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Computing

LG’s first OLED gaming monitor matches its smart TVs in price

LG has finally revealed the price for its LG UltraGear 48GQ900 OLED gaming monitor and made it available for pre-order, three months after its initial March announcement.

The monitor appears to be available only in the U.K. at the moment, where it will sell exclusively at Overclockers UK for 1,400 pounds ($1,724). The peripheral stands as LG’s first OLED gaming monitor, and is priced comparably to the LG C2 Smart OLED TV in the U.K. NotebookCheck pointed out.

The 48-inch UltraGear 48GQ900 is LG’s first OLED gaming monitor.

The availability of the gaming monitor outside of the U.K. remains unknown.

In comparison, the LG C2 Smart OLED TV sells for $1,400 in its 42-inch option in the U.S., however, it also comes in 48-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch options, which quickly exceed that price. OLED panels are much more common in the TV market, and the LG C2 series uses advanced OLED evo panels, the publication added.

The LG UltraGear 48GQ900 features a 47.5-inch panel with a 4K 3,840 x 2,160 resolution and a 120Hz minimum refresh rate, which can be overclocked to 138Hz. There is still no word on what kind of OLED technology is being used on the monitor, which is still not overly expensive given its size.

Traditional OLED is known as an expensive technology, which is likely why its rollout to monitors has been so slow and many brands have opted for cheaper alternatives. The popular Alienware 34 monitor sells for just $1,300 and features a Samsung QD-OLED panel, for example.

Other specs for the monitor include a 10-bit panel, HDR support, an antiglare coating, 1-millisecond gray-to-gray response time, a DCI-P3 color gamut with 98.5% coverage, built-in speakers, and a purple design in the rear. It also features two additional HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, and a headphone jack, as well as AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility.

There is no word on an exact release date for the LG UltraGear 48GQ900, however, Overclockers U.K. said it expects to receive stock in the August time frame.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

LG newest gaming monitor is a 48-inch OLED behemoth

LG has just announced the upcoming release of three exciting new monitors, including a real treat for those who like to game on a large screen: A 48-inch OLED gaming monitor.

Aside from LG’s first OLED display made for gamers, there are also 4K Nano IPS and QHD Nano IPS monitors to choose from.

LG

LG’s new UltraGear lineup includes the following models: 32GQ950, 32GQ850, and 48GQ900. As you can see, two of them sport a 32-inch screen, while one is an enormous 48-inch beast. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a first for LG, because it’s the brand’s first UltraGear OLED gaming monitor.

All three of the monitors share a similar aesthetic that brings e-sports to mind with its sharp angles. The bezels are fairly thin, although the two 32-inchers have a considerably wider bottom bezel. Another thing they all have in common is that they all offer access to HDMI 2.1 connectivity, and by extension, features such as a variable refresh rate (VRR) as well as 4K gaming.

Each of the new LG UltraGears is compatible with Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium, but the 32-inch models support FreeSync Premium Pro. In addition, each of the monitors has a headphone jack with support for surround sound DTS Headphone:X, so you can plug in a headset as you game. However, most people will still prefer to simply plug the headphones directly into the PC or console.

Let’s start with the most impressive entry of this lineup, and that, undoubtedly, is the 48GQ900 — a 48-inch 4K gaming monitor with an OLED panel as well as 120Hz refresh rates and a 0.1ms response time. The 120Hz refresh rate can be brought up to 138Hz by overclocking.

Being an OLED monitor, the screen has the potential to deliver beautiful colors and deep contrasts. LG tops it off with an anti-glare low reflection coating. If you want a large-scale immersive gaming experience, it sounds like this UltraGear screen could be the choice for you, but LG hasn’t revealed its price yet. One thing is almost certain — it won’t come cheap.

LG UltraGear monitors announced at Computex 2022.
LG

Moving on to the two 32-inch (or more precisely, 31.5-inch) monitors, they share the same size and panel type: Nano IPS, as well as the same 1ms response time. Unlike the larger model, they have more flexible stands, which means they can pivot and they are tilt as well as height adjustable.

The UltraGear 32GQ950 gives you access to 4K gaming with its 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. It’s also LG’s first model to implement ATW Polarizer technology. LG teases that using this tech will ensure stunning colors, deep blacks, and strong contrasts, all across a wide viewing angle. The monitor is VESA Display HDR 1000 certified, meaning its brightness peaks at 1,000 nits. The refresh rate is slightly higher than on the 48-inch model, bringing 144Hz that can be overclocked up to 160Hz.

