BOSTON — Astro, best known for making high-quality gaming headsets, has usually put PCs first and foremost, followed closely by the PS4 and Xbox One. However, just as software companies have been eager to put third-party titles on the Nintendo Switch, hardware manufacturers have started to investigate how they might adapt their products to suit the hybrid handheld system. Astro has just announced a partnership with Nintendo — but what that might mean, apart from some cool accessories, is hard to say just yet.
I learned about Astro's new venture at PAX East 2018, where I spoke with company representatives about how the company has already made itself accessible for Switch owners, and where it might go next. In order to demonstrate its excitement about the new deal, Astro put together a handful of Nintendo-themed displays, featuring mannequin heads with Mario and Link hats, as well as corresponding earcup covers.
The good news is that while Astro has never made Nintendo compatibility a priority up to this point, most of its products already work with the Switch. Headsets like the Astro A10 work with the Switch right out of the box, since they connect via 3.5 mm jack. A representative also informed me that the company's flagship wireless A50 may work, too — although it requires a tedious workaround.
Astro's first step in its Nintendo partnership will be to release themed headsets and speaker tags (which fit into the earcups of existing Astro peripherals). Some that I saw on the show floor featured graphics from The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. 3, and it's probably a safe bet that more NES classic graphics are on the way.
The next step, of course, will likely be to craft a headset specifically for the Switch. Whether it's a wireless one designed to take advantage of the USB ports on the dock, or a 3.5-mm model that gamers can plug into the system's handheld configuration, remains to be seen. It's not too hard to imagine a versatile, potentially expensive, headset that could do both.
Finding the best headset for the Nintendo Switch can be a fraught process, since no existing model does a perfect job for both handheld and docked modes. Astro could finally nail the process — or just put out more stylish speaker tags. We'll wait and see.