Portable Power and Display Adapter for Nintendo Switch
Even before I was able to attend a talk by Shark Tank’s Damon Johns at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was a huge fan of tech and innovation. I regularly receive emails from Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns and have backed several of them. Excitedly, one of these emails contained a link to the GENKI COVERT DOCK from Human Things. Released in March of 2017, the Nintendo Switch quickly became one of the most popular portable gaming systems on the market. You could play on the go with the Joy-Cons attached to the machine, you could set the screen up with a kickstand and play with the controllers separate, or you could place the Switch into the OEM base dock for an added home console experience. When placed into the dock, the Switch would charge at the maximum rate, the video output would upgrade to 1080P (720P while in handheld mode), and thanks to included USB-A ports, you could plug-in peripheral controllers. Unfortunately, the OEM dock did not get the same portable makeover as the Switch system. It truly needed a reliable, quality, portable docking option that would not brick the system.
You may ask yourself the very important question, why do I need to buy an adapter for a portable gaming system? If you are actively traveling and have no access to a larger TV, this device may not provide you much utility. I could also argue that you may not need a device like this if you never intend to play multiplayer games. However, imagine the fun you could have when you arrive at your destination and you gain the ability to play your switch on a full-size TV/monitor. With a more portable docking option, you could enjoy multiplayer games on a larger screen, without toting around the large, unwieldy, clunky, base dock. When I read about the “Tactical Stealth Dock Hidden inside a portable GaN-Charger,” I had to learn more. As of the writing of this article 6/10/20 29,072 people have backed the product and pledged $1,984,160 through two campaigns. After making a name for themselves with their Wireless Bluetooth Adapter for the Switch, they moved into studying its power supply. Succeeding and exceeding my expectations, they were able to provide a docking device with sizing similar to a standard dual USB power brick. Their main Kickstarter page noted, “It’s essentially an invisible dock hidden covertly in an inconspicuous, but sleek charger.”
The GENKI Covert Dock arrived in a nostalgic Nintendo Red-Blue colored 4 3/4 inches long by 4 1/8 inches wide by 3 7/8 inches tall retail box. The main panel displayed the GENKI COVERT DOCK name along the top left, “A portable charger that streams to any screen designed for everyday carry” along the bottom left, a colorful photograph quality image of the dock, a Nintendo Switch, phone, and tablet. Honestly, I was quite impressed with the color scheme and the vibrancy of that panel. Turning to the blue-colored back panel, you will find a front view of the COVERT DOCK device, the lower right screen/joy-con of a Nintendo Switch, the phrase “MAKE ANY SCREEN YOUR PLAYGROUND” along the top left, and a red GENKI logo with the COVERT DOCK title along the bottom right. Examining the blue-colored right-side panel, I found three icons along the top of the panel (STEALTHY, POWERFUL, RELIABLE) and a lower “how-to” section. With the phrase “NOW YOU’RE PLAYING WITH PORTABLE POWER,” the device was clearly designed to enhance your on-the-go Nintendo Switch experience. The packaging noted that the device was 10x smaller than the original dock, equipped with next-gen Gallium Nitride tech, and Engineered to safely charge and dock the switch. The lower section of the panel showed the Covert Dock plugged into a wall outlet, the switch connected to the dock, and an HDMI cable connected from the output port to the TV.
The black-colored left panel provided a succinct description of the device along the top of the panel: “Charge, Connect, Stream.” Below this, I found a white ink-outline image of the GENKI Covert Dock and labels for the USB Type-C PD 3.0 port, USB-A 3.1 Accessory Port, and the HDMI Output Display Port. The USB-C PD promised quick charging for your Switch, IPad Pro, iPhone, Android Phone, and MacBook. Through USB-A 3.1 Port, you can link accessories to a console or computer such as GENKI Audio, Controllers, Ethernet, or USB Drive. The HDMI port provided the ability to stream any game, movie, or slides to the television, projector, or monitor. Since I purchased this as a Kickstarter Campaign ($59), the lower-left panel had a Founder Edition Kickstarter sticker. I know that it is not that big of a deal, but the little thanks do matter when I back these programs. To complete the evaluation of the packaging, I turned to the red-colored top and bottom panels. The top panel had red cardboard hanging tab, a GENKI Logo, and the GENKI name. The bottom panel displayed product manufacturing labels and details about the device (model HTGC-DOCK, GENCKI Cover (typo) Dock, and the Made in China icon).