Lastly, we have the 32GQ850, and although it has a few things in common with its sibling, you’ll also note a few key changes. This is a QHD monitor with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution that brings the refresh rates up by a considerable amount, peaking at 260Hz when overclocked. The brightness is toned down from the other 32-inch screen, seeing as this one is VESA DisplayHDR 600 certified.

LG hasn’t talked about the pricing yet, but it has announced an approximate release date. The monitors will first hit the market in Japan starting this month. Markets in North America, Europe, and Asia are to follow at an undetermined time, but it probably won’t be too long before they start climbing the rankings of the best gaming monitors.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

You can now buy a Switch OLED dock without a Switch OLED

Nintendo has started selling docks for Switch OLED units separately in North America. According to Nintendo Life, the gaming giant revealed the dock would be sold as a standalone item when the OLED Switch was launched. And it has been available in European stores since the beginning of December, but now you can also get one in the US and Canada. While you can use the OLED model with the dock for the standard Switch, the one designed for it comes with a very important addition: An ethernet/LAN port.

In case your home internet isn’t as fast as you’d like it to be, and you’d benefit greatly from a wired connection, the new dock may work better for your needs. You’d have to have or buy your own LAN/ethernet cable, though, since the dock doesn’t come with one. It also doesn’t include an AC Adapter and an HDMI cable, but it can receive software updates. 

You can snap up a dock from Nintendo’s store in the US or in Canada for $70. The unit will ship with a standard white panel, which we found flimsy and prone to being lost in our review. But you can get a back cover in black or get another white one as a replacement part from Nintendo’s website for $6.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Game

Our First Look at Google Stadia on an LG CX OLED TV

There is nothing more frustrating than opening up a new toy, only to find that it doesn’t work. Such was the case — at first — when I installed Google’s Stadia cloud gaming app on a 2020 LG CX OLED television.

The news peg, as we say in the business, is that Stadia has been spreading to more and more devices. And it’s now available natively on LG televisions that have the webOS 5.0 or the newer webOS 6.0 software. You don’t need a Chromecast. You don’t need to run more wires or Ethernet cable. You just download the app from the LG Content Store, and fire away.

Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

The truly exciting part about all this is that you can play Stadia games without having to download gigabytes of data before being able to do anything at all. No operating system updates. No game updates. You just connect your Google account to Stadia, connect a controller of some sort to Stadia, and it just works. It truly is incredible and is far more likely to get a non-gamer like myself to spend a few hours shooting things. (I’m told there are games that don’t involve shooting, or swordplay, or dragons or some sort — but why would you play them?) And LG televisions in particular are exciting for video games thanks to their 120Hz refresh rate. Being able to play Stadia games natively? It’s icing on an already sweet cake.

So I installed. And I connected. And I, jaded journo that I am, was unsurprised to see unplayable lag at first. These things happen, of course, and it’s all part of testing things.

So far @GoogleStadia on an LG TV … ain’t great. Guess I’ll try Ethernet and see if that helps. pic.twitter.com/54VIPRy2I7

— Phil (@philnickinson) December 8, 2021

Have you turned it off and on?

Perhaps it was my wireless network. Never mind the fact that I’ve got Wi-Fi 6, and the TV itself handles Wi-Fi 5 — both of which are more than capable of streaming Stadia games. (And that’s before I got anywhere near the Stadia Pro subscription, which gives you 4K resolution and HDR and 5.1 surround sound, all of which require more data.) So into the network closet I went, extracting a length of Category 5 cable and plugging the TV into my switch, all proper like. After all, what’s the point of having a fiber in the home if you’re not actually able to take advantage of those gigabit speeds.

Related:

Still nothing. The lag, it burns. Maybe a second of video and audio before things cut out for another second. Rinse and repeat. It was unwatchable, never mind unplayable. Early reports on Reddit also had a few folks saying the same thing. Whether we were having the same problem remains to be seen. And it didn’t seem to be something more systemic.

The next step in the troubleshooting process also should be the first one — reboot and restart. First, the router. Then the Stadia controller itself. Finally, the TV.

