If you wanted a quality Nintendo Switch docking station you could actually slip into a pocket, the $70 Genki Covert Dock was your best bet — 30W of USB-C power, 1080p60 HDMI output, and a USB 3.1 port for peripherals all stuffed into a tiny folding prong charger thanks to the power of GaN.
But now, its makers are making the choice a bit more difficult — with a new $49 Genki Covert Dock Mini (via Gizmodo) that’s way smaller, adds 4K30 output, and unfortunately makes a couple of sacrifices along the way.
At 1.7 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches, the Covert Dock Mini is only slightly bigger than the tiny 5W chargers that Apple used to ship with iPhones (which admittedly didn’t have folding prongs or GaN), and it’s just half the length of the original Covert Dock and barely over a third of its volume.
And, it newly supports 4K output at 30Hz, which — while obviously not being anywhere near as useful as 4K output at 60Hz — does seem like a nice perk considering you’re paying $20 less. As Genki points out, it might come in handy for the Steam Deck or similar handhelds, which may not have the power to play all games at 4K60 anyways. Or for movies and TV, which aren’t generally shot at 60fps and so don’t require the higher framerate.
Unfortunately, it also outputs only 20W of USB-C power — not 30W anymore — and while that’s fine for today’s Switch, I highly doubt you’ll be playing and charging a Steam Deck at the same time with any remotely intensive game that way. I used a 20W USB-C PD battery in my own Deck testing and found it didn’t charge particularly well unless the Deck was turned off. There’s a reason Valve ships it with a 45W PD power adapter.
Also, the Mini sadly doesn’t ship with a USB-A port, meaning you’re not going to be plugging in a GameCube controller adapter for your Smash Bros. sessions on Switch, or an Ethernet adapter, or a wireless headphone dongle, or external storage for the Deck, or... you get the picture.
But if this sounds like exactly the docking station you need, Genki’s currently taking “limited” preorders at this Indiegogo page with an estimated delivery of August 2022.
Update, 8:10PM ET: The Indiegogo page is now showing deliveries in October 2022 instead of August, and no longer shows a “limited” number of preorders available.
A note on crowdfunding:
Crowdfunding is a chaotic field by nature: companies looking for funding tend to make big promises. According to a study run by Kickstarter in 2015, roughly 1 in 10 “successful” products that reach their funding goals fail to actually deliver rewards. Of the ones that do deliver, delays, missed deadlines, or overpromised ideas mean that there’s often disappointment in store for those products that do get done.
The best defense is to use your best judgment. Ask yourself: does the product look legitimate? Is the company making outlandish claims? Is there a working prototype? Does the company mention existing plans to manufacture and ship finished products? Has it completed a Kickstarter before? And remember: you’re not necessarily buying a product when you back it on a crowdfunding site.