I loved the Nintendo Switch on review for T3.com, with the Big N's portable console winning me over with a strong combination of high build quality, lots of style, and a refreshing commitment to local multiplayer gaming.
If there were two things that I thought were less than ideal, though, then it was the system's battery life and its vanilla dock.
The system's battery isn't poor, sure, but it cannot realistically deliver more than a 2-3 hours of play time when it is tasked with running graphically intensive titles. Now this is fine for sure if you are, say, just using the system while commuting to work and back on the bus, but when it comes round to prolonged trips where plugging the system in will not be easy or possible, then its limitation becomes far more apparent.
Equally, the official Nintendo Switch dock, while far from a dud, is certainly not the most well-designed and premium piece of kit. Sliding the Switch in and out can be pain and due to a pretty functionless front plate, and it doesn't let you see the screen either when connected, either. Yes, there is the recently announced Adjustable Charging Stand for Nintendo Switch, but that doesn't offer any internal battery charging.
As such, when the Venom Power Pack and Stand for Nintendo Switch was announced back in March I was keen to go hands on with the product to see if it was all that it is cracked up to be. What follows are my thoughts on this portable Switch dock and charger.
Venom Power Pack and Stand review: price, availability, and what's in the box?
Open the Venom Power Pack and Stand box and you are presented with the charging stand itself, ensconced within a protective plastic tray, as well as a short USB to micro-USB cable.
Venom Power Pack and Stand review: design and build
The first thing you notice when you get the Venom Power Pack and Stand in the hand is that it feels like a well made product. Many gaming accessories feel light and plasticky in the hand, but this product feels solid, and especially so when the Nintendo Switch is slotted inside.
In terms of design, the Venom Power Pack and Stand has a smooth matte black finish that delivers a diffused light sheen in most environments. On the back of the stand there are two locking mechanism switches, which when placed in an unlocked position, allow the top frame of the charging stand to rise to allow easy insertion and extraction of the console. The top frame also features a cooling vent.
Also on the rear there is a brace of kickstand legs, which feel like larger versions of the one included on the Switch itself, as well as a series of cool blue LED charge level lights which indicate how full the Power Pack's 10,000 mAh battery is. There is also a cooling vent.
On the side of the Power Pack and Stand there is a USB charging port for use with the bundled USB charging cable (so you can plug in auxiliary devices to be charged via the accessory's battery), as well as Nintendo Switch AC port for charging its battery between usage sessions.
Lastly, in terms of design, the Power Pack and Stand features clear and open cutouts for all console buttons, although, quite oddly, not a cutout for the console's headphone jack.
Also, I feel it important to note here that this dock does not allow for a HDMI cable to be plugged in for use with a TV.
Venom Power Pack and Stand review: features and performance
I used the Venom Power Pack and Stand for Nintendo Switch both in handheld mode and in kickstand mode and, I've got to say, I liked both experiences.
In the hand the Power Pack and Stand adds a pleasing weight to the console, without being too heavy or cumbersome, and once inserted, the Nintendo Switch is held absolutely rock solid by the system's frame and locking mechanisms.
The case is also more streamlined than you think at first, and I had no issue at all sticking it in my bag (both on its own, and with the Switch inserted) while commuting. Also, thanks to the spacious cutouts, swapping game cartridges, altering volume levels and turning the system off and on was also very easy.
As mentioned above, though, the one thing that I immediately noticed about the Power Pack and Stand when using it this way was that I could not plug my headphones in to the console as the headphone jack is covered by case.
This wasn't too much of an issue when I was playing while lounging on my sofa, as I could just use the console's speakers, however, while travelling to London and back on the train it led me to play in silence, as I'm sure my fellow passengers would of soon got sick of Mario's cries of "Woo hoo!".
Arguably, the Venom Power Pack and Stand really comes into its own though when using it in kickstand mode. The kickstand legs on the stand are much, much sturdier than the stock one on the Switch and, in partnership with the case's large internal battery, this meant I could play with my Pro controller for hours upon hours in comfort without having to worry about the battery dropping out.
And, on that note, the real star attraction of this product is without doubt its large 10,000 mAH rechargeable internal battery. To put that extra 10,000 mAh of battery in context, the Nintendo Switch comes packing a 4,310 mAh battery, so with a fully charged Venom Power Pack and Stand in play, you basically triple your potential game time, which is something that allowed me to simply keep the Switch in my bag from day to day rather than religiously plugging it back into the mains each night.
Instead, by using the Nintendo Power Pack and Stand, those recharge sessions became far less frequent and I found myself not suffering from battery anxiety anywhere near as much.
Venom Power Pack and Stand review: verdict
I got on really well with the Venom Power Pack and Stand for Nintendo Switch. It does everything it says it will, which is to provide a well-made, stylish and functional portable charging dock with kickstand that securely holds and charges the Big N's popular portable console.
The extra battery life granted is very, very welcome - especially when eating through the Switch's when playing a graphically demanding game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey - and the kickstand and auxiliary device charging are useful extra features as well.
As I mentioned above, I am still a little puzzled as to why the casing doesn't have a headphone jack hole, though. One of the weakest aspects of the Switch is its speakers, which are tinny and lack bass, so I typically like to plug in a quality pair of wired headphones when playing on the go. And the simple matter of fact here is that when the Nintendo Switch is encased in the Venom Power Pack and Stand that is not possible.
A deal-breaker? No, I don't think so, and if Nintendo offered wireless Bluetooth pairing then it wouldn't be an issue at all, but it is definitely something to consider before you flash your cash. Maybe those users in favour of a mod or two could look into drilling their own hole…
Overall, though, I was impressed with the Power Pack and Stand and it helps continue to elevate Venom's reputation as a quality accessory maker.
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For more information about the Venom Power Pack and Stand for Nintendo Switch then check out the product's official web page.