If you’re expecting more outrage at this point, dear reader, you’ll be disappointed. After reconnecting the Stadia controller to the LG TV’s Stadia app, all was well. Games “loaded” — again, there’s really nothing loaded on your TV save for the Stadia app itself — immediately. Video was as fluid as it’s ever been. The LG CX handles 4K resolution just fine.

In other words, it was a wholly unremarkable experience, which is precisely the point. It just worked.

Eventually.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook Review: OLED For Cheap

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook

MSRP $500.00

“The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook brings OLED goodness to a surprisingly cheap 2-in-1.”

Pros

  • Acceptable productivity performance
  • Very long battery life
  • Excellent display
  • Solid build quality
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Display is in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Limited to Wi-Fi 5
  • Kickstand add-on is inconvenient

Chromebooks don’t often beat Windows to market when it comes to implementing new technologies, but Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook did just that. It’s the first detachable tablet with an OLED display, hitting the market just before the Asus Vivobook 13 Slate that marks the first Windows 11 detachable tablet sporting OLED technology. The IdeaPad Duet 5 is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, an ARM chip, giving it another first. It’s a larger tablet, but it’s nevertheless an alternative to other low-cost devices like the Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface Go 3.

I reviewed the midrange configuration of the IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, running $500 and including the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 and a 13.3-inch 1080p OLED display. I found the tablet to punch well above its price, representing one of the best 2-in-1 tablets at this price.

Design

The Asus ZenBook 14X OLED in its case.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The first thing you’ll notice about the IdeaPad Duet 5, if you look closely enough, is that its display is in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio. The laptop world is moving toward taller displays, 16:10 or 3:2, which is particularly useful in tablets that more closely mimic a standard sheet of paper in portrait mode. A 16:9 tablet, by comparison, is longer and skinnier, making it less comfortable for viewing documents and taking notes with a pen.

The IdeaPad Duet 5’s bezels are small on the sides and slightly thicker on the top and bottom. They’re not huge by tablet standards, and the IdeaPad Duet 5 is reasonably sized given the display. Compared to its closest Windows 11 competitor, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 with its 13-inch 3:2 display, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is almost an inch wider, but the Surface Pro 8 is nearly an inch taller.

Microsoft’s tablet is thicker at 0.37 inches compared to the IdeaPad Duet 5’s 0.28 inches, but the Surface Pro 8 has its kickstand built in — more on that a moment. Of course, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is significantly larger than the Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface Go, which are built around 10.2-inch and 10.5-inch displays respectively. If you can stand the size, then the Lenovo is a viable competitor.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is another competitive tablet with a 12.3-inch 3:2 display, and it’s roughly the same size as the Surface Pro 8, thanks to the latter’s smaller bezels. In terms of weight, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is 1.54 pounds for the tablet alone, compared to the Surface Pro 8 at 1.96 pounds and the ThinkPad X12 Detachable at 1.67 pounds. The IdeaPad Duet 5 isn’t a small tablet by any means, but it’s manageable. You’d save about half a pound going with Apple or Microsoft’s smallest tablets.

Closeup on the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED kickstand.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Now about that kickstand. Like the HP Chromebook x2 11, the IdeaPad Duet 5’s kickstand is an add-on that snaps onto the tablet’s back and is held in place by powerful magnets. That makes the tablet thicker and is inconvenient — it’s another thing to carry around. The Surface Pro 8 and ThinkPad X12 Detachable are much more pleasant to use with their built-in kickstand, although the IdeaPad Duet 5’s version works just as well. It, too, holds the tablet vertically without any wobble, and it extends just as far, to where the tablet is almost lying flat on a surface. If you don’t mind another piece to fiddle with, then you’ll be fine with the IdeaPad Duet 5’s version. And let’s not forget that this is a $500 tablet while the Lenovo and Microsoft versions are more than twice as expensive fully configured.

The IdeaPad Duet 5 is crafted of plastic, with the top portion of the back being a soft-coated version. It feels solid enough in hand, and your first hint that it’s not made of a metal alloy like the other laptops I’ve mentioned is that it’s not as cold to the touch after it’s been asleep for a while. Unless you have a thing against plastic devices, that’s not a real knock against the IdeaPad Duet 5 — especially given its price.

Aesthetically, the tablet is a dark grey (Storm Grey) or blue (Abyss Blue) slab with just the two-tone portion on the back giving it some panache. Minimalist designs are pretty much the standard for tablets, though, with the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable having the most exotic look.

