Nintendo fans take another look at the Switch

After two years with the Nintendo Switch, a few things still manage to impress editor Devindra Hardawar, like how flexible the system is mobile or docked, or the way those shareable Joy-Cons pull everyone into the experience. In re-examining his review, Devindra said that a larger selection of titles, improved online service and the durability of the hardware had changed his overall perspective on the device. We ended up raising the score on the Switch from 84 to 88. However, users were a little more implacable (and perhaps less likely to update their write-ups), leading to an average score of 81 from our readers.

One of the things that Devindra and readers agree on is how fun the Switch’s portability makes it: IAmQuinn said “one of my favorite things about the Switch is how easy it is to bring with you and play on any screen. I often bring it to other places to play with people.” Likewise, Ari felt the versatility of the Switch made it “an amazing system with so many ways to play — plugged into a TV, on-the-go as a handheld console or splitting the controllers to play with friends.” Deric said he “mostly uses it as a home console, but the ability to take it and play it anywhere just adds to its appeal. So easy to pack up and go set it up somewhere… Probably my favorite console.” TacoDave said he takes it “almost everywhere I go … I’ve used it in a movie theater before the movie started. I’ve used it in my car while my oil was being changed. I’ve used it in airports, on airplanes, and I brought my dock with me to visit my family.”

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

The Joy-Cons, a definitive element of the Switch’s design, actually underwhelmed most reviewers. IAmQuinn said that while the console itself “feels solid in the hand, the Joy-Cons are maybe a touch cheap feeling.” Pahn was less reserved, saying they were “awful to actually use to play a game.” However, the Pro Controller earned praise from Daniel, who said”IMHO the Pro Controller is a must-have accessory when purchasing the Switch.” IAmQuinn, who “primarily plays docked with a Pro Controller,” also prefers it to the Joy-Cons, declaring it to be “pretty solid.”

Other aspects of the hardware frequently mentioned by reviewers included the battery. IAmQuinn says that it “generally lasts longer than my game session. I’ve only ever come close to running out of juice once … and I believe it was around the typical three-hour mark.” Pahn gave a thumbs-up to the memory card-style form factor, while Alexander said the Switch “is not without its flaws.” His list of misses: “As of now, there is no Bluetooth for wireless headphones (even though the controllers use it), no web browser (which the Wii U had), and the online service is useless for anything other than just playing games online … This won’t stop me from loving the Switch, though.”

Gaming on Nintendo Switch

When it came to the Switch’s software, Devindra said that an initial lack of game titles was one of the system’s main shortcomings. Reviewers agreed, with Jose mentioning “the games library is very limited.” Araczynski found “very few titles worth playing. It’s a nice addition (for the few unique titles it offers) if you already own the full consoles, but hardly a replacement for any of them if you’re a serious gamer.” Anaveragedude said the “low number of great games and the cost of the games really keep it from shining.”

This seems to have changed in more recent reviews. Alexander said “most of the first-party games on the Switch are absolute blockbusters.” He also approved of the way the Switch “prioritizes co-op and amazing single-player experiences like Zelda and Mario Odyssey.” Ari thought the library of games available for the Switch “has something for everyone,” while Midori believed that the “collection of great first-party Nintendo games” is the “saving grace” of the Switch. TacoDave’s recent review states that “now, two years in, Nintendo not only has the best exclusives in gaming (Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, etc.), they also have the best indies available and I can take them with me anywhere.”

Docked Nintendo Switch

When it came to comparing the Switch to other gaming systems, the Switch largely pulled ahead. IAmQuinn said it “brought me back to gaming. My Xbox had become mostly a Netflix player while my Switch is where I go to play games.” Daniel said the biggest reasons to purchase a Switch were “its versatility and portability, in addition to game library and online features.” TacoDave didn’t have a moment of hesitation in choosing which console to buy, as “only one of them has the ability to travel with me in my pocket. I love my Switch. I bought it on day one, and I’m glad I did.”

Very few reviewers had anything bad to say about the Switch, with Pahn being the exception, finding third-party support to be lacking. Despite any initial hiccups, the Switch seems to have collected a large fan base: JVaughan said it “has a great library, unique features, and a kid-friendly design that leads the pack … the best value for the money in video games today.” Jose stated it was “still one of the best devices I’ve tried in the past years,” and IAmQuinn summarized by saying “I think Nintendo nailed it with this console. They are still adding to it and the platform is still maturing but it has room to grow and will only get better as time goes on. I’m excited to see what else Nintendo has in store for the Switch.”

