Review: GuliKit Route+ Pro (Hardware)
The Nintendo Switch has been a boon to third party peripheral manufacturers; the USB-C port is gateway to myriads of add-ons and the console has grooves to hold in place any accessories which manufacturers can come up with that fit in. This boon is also thanks to Nintendo’s exquisite ability to continue to screw things up upon release of the console in 2017; the mediocre battery life has inspired countless of battery packs, their sorry excuse for a kickstand has prompted companies to make dedicated stands for the console and the scratch-friendly screen is one of the reason almost every Switch owner coats their console with a protective film from Day 1.
A notable, and quite annoying, omission that I have personally come across is the lack of support for Bluetooth headsets in handheld mode. While Nintendo tried to right its wrongs in the 4.0.0 system update which finally added support for Bluetooth headsets over USB in docked mode, the company did not offer a solution for the same feature in handheld mode or for headphones that operate solely through bluetooth (i.e. without a USB dongle).
Being mostly a gamer on the go myself, the wireless ease of Bluetooth pieces is something that I have grown quite fond of for their portability and being unobstructed by the pesky dangling wires. I believe that there should be native support for such peripherals for any contemporary handheld gaming device. However, I do recognize the latency aspect when it comes to wireless audio, so I would only recommend it for non-competitive gaming or for playing games where the outcome does not rely too much on the sound. Nevertheless, for on-the-go gamers like myself on the lookout for a method to use wireless headsets on the Switch in handheld mode, one third party company has come with a solution to address this issue. Meet the GuliKit Route+ Pro.
This nifty little thing is your way to enjoy wireless earphones, headsets and even speakers that are Bluetooth enabled. It does so via its CSR chip and claims low latency with its aptX LL codec. There have been other solutions available that attempted to address this issue (see this video for example) but those operated through the audio jack and latency was an issue. The Route+ Pro on the other hand plugs through the USB-C port of the Switch and having tested it myself with games like Zelda, Moonlighter and SEGA Mega Drive Classics, I have not come across any noticeable lag and the sound quality ultimately depends on the headphones you are using.
Speaking of, here is a complete list of officially tested models, courtesy of GuliKit:
|MI||Bluetooth collar earphone|
|Bose||QuietComfort 35 II|
|B&O||PLAY beoplay H5|
From my side, having tested the Route+ Pro with pieces from the Bose SoundSport Free Headphones to a cheap, unbranded Chinese one, I have come across no issues regarding pairing, loss of connectivity while in use nor any issues with the audio itself.
There is also a neat voice chat option with the included mini microphone that can be plugged into the Switch’s 3.5mm audio jack, so games with this feature like Fortnite have also been catered for.
An aspect that I really commend in the Route+ Pro is its design. Weighing 7.8g, this add-on easily goes unnoticed both on the weight aspect and the visual aspect. While plugging this Bluetooth dongle through the Switch’s USB-C port can cause it to get in the way, especially when in a carry case, GuliKit took this inconvenience into consideration. The company provided a USB-C adapter that loops around the back of the console so that the Bluetooth dongle rests at the back of the console, out of sight and without any obstruction.
The 'loop' USB-C adapter
GuliKit also points out that this 'back loop' adapter is also compatible with some other Type-C devices as pictured below and you can let your imagination develop on the implications...
Moreover, the Bluetooth dongle even has a USB-C port on its underside so that one can charge the Switch all the while enjoying Bluetooth connectivity. Regarding power supply, the Route+ Pro is not fitted with a battery as it powers via the console itself, and requires a current of only 10 mAh to function.
There is also the option of using your Bluetooth audio device in docked mode by plugging the included regular USB to USB-C adapter into the dock’s USB port.
One thing that I fault is the numerous small pieces that one has to take care of; I count three with the mini mic, the dongle itself and the USB-C adapter that loops around the back. GuliKit does not provide a carry case for those but they can easily be stashed in a carry case.
The GuliKit Route+ Pro is quite unique in that it addresses an issue with the Nintendo Switch that I have not seen other companies, including Nintendo, try to tackle. Buying it ultimately depends on your preference when it comes to audio peripherals and your need for a solution to use Bluetooth audio devices will be the judge of the current price tag of £38.99.
You can get yours on Amazon right here!
+ Does what Nintendon’t
+ Compatible with all Bluetooth model tested
+ No external battery (powers using the Switch’s battery)
+ Compact and lightweight
+ Supports in-game voice chat
- Numerous small pieces
out of 10
The GuliKit Route+ Pro is really the first add-on of its kind and addresses a glaring omission in the Nintendo Switch, and it does so flawlessly. However, whether you need to buy this or not depends on your stance regarding wireless headsets and the types of games you play. But your purchase will be wholly justified should you opt to invest in one.