Connectivity is limited to two USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one on either side of the tablet — either can be used for charging — and a pogo pin connector for the detachable keyboard. That’s it. And yes, Lenovo left off a 3.5mm audio jack. That’s a huge bummer in my book, and it’s the first tablet I know of that’s dropped the connection.

You’ll be limited to Bluetooth headphones, which I consider a liability. Speaking of wireless connectivity, the Snapdragon chipset limits the tablet to Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1. There’s no option for always-connected internet as there is with the HP Chromebook x2 11.

Performance

Asus ZenBook 14X OLED open on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebooks uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 system-on-chip (SoC), a slightly updated version of the same ARM processor used in the HP Chromebook x2 11. As far as I can tell, the only significant difference is a tiny speed bump from 2.4GHz to 2.55GHz. Unsurprisingly, I found the IdeaPad Duet 5 to perform a lot like the Chromebook x2 11. That is to say, the ARM CPU was able to keep up with Chrome OS as long as I didn’t have too many tabs open in Chrome or too many Android apps running in the background. I’m sure that the 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage had something to do with that.

We don’t have our full suite of benchmarks available with Chromebooks, but in the Android Geekbench 5 app, the IdeaPad Duet 5 scored 599 in single-core mode and 1,718 in multi-core mode. That’s just the tiniest bit faster than the Chromebook x2 11’s 590 and 1,689. It’s well behind faster Chromebooks like the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 which runs a Core i5-1115G4 that scored 1,209 and 2,849 and the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 with a Core i5-1135G7 that achieved 1,190 and 4,151. The IdeaPad Duet 5’s score on the Speedometer 2.0 web benchmark was 47, just ahead of the Chromebook x2 11’s 45. By comparison, the Chromebook Flip CX5 hit 163.

Overall, you’ll be fine with the IdeaPad Duet 5’s performance as long as your productivity workflow isn’t too demanding. As I said, with a reasonable number of tabs and Android apps open, the tablet performed just fine. Exceed that amount, though, and things did start to get noticeably slower. And limit yourself to casual Android games — Asphalt 9, the Android game I use to test Chromebooks, was choppy and demonstrated considerable lag when I tried to run it on the IdeaPad Duet 5. An Apple iPad will run iPad OS games more fluidly, making it a more viable gaming tablet.

Display

Closeup on the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

From the moment I turned on the IdeaPad Duet 5, I could tell there was something different. OLED displays are so much more dynamic and eye-catching than IPS displays, and the 13.3-inch Full HD version on the IdeaPad Duet 5 is no exception. The colors were pleasant and natural, the contrast was deep with inky blacks, and the display was more than bright enough for all my working environments.

My two complaints start with its 16:9 aspect ratio, which, as I mentioned earlier, isn’t nearly as functional in portrait mode than 16:10 and 3:2 displays, and it also seemed squashed. It’s not a deal-breaker — there are plenty of 16:9 laptops and tablets still being made today — but it’s less than ideal. Next, the Full HD resolution was just okay at the 13.3-inch display size. A sharper screen would have helped, particularly regarding text, and while black text on a white background popped, they did so with some pixels. A higher-resolution display would also have been welcome, but for $500, it’s hard to complain.

Closeup on the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED display without keyboard attachment.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Despite this, most users will love this display. Even creative types who want a Chromebook for viewing photos and videos will love the colors and contrast. This display will please all but the pickiest pixel-peepers and those who use a pen to take lots of notes.

Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t live up to the display, despite sporting four side-firing speakers. To begin with, there’s not a ton of volume, even when turned all the way up, and worse yet, there’s distortion that strips out what little bass is there and creates a very tinny sound. Mids and highs are clear with the volume at about half, but the bass is lacking. Overall, you’ll want to use Bluetooth headphones or speakers for anything other than system sounds and the occasional YouTube video.

Keyboard and touchpad

Lenovo includes a detachable keyboard with the IdeaPad Duet 5, and it’s the same basic design as most such keyboards — with one exception. It attaches to the tablet via magnets and connects via pogo pins, but unlike most keyboards, it doesn’t have the option to prop it up at an angle. You’re stuck using it lying flat, which isn’t nearly as comfortable. There’s plenty of key spacing thanks to the 13.3-inch display and the width it provides, and the keycaps are large and comfortable. The switches provide plenty of travel and have snappy bottoming action. The keyboard feels great — if only Lenovo would have built in an angle.