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.
A writer and editor based out of San Francisco, Amber has worked for The Wirecutter, PCWorld, MaximumPC and TechHive. Her work has also appeared on InfoWorld, MacWorld, Details, Apartment Therapy and Broke-Ass Stuart. In her spare time, she takes too many pictures of her cats, watches too much CSI and obsesses over her bullet journal.

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Is the latest Apple Mac Mini a worthy challenger?

When Engadget video producer Chris Schodt reviewed the new Mac Mini back in November, it had been four years since the previous model was released. The 2018 upgrade includes an eighth-generation Intel processor and a plethora of ports in a space gray recycled aluminum body, all of which make for a polished and flexible machine. However, Chris thought the lack of a dedicated GPU was a big miss here, particularly for the sort of pro users Apple was trying to court.

The comments left on that review indicated that many of you were excited at the prospect of a refreshed Mac Mini. If you purchased one, what do you use it for? How would you score it? Does an Intel Core i3 processor, UHD 630 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD justify the starting price of $799? Tell potential buyers all the ups and downs of working with Apple’s “workhorse” computer in a user review on our product page for the Mac Mini, and you may see your writeup featured in an upcoming roundup!

Note: Comments are turned off on this article; please contribute your reviews on our Apple Mac Mini product page!

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.
A writer and editor based out of San Francisco, Amber has worked for The Wirecutter, PCWorld, MaximumPC and TechHive. Her work has also appeared on InfoWorld, MacWorld, Details, Apartment Therapy and Broke-Ass Stuart. In her spare time, she takes too many pictures of her cats, watches too much CSI and obsesses over her bullet journal.

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Ask Engadget: What are the best language learning apps?

The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we’ve known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community’s knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments.

We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we’ve decided to bring back our “Ask Engadget” column. This week’s question concerns using apps to learn a new language. Weigh in with your advice in the comments — and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com!

What are the best language-learning apps?


Amber Bouman

Amber Bouman
Community Content Editor

I have tried out at least two dozen language-learning apps over the past several years, and I think it helps to first know what kind of learner you are (visual, auditory, etc.) and how you most like to interact with your device.

For example, I listen to a lot of playlists and podcasts on my phone and I know I’m easily addicted to silly mobile games, which means I gravitate toward things I can listen to or play with.

If you’re looking for an app, I’d start with bigger-name and higher-rated apps like Duolingo, Babbel or Rosetta Stone. All three of these options are available for iOS and Android devices, and all three incorporate visual, auditory and written learning to keep you actively involved. Duolingo uses gamification to encourage you to use the app every day, which is pretty effective; Rosetta Stone has nicely organized step-by-step learning; and Babbel uses ‘conversations’ to guide you through courses.

A few that I haven’t used yet, but am curious to try, are Memrise and Drops. The downside to these, as with most language learning apps, is that there will almost inevitably be a subscription wall at some point, meaning you’ll have to shell out some cash to get full access.

Once you have some familiarity with the language you’re learning, consider downloading an app that’s encourages you to practice and use the language. Busuu, HelloTalk and Mondly all teach by having you interact with others (usually over chat) who either speak the language natively or are also practicing.

Because immersing yourself in the language you’re trying to pick up can be helpful, you might also want to think beyond learning apps. I’ve used flashcard apps to brush up on vocabulary words, downloaded podcasts in Spanish and set up watchlists of telenovelas on Hulu. I’ve even made Spotify playlists (some apps, like Learn Spanish with Lirica instruct by teaching you the words to popular songs) and toggled the settings on movies and TV shows to show the Spanish-language version (The Incredibles was a particularly fun choice). If you’re brave, and you know your phone’s settings well enough, you could even turn your phone’s OS to a different language as well. ¡Buena suerte!

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.

Engadget is the original home for technology news and reviews. Since our founding in 2004, we’ve grown from an exhaustive source for consumer tech news to a global multimedia organization covering the intersection of technology, gaming and entertainment. Today, Engadget hosts the archives and expertise of early digital publishing players like Joystiq, TUAW and gdgt, and produces the Internet’s most compelling videos, reviews, features and breaking news about the people, products and ideas shaping our world. After 14 years in the game, we’re leveraging our history to bring the future into focus.

