/// Gaming Proves Touchy With The New Wii U

November 20, 2012  |  All Things Digital

From crockpots to thermostats, it seems like everything now has a touch screen instead of physical buttons. This week, Nintendo joined the club with a new videogame console, the Wii U, which uses a 6.2-inch touch-screen controller. [ See post to watch video ] This remote control, called the GamePad, upgrades the overall gaming experience with features commonly found on smartphones like touch gestures, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a stylus for handwriting and a front-facing camera. Instead of using antiquated directional buttons to navigate the system, a tap on the screen can send a character into a game. A touch-screen keyboard simplifies writing messages and setting up accounts. Activity on the GamePad’s screen is reflected on the TV, which means that more people can watch what players are doing in a game. Or you can play only on the GamePad, which frees up the big screen for people who want to watch TV, though the controller can’t be used on its own far away from the console. Yet despite the Wii U’s refreshing features, its sluggish behavior makes it a product I can’t fully recommend. And some promised programs couldn’t be tested because they don’t function yet—a delay that could frustrate some people. Starting the system up for the first time took well over two hours because Wii U was downloading updates. In my four timed tests, the GamePad only held its charge for three hours and 30 minutes of use, and then needed about 2½ hours to recharge. (It also works when plugged in, but isn’t as fun to use.) Opening each new program took close to 15 seconds. And I was constantly plagued by alerts that my GamePad had disconnected from the Wii console, even when I was four or six feet away from it in my small, city townhouse. If you already own a Wii, its games and accessories—like the Wii Balance Board—are compatible with the new Wii U. Some programs that come loaded on the Wii U GamePad don’t work yet, including apps for YouTube, Amazon Instant Video and TVii, a tool that will let people use the GamePad to control their set-top boxes, TVs and DVRs (including TiVo)

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Gaming Proves Touchy With The New Wii U

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