The touchpad is also good, of sufficient size to be comfortable using the Chrome OS suite of multitouch gestures. The surface is comfortable for swiping, and the buttons have a nice click without being too loud. The display is touch-enabled, of course, and it supports an optional Lenovo active pen. One wasn’t provided with my review unit, so I couldn’t test inking with the IdeaPad Duet 5.

Battery life

OLED displays can sometimes be the kiss of death when it comes to battery life. But that’s primarily because most OLED laptops use 4K resolution. The IdeaPad Duet 5 uses a 1080p screen and combines that with a low-power Snapdragon processor. It also packed in 42 watt-hours of battery, a reasonable amount for this size device — and more than the HP Chromebook x2 11’s 32 watt-hours. I was very curious to see how long the detachable tablet would last on a charge.

I was pleasantly surprised. In our web browsing test that cycles through a series of popular and demanding websites, the IdeaPad Duet 5 lasted for 15.5 hours — an excellent score that beat the Chromebook x2 11’s 12.75 hours. The 10.1-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, with its 27 watt-hour battery and MediaTek Helio P60T ARM processor, lasted about 13 hours. In our video test that loops a local 1080p movie trailer, the IdeaPad Duet 5 made it to a whopping 21.75 hours — one of the longest-lasting devices we’ve tested. It trounced the Chromebook x2 11’s 11 hours and the IdeaPad Duet’s 12.5 hours.

Simply put, the IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook will last you through well over a day’s work, while leaving some time left over for binging Netflix. Chromebooks running ARM CPUs should have excellent battery life, and the IdeaPad Duet 5 lives up to that promise.

Our take

At $500, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is an excellent value. You get good enough productivity performance and outstanding battery life. The OLED display looks great too, even if it’s not perfect.

Anyone looking for a Chrome tablet on the cheap that they can use for their web browsing, email triage, and media consumption will find that the IdeaPad Duet 5 is a great choice.

Are there any alternatives?

The HP Chromebook x2 11 is a close alternative, sporting almost the same CPU and a very similar performance. At the same time, its display is good but not as great, and its battery life lags. You can also get it for $100 less, albeit with half the storage.

Another option is the Microsoft Surface Go 3. It’s a Windows 11 laptop, and it’s smaller, but its build quality and performance are just as good and it has its own excellent display. It’s more expensive when you add in the cost of the keyboard, but it’s worth it as well.

Finally, the Apple iPad is a good tablet to consider, although it too is quite a bit smaller. You’ll want to stick with the $329 entry-level model or risk spending a lot more. But it’s faster thanks to a speedier ARM CPU and a highly optimized OS, and it has a great display. It’s also thin, light, and well-built.

How long will it last?

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook might be made of plastic, but that doesn’t mean it won’t provide years of service. You’ll get plenty of performance out of Chrome OS for some time as well. The one-year warranty is fine for a $500 laptop.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 is fast enough for the price, making it a long-lasting secondary device with a beautiful display for consuming media. It’s the best tablet you’ll find for the money.




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Computing

MSI Announces a Monster 55-Inch OLED Gaming Monitor

MSI announced the upcoming launch of two gaming monitors, both of which bring something new to the market.

The first screen has a curved mini-LED display with a 165Hz refresh rate that promises excellent color reproduction thanks to a number of technologies, including MSI’s own premium quantum dot films. The second display is a massive 55-inch OLED monitor directed at console gamers.

The curved monitor, dubbed MSI MEG Artymis 341, marks an industry first with its sharp curvature combined with mini-LED backlighting. It meets the VESA Display HDR 1000 requirements, supporting at least HDR10 high dynamic range content and achieving a brightness of at least 1,000 nits at peak luminance.

MEG Artymis 341 has a 34-inch screen with a native resolution of 3440 x 1440 and a 21:9 aspect ratio. The technology used in its creation lends itself to producing a wide color range and a high-quality image. It features a combination of Optronics adaptive mini-LED technology, full-array local dimming (FALD) based on mini-LED backlighting, and MSI’s quantum dot premium films.

The above specs certainly should contribute to a fantastic viewing experience. The monitor is likely to provide high contrasts, deep blacks, and high brightness. The superior imagery should come at no expense to gaming, as the MSI MEG Artymis also has a 165Hz refresh rate and a response time of 1 milliseconds. The screen also features a rather sharp 1000R arc curvature and an 800R center curvature.

