Friday afternoons growing up meant a trip to the video store. It was an utter thrill, like a little weekly Christmas, where my mom would turn my sister and me loose among the laminated, empty VHS boxes to pick out something to rent for the weekend. And as a rare treat, she would sometimes relent to our whining and let us take home the Holy Grail of rentals: a Sega console. A teenage Video Update employee would retrieve it for us and make sure that the controllers and cords were all accounted for in a massive, nuclear-code-style suitcase.
That’s what carrying an entire game console looked like in 1993. Things are a little different now. A few weeks ago, I packed our game console to take it along on a family vacation. This time, it all fit into a couple of clutch-sized cases that I could easily put in my purse, thanks to one of my favorite little gadgets of the year: the Genki Covert Dock Mini. I packed it up with our Switch, a Pro controller, and a few cords. And just like that, we had a whole-ass TV gaming console ready for our trip to the Washington coast.
Technically, the Switch itself is a console. I know this. But have you tried to play Breath of the Wild in handheld mode after experiencing it on the big screen? It sucks. Plus, our Switch’s Joy-Con drift is so bad it’s barely playable. Oh, and the proprietary, Nintendo-made dock you’re supposed to use with the Switch? Ours is cursed.
Some interaction between our TV and the dock caused our Switch to slowly fail in the winter of 2019. I spent hours troubleshooting the problem, with different display settings on both the Switch and the TV, different cables, and a different TV. I went deep into Nintendo support pages that even the customer support person I talked to hadn’t seen. Nintendo eventually “fixed” our Switch out of warranty (sent us a replacement console), but the emotional damage was done, and I lost all trust in our dock.
For a while, this meant I only used the Switch to play Animal Crossing, which is tolerable with wayward controls and isn’t that much better on the big screen. But that got boring, and I was itching to play BotW again. With a trip coming up that would certainly involve a downtime indoors in our rented condo, I now had two reasons to invest in the Genki dock that I’d been eyeing.
The Genki “dock” is laughably small — small enough that the padded envelope it arrived in was delivered to our mailbox rather than the front door. It’s truly only a little bigger than the 5W AC adapter that came with my last iPhone. It effectively replaces the function of the much bigger Switch dock, providing power to the console and a display connection to a TV. The Mini edition comes with a lower 20W power supply than the bigger 30W Genki dock, so it’s less useful if you want it to multitask as a hub for other, power hungrier devices, but I don’t care about that. It’s also $50 rather than $75.
Remembering our Sega-in-a-suitcase days, I wiped a joyful tear from my eye as I packed it into a zippered pouch along with a controller. The Switch, dock, and accoutrement all made the journey to our destination in my luggage, taking up less space than my toiletries. At our beachside condo, we plugged it all in, and in a matter of minutes, we were running through Hyrule looting Bokoblin camps while it rained sideways outside in the real world.
Back at home, it’s taken over as our full-time dock. With any luck, it will remain uncursed, and we can spend the rest of the dark, cold months ahead basking in the glow of our Switch games on the TV once again. And that’s almost as thrilling as a Friday afternoon at the video store.