Nintendo is advising owners of its Switch console to stick with the company’s own docking station for the gaming device and beware of third-party alternatives. Since the Switch’s launch a year ago, a number of companies have produced docks that plug into televisions and let you play on a big screen. Some are smaller and sleeker than Nintendo’s own, which makes them more appealing if you’re traveling. They’re often far less expensive than the $70 dock and $90 dock set sold by Nintendo.
But trusting your $300 Nintendo Switch to a third-party dock seems like a questionable idea that comes with a significant amount of risk. People who’ve bought Nyko’s third-party dock, in particular, have reported a range of problems. Some Switch devices permanently stop recharging, while others get stuck in a boot loop or go blank and are bricked completely after being used with them. Not everyone meets these unexpected consequences, but there are enough angry reviews on retailer websites and frustrated Reddit posts to convince yourself it’s worth spending a bit extra for Nintendo’s licensed product. Other unlicensed docks like this one from Insignia have better reviews, but you can still find cases of them not working properly.
As Kotaku notes, reports of damaged consoles seem to have ramped up after Nintendo recently updated the Switch to software version 5.0. Here’s a big Reddit thread on the current lay of the land. “Unlicensed products and accessories do not undergo Nintendo’s testing and evaluation process,” the company told Kotaku in a statement. “They might not work at all with our game systems, and they could have compatibility problems with certain games, the Nintendo Switch system itself, and other licensed accessories and peripherals.” That blanket statement doesn’t address docks specifically, but you get the point.
These issues aren’t new to the latest software, though; the main Nintendo Switch Reddit regularly sees PSAs from people encouraging others to avoid their fate (and lost game saves) by steering clear of these off-brand docks. Nintendo is aggressively trying to maintain the Switch’s security and keep out modders. When you mix that with third-party products and the dicey state of all things USB-C, yeah... we’re in for some headaches.
Hopefully things smooth out in year two and the smoke from bricked / overheated Switches will clear away for an affordable, take-anywhere dock we can confidently recommend.