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Up-Switch Orion Review: Turn Your Nintendo Switch Into a Monster

What the heck?

Rating: 6/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $247
The Up-Switch Orion on a white background.
Andrew Heinzman / Review Geek

I’ve spent the last few months playing with the Up-Switch Orion, an accessory that more than doubles a Nintendo Switch’s screen size. And, coincidentally, I’ve spent the past month laughing like a madman.

The Orion is one of the strangest Switch accessories I’ve ever seen. And while it’s fun to use (especially with my awful eyesight), I’m not really sure why anyone would buy this product. At least, not without some major improvements.

Warning: The Up-Switch Orion is only compatible with the standard-sized Nintendo Switch. It doesn’t work with the Switch Lite or Switch OLED Edition.

Here's What We Like

  • It's huge

And What We Don't

  • Display quality kinda stinks
  • Volume buttons are confusing
  • Requires wired power or a high-wattage portable battery
  • Doesn't feel durable enough for kids

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It’s a Beautiful Monstrosity

  • Power: Requires wired power
  • Connectivity: HDMI (Intended for other consoles)
  • Speakers: Dual, rear-firing
  • Headphone Jack: Yes

When Up-Switch reached out to tell us about the Orion, I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a ridiculous looking thing—the gamer equivalent of a commercial-sized jar of mayonnaise or pickles.

In fact, I laugh every time I use the Orion. Its 11.6-inch screen is massive, especially when compared to the Nintendo Switch’s relatively puny 5.5-inch display. And while the Orion’s built-in controller grips are fairly comfortable, this monster is so heavy that I need to rest it in my lap while gaming.

Despite its silly appearance, the Orion’s design is impressive. It’s basically a portable monitor with an integrated Switch dock (and a very smart latching mechanism). So, not only does the Orion keep your Switch (and Joy-Cons) charged, but it enables the consoles “docked” graphics mode for reduced lag and an increased frame rate.

And for on-the-go multiplayer, the Orion has a built-in kickstand. You can just prop it up on a table and play Smash Bros or Mario Kart with your family. Plus, an HDMI port on the side of the screen lets you use it with PCs, laptops, and other game consoles.

There are just two major downsides to this design. First, the Orion requires a constant stream of power. You need to plug a USB-C PD cable, such as the official Nintendo Switch charger, into the side of this screen. (A portable battery can also get the job done—we’ll get to that.)

I’m also concerned about overheating. Remember, the Switch increases its power consumption in “docked” mode, so it needs decent airflow. But you can’t really use the Orion without setting it in your lap, where the only airflow is an occasional fart. (To be fair, I haven’t had any problems with overheating, even when playing games like Splatoon 3.)

I should also point out that the Orion has rear-firing speakers. They sound pretty decent, but they’re pointed in the wrong direction.

The Screen Quality Is … Big

The Up-Switch Orion with its kickstand deployed playing multiplayer Smash Bros.
Andrew Heinzman / Review Geek

  • Display: 11.6-inch 768p LCD display
  • Touchscreen: No

My eyesight is terrible. And because game developers are idiots who couldn’t care less about accessibility, I can’t really read in-game text on a TV. It’s just too small. So, I usually play games on the Nintendo Switch in portable mode.

Because of my situation, the Orion feels like a compelling upgrade for my Nintendo Switch. It’s a bigger screen, and it runs my Switch games in “docked” mode for a slight boost in graphical performance. There’s also a nice anti-glare coating, which the Switch lacks. Awesome!

Unfortunately, the Orion’s screen doesn’t look too amazing. It’s a 768p IPS display with a pretty weak contrast ratio and zero touchscreen functionality. I wouldn’t say that the Orion looks awful, but I’ve seen better-looking portable monitors that cost half the price of the Orion.

I’m also worried about durability. The Orion’s plastic screen looks thin and easy to scratch (it reminds me of those old portable DVD player screens). Personally, I wouldn’t give this accessory to a child, which is a shame, as it could made a great gift for families who want to take multiplayer games on the go. (Orion comes with a flimsy carrying pouch, but a hardshell case would be more appropriate.)

Honestly, I think that Up-Switch completely missed the mark here. The whole point in this accessory is the display. Nobody wants to spend $250 on a crappy 768p display, but they may be willing to buy a $350 accessory that turns their Switch into a 11.6-inch 1080p beast.

Orion Isn’t Exactly Portable

Using the Up-Switch Orion with a portable battery.
Even a small battery feels awkward strapped to the Orion. Andrew Heinzman / Review Geek

  • Portable Mode: Requires 45-watt USB-C PD power bank
  • Integrated Kickstand: Yes

Advertisements for the Orion imply that it’s a portable device. But it requires wired power, it’s big and bulky, and you can’t really play it without setting in your lap. So, what’s the deal?

Well, you can technically use the Orion without plugging it into a wall. You just need a portable battery with a USB-C output of 40 watts or more. (Confusingly, Up-Switch sells a 10-watt portable battery for the Orion. Reviews on IndieGoGo suggest that this battery works despite its low output.)

Whatever battery you use, it can strap to the back of the Orion using two pieces of velcro (which are included with the screen). But strapping a battery to the Orion just makes it heavier. So, if you’re into that, great!

I struggle to call the Orion a “portable” device. Even with a battery, it’s still an unwieldy and somewhat awkward accessory. And since it doesn’t come with a hardshell carrying case, it isn’t really something that you can throw into a backpack.

The Gist: I Can’t Stop Laughing

Playing 'Yoshi's Story' on the Up-Switch Orion
Andrew Heinzman / Review Geek

The Orion feels like a prototype. It’s an interesting product with a smart design and some very frustrating problems. But looking at this crazy thing makes me laugh, and to my surprise, it’s a pretty fun toy. I’d love to continue using it.

Here’s my problem; the Orion is a novelty. It’s a silly idea that someone managed to bring to life. And I’m not sure why you’d spend $250 on such a thing. It’s neat, and it may be useful in some situations, but it’s a $250 accessory that nobody really asked for.

Every time I think of some convoluted situation where Orion might come in handy, I realize that a portable monitor could get the job done for $100 cheaper. The only exception is bad eyesight—if you have trouble seeing the Nintendo Switch’s screen but want to play in handheld mode, maybe the Orion’s worth trying.

Rating: 6/10
Price: $247

Here’s What We Like

  • It's huge

And What We Don't

  • Display quality kinda stinks
  • Volume buttons are confusing
  • Requires wired power or a high-wattage portable battery
  • Doesn't feel durable enough for kids

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »