Since its inception, the Nintendo Switch has certainly lived up to the goal of being a portable platform like no other. However, it has lacked a good, portable solution for transporting your dock. Today we will be looking at a new entrant into this tricky field, and see how it stacks up against the available options.
But first, why would you need to do that? The system itself is portable!
Well, perhaps you’re a road warrior, and would like to be able to play your Switch on the hotel TVs you encounter daily. Or you’re going to a friend’s home that doesn’t have a Switch, and you want to throw some Smash up on the big TV. Maybe you split your time between two houses, or are a student moving back and forth between a dorm and home, and don’t want to lock the docking functionality to one location. There are a bevvy of reasons why you’d want to have a portable dock at hand.
The GENKI line of accessories, created by Human Things, came onto the scene in mid-2018 with their Bluetooth headphone adapter Kickstarter campaign for the Switch. This added much needed wireless headphone functionality via an attractive USB-C dongle to the Switch. Featuring several protocols up to and including the low-latency aptX, this adapter has garnered rave reviews across the wider Nintendo community. I purchased a deluxe kit in the second wave of production, and it has been my constant companion in my national and global travels ever since.
So, when Human Things announced their follow up to the Bluetooth adapter, a product called the “Covert Dock,” I immediately took notice. The concept: a dock for the Switch, built to fit inside a power brick that’s smaller than the OEM charger. Stunning. But could they pull it off?
The Nintendo Switch handles its power delivery in a very non-standardized way. This has caused all manner of issues with third party docks, which have included frying or damaging Switches. Human Things addressed this massive concern by doing a full analysis of the Nintendo Switch’s power delivery (which was picked up by Ars Technica). This breakdown showed how and when the Switch was requesting power and allowed Human Things to engineer a fully electrically-compatible device that can both power and charge your Switch, and serve as a full dock!
The Genki Covert Dock is unassuming. Barely larger than an iPad charge brick, the plug features fold-out prongs, a half and half opaque and translucent casing, and 3 ports on the rear: HDMI, USB-C, and USB-A 3.0. Mine included a very high quality USB-C cable, the worldwide adapters, and a carry pouch (a stretch goal of the campaign). The whole package comes in an attractive, consumer-ready box.
These ports respectively deliver video/audio, power/data, and controller/accessory connections, and it works flawlessly. From my testing, the charge time is on par with a normal Nintendo charger, the video is crisp, clear, and indistinguishable from the stock dock, and the charger only gets slightly warm, which tracks with the OEM charger as well.
Even just as a charger, the Covert dock is a win. It doesn’t block other outlets like the factory charger, and the cable is discrete, allowing for much more compact packing, and the potential to integrate it into a cable organizer, like the one that lives in my backpack. Then you add in the dock functionality, and you have a total game-changer for travel. Of note, this should also work as a charger for Android phones that support USB-PD, adding the ability to output to a monitor, and say, plug a USB keyboard in is like, right there, as an added bonus.
Now, let’s look at the other options out there. There are 3 primary categories: OEM dock, re-cased OEM dock, and third party docks.
The first advantage the GENKI dock has is that it doesn’t need the OEM charger. That’s recommended for any dock use, regardless of the form factor.
The OEM dock is obviously a great product, but it’s not travel friendly at all. It’s massive and not collapsible, but if you want to pull it out of your TV setup and throw it in your bag, it’ll work, flawlessly.
A re-case for an OEM dock is a really solid option. There are third party injection-molded cases available for the dock internal. I’ve been running one of these as my touring dock for the past year and a half, and it works great. The cable placement is a little awkward sometimes, but it delivers the same functionality as the OEM dock, since it is one. The cons with the re-case are: it sacrifices an OEM dock, which is quite pricey, and the way the Switch sits in it isn’t super secure. It can wobble laterally pretty easily, which is a long-term wear concern for the USB-C port on the Switch.
Finally, third party docks, with the offering from NYKO garnering the most attention. These docks had initial issues with their power delivery, and while they have been fixed, carry the same cons as the re-case option. There are plenty of models to choose from here, but some could possibly be made incompatible in the future via firmware updates, as happened with some of the early AliExpress options. The NYKO should be a safe bet going forward, however.
But you still need to carry that charger.
Is the GENKI Covert Dock for everyone? No, of course not, many users will never have a need for it. It’s a luxury for most, but that doesn’t take away from the engineering and quality of the device. Human Things did their homework, took their time, and delivered a quality product. For those of us that do travel, or have any need or desire to play on any TV of our choosing, this compact, slick unit offers an amazing option to have our Switch and dock it, too.
Platform – Nintendo Switch Hardware
Developer – Human Things / GENKI
Price – $74.99
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Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.