MSI hasn’t revealed any further details about its new curved display, such as whether it will swivel, pivot, or have an adjustable stand.

MSI's new OLED gaming monitor.

MSI has another ace up its sleeve that’s also directed at gamers — although this one seems to be aimed at console gaming rather than PC. The MSI MEG 551U OLED is the company’s upcoming 55-inch OLED monitor for the gaming sector. Featuring a very large and wide screen, it promises high image quality for those who enjoy gaming on huge displays.

Both of these screens are directed at the premium sector. The curved model seems to combine everything most users wish to see in one of the best gaming monitors — fantastic image quality and high refresh rates. This combination makes it suited for both fast-paced shooters and immersive RPGs.

The pricing of these new monitors hasn’t been announced just yet, but it’s clear that they may not be cheap. MSI teased that both the screens will be available for sale sometime in 2022.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Nintendo Switch OLED Review – SlashGear

It’s safe to say that the Switch OLED is not what most people had in mind when it became clear that Nintendo was revealing a new Switch model. After rumors of a 4K Switch took hold, the Switch OLED was probably doomed to never live up to the hype, but still, most of us were expecting a more significant upgrade than this. Yet, the Switch OLED arrived anyway, and with somewhere in the area of 90 million consoles sold already, the big question has to be whether or not it’s worth upgrading for current Switch owners.

The answer, unfortunately, is a firm no – in most cases, at least. That isn’t to say that the Switch OLED is a bad console – in fact, if you’re in the market for your first Switch, this is probably the one you want to go for. But for current Switch owners, there’s so little here to warrant an upgrade.

Whether or not you decide to upgrade ultimately depends on how much of a handheld enthusiast you are. Do you play games mostly (or even exclusively) in handheld mode? Do you want those games to look as good as they possibly can even though actual graphics fidelity won’t be getting a boost? If so, then maybe an upgrade is worth it.

It might feel like I’m being pretty negative about the Switch OLED, but I actually like the console a lot. I’m always a big fan of diminishing bezels, for starters, and the Switch OLED definitely has those. The thick borders surrounding the standard Switch’s 6.2-inch display have shrunk considerably, leaving us with a 7-inch display that fits in a console that’s more or less the same size as its predecessor (though ever-so-slightly longer and heavier).

You wouldn’t think that makes a big difference, but it does. Not only is the screen bigger, but it’s more colorful and offers better picture quality since it’s an OLED panel. The display on the Switch OLED is beautiful, and as someone who has gravitated more toward playing the Switch on a TV as the novelty of a portable console has worn off, the Switch OLED makes me want to go back to playing primarily in handheld mode.

Certain aspects of the Switch have been improved as well, though functionally, they aren’t game-changers. The kickstand that spans the entire back of the Switch OLED is a huge improvement over the flimsy stand we get on the standard Switch, and even though that is exciting, I have to wonder how many tabletop mode fans there are who will truly put this new kickstand to good use. Perhaps there’ll be more now that the kickstand seems reliable? In any case, the stand can also open further for a variety of different viewing angles, and that’s nice to see. After all, it doesn’t hurt to have options, even if those options may rarely be used in the grand scheme.

One area where the Switch improves on its predecessor is in its onboard speakers. Nintendo touts that the speakers have been improved for better sound while the Switch OLED is used in tabletop or handheld mode, and to my ear, they do indeed sound better. The Switch OLED can get surprisingly loud, though it seemed to achieve that volume without sounding tinny or becoming distorted in the games I tested.

The Switch OLED can get so loud that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone using it at max volume in handheld mode. However, I suppose it could be useful for tabletop mode when the players presumably sit further away from the console. Either way, the dual speakers on the Switch OLED do the job well.

The Switch OLED also comes with a redesigned dock that not only looks better than the original Switch dock, but has increased functionality thanks to the built-in LAN port. Sadly, we lost the inner USB port to accommodate the LAN port, but I can’t remember the last time I used that USB port for anything other than the LAN adapter on the standard dock anyway.

The new dock is nice, with a backplate that detaches completely for easier access to its internal port. It works with both the Switch OLED and the standard Switch (as does the original dock), so if you live in a multi-Switch household, it can be used without worry of compatibility issues. All in all, I have no complaints about the dock, though it is a little ridiculous that we had to wait until 2021 to get an integrated LAN port. Think of all the laggy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate matches that could have been avoided if the original Switch dock included a LAN port to begin with!

