SFANS portable Nintendo Switch adapter review

The SFANS adapter makes it so much easier to dock your Nintendo Switch on the go

The SFANS adapter isn’t cheap, but makes it easier to dock your Switch anywhere.

It’s pretty easy to grab your Nintendo Switch and bring it to a friend’s house, but if you’re taking it with you, there’s a good chance you’re going to leave the dock at home, even if you’ll have access to a TV. Bulky and unable to fit in most carrying cases, the dock isn’t really designed to ever leave your entertainment center. And without it, you won’t be able to view its full resolution and bright, crisp colors. As we discovered while preparing for our SFANS Switch adapter review, this crowdfunded portable dock is among the best Nintendo Switch accessories if you prefer to always game on the big screen.

Splatoon 2 ran exactly as it did on the original dock, with the same resolution, colors, and framerate.

Initially funded through a very successful IndieGoGo campaign, the SFANS portal Switch dock is a fully functional replacement for the original dock that comes bundled with the console. On the bottom of the adapter, which is just slightly wider than the creator’s “Oreo-sized” claim, there are ports to plug in both the Switch’s included USB-C power adapter as well as an HDMI cord. (The cords are not included.) Our review unit also came with a portable stand that looks almost identical to one produced by Hori, allowing the console to stay elevated and get enough ventilation. For an $80 pledge on the crowdfunding page, you can have the cable, adapter, and stand all included with the SFANS.

Playing the Switch with the adapter feels almost identical to using Nintendo’s dock. Aside from the Switch taking just a few seconds longer to shift its display to the television, we encountered no performance issues at all. Splatoon 2, for example, ran exactly as it did on the original dock, with the same resolution, colors, and framerate. After more than an hour of play, the SFANS was barely warm. The device also charges the Nintendo Switch like the original dock.

Though it is meant for travel, the adapter seems fairly delicate. In place of the small USB-C nub on the original dock, there’s a short cable that plugs into the bottom of the Nintendo Switch. The flat-ribbon cable doesn’t look like it can take much abuse, and it’s directly connected to the SFANS, so you won’t be able to replace it if it breaks.

The adapter also serves as a USB hub for the Switch. The left side sports two USB 3.1 ports, and the right side has an additional two USB-C ports. Though there’s little reason to need extra ports at this time, you may take solace knowing that you have the option.

It’s worth noting that most of these features are actually available in an existing adapter designed for the Samsung Galaxy S8 that costs a fraction of the SFANS $60 pledge price, though it sports a different external design that doesn’t look like a cute little Joy-Con Grip. According to SFANS, the board inside the device has been used in several other products, which appears to include the S8 adapter, but that substantial work was done to its firmware in order to make USB-C power deliver work properly on the Switch.

“There are a ton of normal USB Type C-to-HDMI solutions. What we did was use one of them and did secondary development based on it,” an SFANS representative told Digital Trends. “[We] can assure you that SFANS is not a rebranded product. It is a redesigined and reengineered product that fits Nintendo Switch.”

Whatever they did, it seems like it works. Unlike many other power-delivery solutions that we have seen for the Nintendo Switch, which often don’t properly charge the system, the SFANS works as advertised.

Yes, $80 is a lot to ask for everything you’ll need to take your Switch on the go, but an extra power adapter and portable stand will already set you back $50. The adapter is certainly expensive, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do.