There are three basic ways to play with the Switch:

Connected to a TV. Drop the Switch tablet into the dock, pull off the controllers, and you can play to your heart’s content. You can also slide the controllers into the ergonomic holder that Nintendo provides with the Switch (which looks a lot like a dog, for some reason). This makes it easier to play more technical games like Zelda and Mario, but you’ll need to leave the Joy-Cons out of the holder for any game that makes use of their accelerometers, such as 1-2-Switch.

As a handheld device. The Switch also functions as a giant Game Boy when taken out of the dock. You’ll need the two Joy-Cons attached to either side to play games, but the tablet also has a touchscreen, which is super useful for writing out complicated things like email addresses or passwords that are near-impossible to get right with traditional video game controllers.

As a tiny multiplayer console. On the back right side of the Switch tablet, there’s a little pull-out kickstand that lets the console sit on any flat surface. Slide out the Joy-Cons and you’ve got yourself a little console that you can play wherever you are. The controllers also have hidden buttons built into the sides that slide onto the tablet, so you can hand off one to a friend and play two-player games on a single console. You can also slide the controllers into the holder, or pair a second controller (Nintendo is selling duplicate sets of Joy-Cons for $80, or a single “Pro” controller for $70) and play wherever you’d like. If you’re playing a two-player game, you can attach lanyards that Nintendo bundles with the console that also double as additional buttons, and will help make sure you don’t fling your Joy-Cons across the room.

You can also pair a group of Switches together, if you and your friends all want to play the same game, but don’t want to huddle around one tiny machine.

What else?

Battery life. Nintendo says that the battery on the Switch will last about three hours if you’re playing a processor-heavy game like Zelda in tablet mode, but others have reported seeing the battery last up to six hours when playing simpler games.

Storage. The Switch comes with 32 GB of storage built-in, but there’s a Micro SD card slot on the bottom-left of the tablet that allows storage to be expanded up to 2 TB—and cards that large don’t seem to exist yet. (The largest regular SD card you can buy right now is 1 TB.)

Charging. The Switch tablet starts charging the instant it’s dropped into its dock, but you can also charge it from any USB-C cable you happen to have lying around. This is good news for anyone who actually wants to take the Switch with them on vacation, car trips, planes, or anywhere else that it would be inconvenient to bring the whole Switch docking station—just pack a USB-C cable instead.

You can even charge the Switch from a new MacBook Pro (or vice-versa) if you put the Switch to sleep and then plug it in to the laptop.

Resolution. The Switch’s tablet has a screen resolution of 720p, but when connected to a TV through the dock, you can play in 1080p high definition. That being said, some games, including Nintendo’s flagship Zelda launch title, still won’t output in HD, so don’t be surprised if some games look as fuzzy as the ones you played on your Wii a decade ago. And unlike the newest consoles from Sony and Microsoft, the Switch won’t ever output in 4K, even though its processor can actually handle it.

Playing online. From today, the Switch will only have limited access to the internet. There’s no web browser, and to play against friends online right now, you have to manually enter personalized 12-digit codes for each user in each game you want to play. In the future, Nintendo will have easier ways of connecting with friends online, such as being able to link a Facebook account to your Nintendo account and search through Facebook friends, but for now, the process remains exceedingly laborious.

Don’t lick the cartridges. Not that you should be doing this anyway if you’re a normal human being, but Nintendo coated the Switch game cartridges in a foul bittering agent that’s intended to stop children who might put the cartridges in their mouths and choke on them from swallowing them.

Should you get one?

I’ve been playing with the Switch for about a week, but the review unit didn’t have access to the eShop, and the only game I had to play was Zelda, which I’m terrible at and I don’t think highlights the potential of this system. I’ll be writing a more full review of the console now that the eShop is live and I can play a few more games, but my initial reaction is that the Switch is a great piece of hardware that has the potential to be as big for Nintendo as the original Wii was.

If you want the latest and greatest Nintendo console right now (and if you’re a big Zelda or Bomberman fan), go pick one up, but if you want to casually play Mario Kart, Super Mario, or any of the other games generally associated with Nintendo systems, wait a few months.

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