As far as performance goes, you’re not going to find any differences between the Switch OLED and the standard Switch. Internals haven’t been upgraded in any meaningful way, so games will run the same and continue to display at a max of 720p in handheld mode. Even battery life is very similar between the two models, with the Switch OLED lasting just as long as the HAC-001(-01) model that was introduced in 2019 in my testing. Finally, I should note the impressive standby battery life of the console; even after a day in sleep mode, the battery’s charge only decreased by a few percentage points for me.

Nintendo Switch OLED verdict

So, at the end of it all, we’re left feeling like the Switch family is now a little too crowded. When the Switch OLED was first announced, I wrote an article arguing that it should be the new standard Switch model, and after using it, I still think that’s true. Perhaps it isn’t the new standard because Nintendo doesn’t want to sell the OLED model at a $300 price point, but the alternative is that now we have two Switch models that are very close to one another in terms of functionality, performance, and pricing, only one has an objectively worse display and dock.

If you’re one of the seven people who have yet to buy a Nintendo Switch and you’re finally ready to dive in, get the OLED model. Everyone else who owns a standard Switch probably doesn’t need to upgrade unless you’re some kind of super enthusiast for whom money is not an issue. Before the Switch OLED launched, everyone said it wouldn’t be worth an upgrade, and now that it’s here, that analysis has held true. If, however, you only own a Switch Lite and you regret sacrificing TV mode to save some money, this upgrade becomes a little more appealing.

Don’t get me wrong; the Switch OLED is a good console – it’s the best Switch available at the moment, no question. But with nearly 100 million Switch consoles sold already, its existence is a bit of a head-scratcher. It doesn’t give current Switch owners much reason to upgrade, and I can’t help but wonder if the decision to keep the standard Switch around will cannibalize OLED sales by way of mainstream families who compare price tags, assume there are no major differences (a correct assumption), and decide to save $50.

It’s a weird state of affairs, to be sure. That said, while the Switch OLED makes for a poor upgrade, it will be an excellent purchase for first-time buyers. If you have the extra $50 to spare and you’re trying to decide which model to go with, take the plunge and grab the OLED model. Your eyes, tabletops, and Smash Bros. opponents will thank you later.

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Computing

Apple Is Planning an Unusual OLED MacBook Switcheroo

Over the last couple of years, Apple has been rolling out high-end mini-LED displays on its latest devices, including the brand-new MacBook Pro range and the iPad Pro. However, according to a new report from Korean website The Elec, Apple will replace these displays with OLED panels at some point after 2025.

The outlet says Apple had originally planned to debut the tech on its laptop range in 2025, but that this date is now likely postponed. The iPad range, on the other hand, could get OLED screens in late 2023 or 2024. The Elec states they will come to 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPads, which almost certainly means the iPad Pro.

It’s an interesting theory, not least because Apple’s mini-LED screens — dubbed Liquid Retina XDR by the company — have been touted as avoiding the burn-in problem that can afflict OLED displays. Mini-LED screens can also go brighter than their OLED counterparts, with the new MacBook Pros hitting up to 1,600 nits of peak brightness. Still, there are plenty of benefits that OLED can offer over mini-LED alternatives.

For one thing, OLED screens offer lighting and dimming down to the individual pixel, which allows for much more precise color and lighting control. Mini-LED panels, on the other hand, rely on much larger lighting zones, which can result in a “halo” effect surrounding bright areas on dark backgrounds.

Right now, though, the price of outfitting its products with OLED panels is thought to be too high for Apple. That could go some way to explaining the 2025 date, by which point the price might have dropped to a more palatable amount for the Cupertino firm.

The main driver of the cost is reportedly Apple’s desire to use an unusual double-stack structure in the panel. This means using two light emission layers, which “doubles luminance and extends the panel’s lifespan,” according to The Elec. Given OLED’s burn-in problems, and the longer product lifespan of MacBooks compared to iPhones, Apple considers this doubling necessary if it is to switch to OLED screens.

The displays in Apple’s MacBooks have always been found near the top of the laptop screen charts, and the company’s mini-LED Pro Display XDR, released with the 2019 Mac Pro, also rams home the company’s prowess in this area. Switching to OLED could strengthen Apple’s hand further.