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Is the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 powerful enough to replace a laptop?

Back in October when we reviewed it, Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2 was the first device available featuring a Snapdragon 850 CPU. The 2-in-1 performed admirably for editor Cherlynn Low, completing tasks faster than the ASUS NovaGo’s Snapdragon 835 could, while also delivering over 15 hours of battery life. The package includes a keyboard and S Pen which, combined with a vibrant display and gigabit LTE connection, earned the Galaxy Book 2 a respectable score of 83.

But readers wanted to know more: In the comments section of the review they requested more details on ports, app compatibility and configurations. So, we’re opening up the floor to those of you who purchased a Galaxy Book 2. After all, who knows a product’s drawbacks and strengths better than someone who’s used it for months?

Head over to our product page for the Galaxy Book 2 and leave a review laying out your experiences with it. Is the performance good enough to rival an Intel-based system? What’s your favorite use for the S Pen? And what about those ports, anyway? Help out your fellow readers with a detailed review, and you may see it included in an upcoming user review roundup!

Note: Comments are off for this article; please contribute your review on our Samsung Galaxy Book 2 product page!

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.
A writer and editor based out of San Francisco, Amber has worked for The Wirecutter, PCWorld, MaximumPC and TechHive. Her work has also appeared on InfoWorld, MacWorld, Details, Apartment Therapy and Broke-Ass Stuart. In her spare time, she takes too many pictures of her cats, watches too much CSI and obsesses over her bullet journal.

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Paid Dropbox users are getting 1TB more storage space today

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Dropbox has spent much of the last few years focused on its products for enterprise business, but the company got its start by offering a simple, reasonably priced cloud storage and sync option. With major competition in the space from Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Apple iCloud, Dropbox today is making its plans a bit more enticing.

The first Dropbox paid tier, called plus, now has 2TB of storage, double what it had before and the same as you’ll get with similar $10/month plans from Google and Apple. The catch is that Dropbox Plus only costs $10 per month if you sign up for an annual plan — otherwise, you’ll now be billed $11.99 per month. That’s still a bit more expensive than the competition, but it’s definitely closer than it was before. And Dropbox was quick to point out that it makes all its revenue through subscriptions, so it’s not selling your personal information. Given the intense interest in user privacy these days, it’s not surprising to see them taking an Apple-like stance when comparing its service to Google’s products.

However, Dropbox added a few other features to sweeten the deal. Smart Sync, which was previously only available for business accounts or the $20 monthly Dropbox Professional plan, is now available for Plus users as well. As a refresher, that lets you see everything you’ve stored in Dropbox through the Windows and Mac file browsers, whether it’s saved on your local storage or just in the cloud. That keeps you from having to jump between the desktop and web interface when trying to find files.

Dropbox is making Smart Sync more useful, as well: it’s now automated. Once you start using Smart Sync, it’ll look for files saved locally that you haven’t accessed recently and remove them. They’ll still be available in your file browser and in the Dropbox web interface, you’ll just need to re-download them. You can still specify files that you want to be saved locally in perpetuity, but this will help keep your hard drive from getting too full.

Dropbox Smart Sync

Another new feature on board for both Plus and Professional accounts is Rewind, which sounds similar to what you’d expect. If for some reason you make a major, disastrous change to your account (like deleting entire folders or if some malware deletes all your files), it’s now much easier to roll everything back to a previous state. By going to the Dropbox web site, you’ll see options for restoring everything the way it was before your catastrophic accident. Plus users will be able to roll back to any point in the prior 30 days, while Professional users will be able to restore in the past 180 days.

Dropbox Rewind

Finally, there are a few changes that’ll only affect Professional accounts. First, storage is increasing to 3TB, up from 2TB before. And there’s a new built-in watermarking tool, which lets you overlay your name and the date on any image file or PDF. Given that Dropbox has focused its professional plan on content creators, it makes sense to give them an extra little bit of protection when sharing images and documents with potential clients.

Dropbox watermarking

These changes to the Professional plan aren’t going to cost extra, either — plans are staying $19.99 per month or $199 per year. Regardless of which plan you’re signed up for, these changes should start rolling out today.

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