-LED display require an external light source, like a giant backlight, for brightness. It means individual pixels can be turned on and off, preventing the display from exhibiting backlight bleed, bloom, or haloing that can occur in other display technologies.
Is the Nintendo Switch OLED prone to burn-in?
One of the most common concerns regarding OLED displays is that they can be susceptible to burn-in. Burn-in is a term used to describe permanent image retention on OLED displays that can occur from looping logos or static HUDs. When such elements are displayed for hours, it can permanently scar the panel's pixels, leaving residual 'ghost' patterns that can't be turned off.
Thankfully, OLED panel manufacturers have made great strides in negating burn-in. LG uses 'screen shift' technology, which subtly moves static images onscreen to ensure individual pixels aren't outputting the same information for sustained periods.
But could the Nintendo Switch OLED be susceptible to burn-in? Nintendo told TechRadar: "We’ve designed the OLED screen to aim for longevity as much as possible, but OLED displays can experience image retention if subjected to static visuals over a long time.
"However, users can take preventative measures to preserve the screen by utilizing some of the Nintendo Switch console’s included features, such as using auto-brightness to prevent the screen from getting too bright and enabling the auto-sleep function to put the console into “auto sleep” and turn off the screen after short periods of time."
Nintendo Switch OLED: Recent updates
Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch OLED since it launched last October, thanks to continued system updates.