The MacBook would not be the first Apple device with an OLED screen, though. The complete iPhone 13 range uses OLED panels, while the Apple Watch has done so since its very first version. Once Apple’s laptops and iPad Pro tablets make the switch, almost every Apple device with a display would use the tech.

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Game

Do Old Joy-Cons Work with the New Nintendo Switch OLED?

While it wasn’t the rumored Switch Pro, Nintendo did release a new version of their latest hardware in 2021. The Nintendo Switch OLED is the latest iteration on their handheld/home console hybrid machine, but it isn’t bringing much of any new power. What it does bring is the titular OLED screen for when you play it in handheld mode. OLED screens are seen as the superior screen type thanks to how they make colors look so much more vibrant and deep. Even though the system can’t push games to actual higher resolutions, the OLED screen still makes every game on the Switch look that much sharper.

Unlike the Switch Lite, which has the controls connected to the device itself, this new Switch OLED is another version of the standard Switch. That means it can be docked and played in handheld mode just like the original. For Nintendo fans who are looking to upgrade their original units, the new OLED screen could be very tempting, but if you’ve had the Switch for a couple years now and have collected some of the many colorful Joy-Con controllers, you may be hesitant to buy this new one if they aren’t compatible. Now that we’ve gotten our hands on the new system, we can share for certain if your old Joy-Cons will work with the new Nintendo Switch OLED.

Further reading

Are old Joy-Cons compatible with the Nintendo Switch OLED?

The short and sweet answer is yes. Any and all Joy-Cons you have in your collection can be paired up and used with the new Nintendo Switch OLED seamlessly. That means all those bright and colorful Joy-Cons you have can be mixed and matched with your shiny new OLED screen as you wish. With this new model’s slightly bigger screen and much-improved kickstand, it has never been more comfortable to take your Switch on the go. Also, if you plan on keeping your old Switch, the new Joy-Cons that come with the OLED model can be used on that system as well. Mix and match your controllers to your heart’s content!

Also, should the situation ever come up, the entire Switch OLED can also fit into your original Switch’s dock. All this to say, if you feel the enhanced screen is worth the investment and can find any available units to purchase, there’s no downside to grabbing this slightly new Nintendo Switch system.

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Game

The Nintendo Switch OLED shortage just got even worse news

If you’ve been having a difficult time finding the recently-released Nintendo Switch OLED, you definitely aren’t alone. It’s a tale we’re sure most are tired of hearing: global supply disruptions have made new hardware difficult to find, and the Switch OLED is not immune to the issue. In fact, a new report details the cuts Nintendo has had to make to its Switch sales forecast for its current fiscal year, and those cuts are significant.

Nintendo Switch production targets cut as OLED model launches

According to Nikkei Asia, Nintendo has been forced to cut its production targets by 20% for the 2021 fiscal year, ending in March 2022. Nintendo originally targeted 30 million unit sales for the fiscal year as a whole – an ambitious target for a platform that’s coming up on its 5th birthday, but obtainable given the Switch’s popularity. Now, Nintendo reportedly expects only to produce 24 million, a target that comes after earlier revisions to that initial goal.

Like every other company that makes consumer electronics, Nintendo is feeling the squeeze of the global semiconductor shortage prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Switch sales actually spiked at the beginning of the pandemic, as here in the US, states began implementing lockdowns right around the time that Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched for the platform.

The sudden interest in the Switch and gaming in general made Animal Crossing: New Horizons one of the best-selling games for the platform seemingly overnight, and it led to Switch shortages in the early days of the pandemic. Demand for the Switch remains strong, which is contributing to current stock shortages as well.

In a brief statement to Nikkei Asia, a Nintendo spokesperson suggested that the impact of these component shortages is still being determined, saying simply, “We are assessing their impact on our production.” Still, even if the decrease in production targets isn’t as bad as Nikkei’s report suggests it will be, component shortages are still a reality of the world we currently live in.

Nintendo is in good company

Of course, Nintendo isn’t alone in its struggle to secure components for new gaming hardware. However, it has good company in its current position, as Microsoft and Sony are grappling with the same issues and have been for quite some time. With the component shortage, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are still hard to find a year out from release.

While there are signs that the component shortage may be easing a little bit – for instance, the Xbox Series S is readily available in many places – manufacturers have indicated that we could be in this for the long haul as well. At best, it seems that the component shortage is expected to start getting better at some point in 2022, though we may not see noticeable improvement until we’re into 2023.

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