This past week we were sent two Bionik accessories that promised would help improve the functionality of the Nintendo Switch. The Switch, in all its glory, sometimes has some issues to deal with, which considering its design of basically being a tablet, is somewhat shocking. Anyway, Bionik sent The Gigabit Adapter and Tetra Power recharge station, which were set to take care of both Internet wireless issues, which do occur sometimes — see Splatoon 2 for details, and take care of charge loss in the Joy-Con controllers, which does happen quite a bit when you obsessively play games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Two issues that I have run into and was ready to get solved through these devices.
So, how did the two accessories perform? Let’s dig right into it.
I’m a huge fan of ethernet connected devices, but have, as of late, been a WiFi addict thanks to my MacBook Pro from 2015 (no ethernet port! It sucks sometimes). Regardless, ethernet has been and always will be the most consistent connection when it comes to connecting to a home network. It’s pure and true in delivery of all the Interwebs. That said, when we received Bionik’s Giganet Adapter for the Nintendo Switch it was looking to cure some ailments that the poor Switch had been suffering within my household.
Between the two Bionik devices sent this was the toughest sell for me. Folks nowadays don’t really need to depend on an ethernet connection in their homes for Internet access. According to a study in 2012, 61% of U.S. households have WiFi in their home. Being that the study was from 2012 and that percentage at the time was indeed high, I can only imagine it has gone up with the emergence of streaming video and people cutting the cord to accept other forms of entertainment through various devices. Anyway, the hard sell here is that you would have to have an ethernet cable next to the docking station of the Nintendo Switch, which I would assume is not something common or easily accessible for those with WiFi running their households. You would have to have the wireless router/modem next to the entertainment system housing the Switch’s dock to get full advantage of this device. Knowing multiple people here at work, and my own structure at home, that is simply never the case for most folks. That’s the biggest downer of this accessory, as people really do need to have an accessible ethernet cable by their Nintendo Switch to use the Giganet Adapter.
That said, the device is actually quite brilliant, if you have the ethernet means.
Having used this at work on our gigabit network led infrastructure, it does a great job of maintaining connectivity when playing Splatoon 2. Since Splatoon 2’s launch, I have always run into an issue of getting booted now and then when playing the game due to poor network connectivity. Being booted from Splatoon 2 has consequences, so the less booting, the better. Having thought this was simply Nintendo’s inexperience with online PvP, I didn’t think much of it. As I continued downloading and reviewing Nintendo Switch games, I soon found out that the wireless reception with my Switch and the placement of my WiFi wasn’t so grand. I haven’t run into wireless issues with my XB1 or my PS4, so there had to be something that wasn’t speaking quite well between my router and Switch. Long story short, when I added the Bionik Giganet Adapter that took care of the issues. The rate of download was faster, the lack of dropping out during a match in Splatoon 2 was FAR better and the general speed of accessing material on the fly in the Nintendo Store or watching the latest videos for upcoming games was definitely smoother. In short, it cleared up a lot of network issues my little system was struggling with, which is a great thing. If you have ethernet connectivity close to your home console and television, then you’re going to appreciate this device, as it functions like nobody’s business when the infrastructure situation is right.
As for the design of it, as you can see in the picture above, Bionik did a solid job of making sure that the device fits perfectly between the power cable and the HDMI cable. It’s smooth, it’s black and it is absolutely a visual charm when hooked up to the back of the Switch’s dock because you don’t really know it’s there. The only concern I might have about this design is if you get an older, bulky HDMI cable in the mix, then you might have an issue when plugging directly in the back. There are millimeters of space between power/usb/HDMI — little room for error. Of course, it’s not like you can’t purchase a less bulkier cable, like the one shown in the picture, as they are enormously cheap nowadays, but the design is tightly fit.
The Giganet Adapter is solid. It works as advertised and it alleviates any potential issues that WiFi/Nintendo Switch might be going through. It’s designed to fit in seamlessly with the back of the Switch dock and blends in with the dock’s design. The only hold up here is that you will need your Switch’s dock next to an ethernet port, which is typically not the case nowadays with home networks. WiFi is a vital part of the home and not staring at a bulky modem with a router attached to it next to a television set is usually the case for most folks. If this isn’t you, though, and you’re looking for a solid way to assure connectivity to your switch, then it’s a no-brainer. It’s a $24.99 device that will certainly go a long way.
The last charger for any console device that I used was from Nyko. They have been the leading manufacturer, at least in my opinion, of charging console devices. They have made a lot of money by eliminating batteries over the years, especially with Xbox controllers, and providing a solid way to recharge anything console related. They’re so good that they even once made a Nyko Nacho Chip/Dip holder with Nintendo Wii remote charge capabilities (the world really didn’t need that, but damn was it cool). With that said, Bionik is making a strong push to take control of the Nintendo Switch market with its Joy-Con Tetra Power recharge station. It’s simple in design, easy to use and it pretty much hooks up to anything via USB.
The purpose is simple — you need a Joy-Con controller charged, then this is your device. It serves its purpose of charging up to four Joy-Con pieces and it does it quite easily.
While typing this review, I took two Joy-Con controllers which were near dead and put them on the charger at 10a on the dot this morning. As of 10:35a, one of them is charged (update: 10:49a the other one charged). It’s a quick charge station that doesn’t do much else outside of what is promised. So, what more do you want out of it? Not much, but for the sake of reviewing we decided to focus on where we could hook this thing up. What we found is that you can hook this up to pretty much any USB port. In my office I tried the following ports:
– MacBook Pro
– PlayStation 4
– My surge protector via outlet adapter
All of the ports worked well and they provided the same amount of charge as the Switch’s dock. If you somehow can’t spare the USB ports on the Switch, because that happens a lot (/s), then you have other options for charging your Joy-Con. If you’re simply lazy, like myself, and want to put the thing in the nearest USB port, then it’s perfect. Regardless of where you put the USB, it will work and charge the Joy-Cons. Again, it does what it advertises it can and you can’t fault it for that one bit.
The design would make any HCI addict happy. It’s simply a stand where you insert your Joy-Con controllers onto it. You slide them down, they click and an orange light, as seen in the picture above, indicates that the controller is charging. When it’s done charging, the yellow light goes away and you remove the controllers to use them. You can charge 1-4 Joy-Con pieces on it (meaning if you only need one charged, it will do it — no pair required). Again, it’s simple, it’s easy to use and you couldn’t really ask for better design than what is offered. The USB cable, which is attached to the innards of the device, can be wrapped up underneath when you’re storing it away somewhere. It’s a beautifully designed piece of hardware.
We all know how quickly the Joy-Con controllers can run out of juice when playing for extended periods of time. With Mario Odyssey on its way at the end of the month, as well as Breath of the Wild, which you should own, there is going to be a heavy need of charging when it comes to Joy-Con controllers. This is an especially useful device if you have more than one Joy-Con in the household or if you have irresponsible kids that run the charges out and leave them for dead. Kidding aside, the price point is not bad either. You’re looking at $24.99 for the convenience of quick charges.
 Lardinois, F. (2012). Study: 61% of U.S. Households Now Have WiFi. Techcrunch.com
Study: 61% of U.S. Households Now Have WiFi