The Switch’s 6.2-inch screen is fine for playing by yourself, but despite what Nintendo claims, it’s not great for multiplayer when you’re not near a TV. The Genki ShadowCast solves this by turning another portable device you probably travel with, your laptop, into a larger screen for any almost any device with HDMI.
Human Things isn’t exactly a household name just yet, but the company has been hitting it out of the park with accessories designed to fill some huge holes in the Nintendo Switch’s functionality. The Genki Bluetooth Audio was a tiny dongle that made the Switch work with wireless headphones, while the Genki Covert Dock dramatically reduced the size of the Switch’s cumbersome TV dock. The company’s third creation is its smallest yet, but the tiny dongle makes the console even easier to travel with while not limiting gameplay to its 6.2-inch screen.
The Genki ShadowCast plugs into a device’s HDMI video-out connection—be it the Nintendo Switch, the PS5, or even a streaming box like a Roku—and converts it to a video signal that can be carried over a USB-C signal and displayed on a laptop’s screen, or a monitor through a desktop PC using a Genki app. There are some limitations to what the dongle can do. While it can accept up to a 4K video signal, it only outputs video at resolutions of 1920×1080 at 30 fps, or 1280×720 at 60 fps. That’s a significant step down, particularly when the current crop of next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X can push 4K at 60 fps and beyond.
If you’re using the dongle with the Switch, it also means you’ll need to have either Nintendo’s TV dock with you, or the Genki Covert Dock, because there’s no other way to get video out of the console. Anyone planning to travel with consoles like the PS5 or Xbox Series X probably already has plans to plug it into a large TV when they get to where they’re going, so the Genki ShadowCast will almost certainly appeal to Switch gamers most. Nintendo’s hardware already maxes out at 1920×1080 when connected to a TV, and given the choice between crowding around its 6.2-inch screen with friends or living with a reduced frame rate on a larger laptop screen, most will happily choose the latter.
There is also a tiny bit of latency introduced while the Genki ShadowCast is doing its thing, so don’t expect to see competitive gamers embrace or even consider using it. But for casual players, or those looking for a cheap and easy way to stream or record live gameplay, you’re not going to find a more affordable solution than the $35 ShadowCast, which is the price tag for the first 1,000 units sold. As with its previous products, Human Things is using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help put the Genki ShadowCast into production, with delivery expected as soon as February of next year for the earliest backers. It’s always good to use a heaping helping of caution when it comes to backing crowdfunded products, particularly during a pandemic that has brought added manufacturing challenges and problems with shipping logistics. But Human Things has been through this process before and delivered excellent products, so if you do back this one, maybe budget for a little extra patience too.