Lifting the top panel of the box, the red/blue inner flap reminded me of a pair of Joy Cons. The left-sided blue panel displayed a superhero figure holding the GENKI Dock to his right temple and the right side provided two thought bubbles stating “THANKS FOR SUPPORTING GENKI BY HUMAN THINGS,” and “WHERE WILL YOU PLAY WITH #COVERTDOCK?” Just beneath the flaps, the company provided a plain brown 4 5/8 inches long by 4 inches wide by 1 inch thick cardboard box. Inside of the box, you will find a 72 1/2 inches long USB-C to USB-C ninety-degree cable with Velcro strap, a trendy little sticker and the Covert dock multilingual manual. The USB-C cable had the GENKI name etched into the neck/collar section and the round matte-black cable was quite flexible. The instruction manual (English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese) showed the “What’s Inside” on the main cover: Covert Dock Adapter, 1x USB-C 3.1 Cable (6ft/1.8m), user manual, and an optional Global adapter set if you bought it. Each of the languages was given approximately three pages of information. Assessing the English section, I found the grammar to be accurate and the prose seemed to be composed by a native speaker. As I am not fluent in other languages, I could not attest to the quality/accuracy of them. The most useful section of the manual was the section dedicated to the product specifications: Input 100-240V/0.7A 50-60Hz Class 2, Output Type A DC 5V/1A, Type C 5V/2A, 9V/2.44A, 15V/1.66A total output 30W.
Beneath the cardboard box, you will find a 2 3/4 inches wide by 3 3/4 inches tall neoprene drawstring bag, and the 3.56-ounce Covert Dock. I plugged the COVERT dock into a standard Type-B wall outlet, a DROK USB-C Multimeter into the COVERT Dock, and the included USB-C cable into the multimeter and into my iPad Pro 11”. The DROK Multimeter read 14.7V/154A and charged my iPad Pro 11” at about 1% per minute. When I plugged this into my iPad Pro 11”, a blue USB-C HUB indicator icon illuminated along the top right of the screen, abutting the WIFI icon Even before testing the docking option for my Switch, I was impressed with this device. The neoprene bag paired nicely with the 2 5/16 inches long by 1 3/8 inches wide by 1 5/8 inches tall (narrow end) and 1 3/4 inches tall (back end). The rear section had retractable type A wall prongs and many of the product manufacturing labels. The bottom panel had many of the manufacturing labels and product specifications. The front panel had USB-C, USB-A and HDMI output ports. To use the device, simply plug it into power and then plug your cable into the desired device. As a charger, this device worked flawlessly. Furthermore, the small footprint ensured that my outlets were not blocked when using the Genki device.
Even though the device is quite small, you can purchase several cheaper multi-port charging hubs through Amazon or other retailers. If that was your only goal for this device, you would be drastically overspending. If you intend to use it as a charger and dock, you will understand the power of the Genki Covert Dock. Similar to the OEM dock, the COVERT DOCK upscaled the image from 720P to a full 1080P, without having to place my switch into a base station. The portable device was 1/10th the size of the original dock, 22% smaller than the original charger alone, and took up a tiny fraction of the space within my POWERA Messenger bag. Thanks to the design of the device, it not only worked with standard Switch charging profiles, it captured the display data to send to the HDMI output port. Additionally, for portability and every-day-carry (EDC), the latest PD 3.0 protocols allowed my iPad to charge at its maximal rate. The plug-and-play feature proved to be quite nice and this little dock has removed the OEM dock/charger from the carry bag.
The Kickstarter campaign has the COVERT Dock at a $59 pledge (normally $79), the Global Ops dock for $69. Previously, you could add on options for the HDMI travel cable $12, and an extra L shaped USB-3.1 cable for $15. I do not believe this is an option any longer. Based on their website, they will start shipping devices 7/3/20.