Today we’re taking a look at the just-released Genki Covert Dock, a $75 third-party dock for the Nintendo Switch console. It’s the size and shape of a compact USB charger, with folding 120VAC prongs for US electrical power (slide-on adapters for other countries are included in the box). We know everybody’s worried about third-party docks right now—but Genki’s lead engineer is the one who first discovered why Switch consoles tended to brick in third-party docks. So the Covert feels like a safe bet.
Although Covert Dock does come with a manual, you aren’t going to need it—usage is very simple. You plug the Covert Dock directly into the wall, just as you would any compact phone charger. Plug an HDMI cable from the Covert Dock into your display, and plug the included USB-C 3.1 charge cable from your Switch to the Covert. Voila—a few seconds later, your Switch’s video and audio are routed over HDMI to your display, and it’s charging.
Simple device, real engineering
Genki Covert Dock for Nintendo Switch
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It’s effectively impossible to buy a Nintendo Switch right now—I know, I keep looking. When I bought our family’s Switch, I really just wanted to play Untitled Goose Game—at which the kids and I spent eons laughing, bonding, and discussing why we really shouldn’t carry pranks learned from Goose Game over into real life. But these days, for my family as for many others, the Switch has effectively become a dedicated Animal Crossing: New Horizons console, and it has become worth its weight in gold.
I tell you this because the Genki Covert is the first product I’ve ever tested which elicited actual threats from my wife. When I told her I’d gotten a third-party dock for review, she immediately asked how I was going to replace the Switch if it got bricked. “I don’t think you understand just how important the Switch is to the kids,” she declared. “You can’t even buy another one right now.” The word “divorce” may or may not have come up shortly thereafter, presumably in jest. The mood was grim.
Fortunately, we now know why third-party docks kept frying Nintendo Switch consoles—in the most famous case, a programmable microcontroller was sending the wrong voltage to the Switch. Problems with other third-party docks cropped up because Nintendo used a nonstandard design for the Switch’s USB-C port—and Genki Covert Dock’s lead engineer is the Redditor who finally figured all of that out.
The Genki Covert Dock itself seems to bear out that original attention to detail. You can’t really make a compact, wall-wart USB charger look like a glamorous device—but it feels solid in your hand, the hinged electrical supply prongs swing smoothly in and out, and there aren’t any rough seams.
Using the Genki Covert Dock
There really isn’t much to say about using a device without a single button on it—plug Covert Dock into the wall, connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable (not included), and connect your Switch to the Covert Dock with a USB-C cable (included). That’s it.
Waking up your Switch from across the room with a paired Joy-Con works with the Covert Dock, just as it does with the OEM dock. There’s an additional USB 3.1 Type-A connector which can be used to charge your phone, or to connect additional Switch-compatible USB devices—Ethernet adapters, microphones, mice, keyboards, etc.
There’s a little delay from the time you plug your Switch into the Covert Dock to when the Switch’s content appears on your TV or other display—about five seconds. This is a bit quicker than our official Nintendo dock, which sometimes can take closer to 10 seconds before the HDMI out goes live. We also noticed that while the HDMI out on the OEM dock stays live if the dock is unplugged, unplugging the Genki Covert immediately kills the HDMI along with it.
Although the Covert Dock requires you to plug in a cable rather than one-handedly plopping your Switch into the OEM dock, I actually prefer the cable. The Switch doesn’t always line up quite right in the OEM dock, especially when kids are the ones doing the docking. With a cable, you know perfectly well whether you’ve plugged it in properly or not, so the short wait for the HDMI display to go live doesn’t feel as anxious.
Like most USB chargers, if you plug the Covert into the wall with an electrical load already attached via USB, it produces an audible electrical “pop.” We strongly recommend plugging the Covert Dock into the wall before connecting your Switch or your display to the Covert—this should extend the life of the Covert, as well as making certain your precious Switch doesn’t get any out-of-bounds electrical signals.
We weren’t kidding about the near-impossibility of replacing a Switch right now—the Switch Lite tends to sell out within days of a store receiving stock, and the full Switch itself generally is gone within minutes.
If you’ve got a Switch that lives a normal, nonportable console life and just stays attached to one family TV 24/7, the Genki Covert Dock might not be for you. It’s a little bit cheaper than the official Nintendo dock—but instead of leaving your Switch nicely sandwiched inside the Nintendo dock, now you’re just setting it on a counter, with greater susceptibility to potential spills, falling items, etc. You also drop from three USB accessory connectors to one—probably not worth the $15 savings.
On the other hand, if you take your Switch with you everywhere you go, the Covert Dock starts looking very good indeed. It takes up virtually no additional room in a backpack, serves dual duty as a high-quality phone charger, and is much less cumbersome to connect to some arbitrary TV to get a few minutes’ playtime in.
If you brick a Switch right now, you won’t be able to replace it. We strongly recommend powering up this or any dock first and only connecting the Switch to the dock after the dock has stable electrical power.
- $15 cheaper than an OEM dock for the Switch
- Ultra-portable—fits in a pocket nearly as well as a backpack
- Designed by the folks who figured out why other third-party docks bricked Switches
- Fast charging
- Global power adapters—150+ countries covered
- Right-angle USB-C connector on included cable is a nice touch
- Doesn’t lift your Switch off the counter or protect the screen like an OEM dock does
- Fewer USB accessory ports than an OEM dock
- We really didn’t like the electrical “pop” when plugging the Genki Covert Dock in with a load (such as the Switch) already attached
- Limited availability of replacement consoles is no joke—it could take months to replace a Switch
Listing image by Genki