Nintendo has announced a new model for the Switch, which comes with a brand new OLED screen, has more internal memory, and a better kickstand. It also launches with an updated dock, so you might be wondering...
What´s the difference between a regular dock and the one the OLED Switch has?
Functionally, the two docks are almost identical, but the new version does offer one new feature that the previous one did not. The new dock sports a LAN port that allows you to connect a LAN cable directly into the Nintendo Switch.
So, what´s a LAN cable?
A LAN cable is basically an internet cable, they are also called ethernet cables. They are (usually blue) wires, that when plugged into a machine, let it connect to the internet with a wired connection.
The introduction of a LAN port to the dock means that you no longer have to rely on Wi-fi, or a LAN adapter, to connect your Nintendo Switch to the internet.
Granted, you will need to play in docked mode to enjoy this new benefit, as only the dock has the LAN port. The Nintendo Switch itself does not.
One thing you should keep in mind is that another difference between the OLED with the "regular" Switch is that it comes with a 2.0 HDMI cable. These cables are known to cause blackouts while you play on some TVs, so bear that in mind if you have technical issues.
Why would you want to use a LAN cable to connect your Nintendo Switch to the internet?
It´s been long known that a wired connection is more stable and usually faster than relying on wi-fi. When you play wirelessly, your internet is at the mercy of local interference and frequent loss of information. This is true even for Bluetooth accessories like gamepads, which in some circumstances can get Input Lag due to local interference.
A LAN cable doesn´t have this problem. Your data is safely and quickly sent into the web without any outside interference, or people using your signal to browse the web on their own.
Connecting via a LAN Cable translates into a smoother experience, especially for games that rely on quick movements, like fighting games.
By using a LAN cable, you will improve your connection and diminish your lag somewhat.
Can you use this dock with the other Nintendo Switch versions?
Yes, the new dock is compatible with all the other existing Nintendo Switch versions, letting you enjoy your new wired connection to the internet. It will work with the regular Nintendo Switch. Whether it works with a Nintendo Switch Lite remains to be seen, as that Switch model doesn´t work with regular docks either.
The dock itself, while sold along with the OLED Switch, it´s not a part of it. You can also use your old dock to charge and play on the tv with this new model of Nintendo Switch. They are not mutually exclusive.
Of course, you could already connect a LAN cable to the Switch without needing a whole new dock, but to do so, you have to buy an adapter like this one.
Can you get this new dock without buying an OLED Switch?
Yes, Nintendo has announced that they will sell the dock separately. You will be able to buy it without needing to get yourself an OLED Switch. In fact, you can get most of the features of the new Switch without buying it at all.