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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 7, 2011 at 3:31 PM

E3: Nintendo Wii U pictures, specs, hands on

LOS ANGELES — After playing a few games with Nintendo’s new Wii U console, I’m already thinking about where it will fit in the stack of gear below my TV.

The controller isn’t as heavy as it looks, but seems solid enough to withstand drops and kids. It has ridges in the back that make it easy to grip, and there’s a stylus that slips into the back of the case, next to a slot for a USB cable.

Demo games on the system feel like extensions of 3DS titles. You swing the controller around, using it to aim at targets, or shake it or swing it downward to activate controls.

A demo shooting game had some of the augmented reality of the 3DS, but with a larger, easier-to-see display. There was a pirate ship with a target in the middle of the TV screen, which was mirrored on the controller’s display. But when you moved the controller sideways and watched its display, the landscape continued beyond what was shown on the TV. This was overlaid with a sort of rhythm game that required you to lift and drop the controller on certain beats to block arrows, which was very tricky for the rhythmically challenged.

In another demo mini game, you pilot a flying saucer using the left and right thumbsticks to go forward, backward, up and down and pull triggers on top of the controller to shoot targets or the avatars of other players. To look around, you’d move the whole controller around. It was fun but took a little getting used to; it took some concentration to stay focused on the controller screen and not look back and forth at the TV display.

Here are the system specs provided by Nintendo.

The console is about 1.8 inches tall, 6.8 inches wide and 10.5 inches long, with a slot-loading disc player that works with proprietary discs. Inside is a multicore IBM processor.

The Wii U also works with SD memory cards and external hard drives, which can be connected via USB; the console has four USB 2.0 ports.

Video output ranges from 1080p to 480i. To connect to a TV you can use HDMI, component, S Video or composite cables.

It supports up to four Wii Remote controllers at once, plus the new touchscreen controller. All Wii controllers and input devices are supported, including the Balance Board.

The controller has a 6.2-inch, 16:9 touchscreen. Here’s now Nintendo describes its mix of buttons and other features:

“The rechargeable controller includes a Power button, Home button, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons. It includes a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, rumble feature, camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip and a stylus.”

A single self-loading media bay will play 12-centimeter proprietary high-density optical discs for the new console, as well as 12-centimeter Wii optical discs.

A journalist giving it a try:

Reggie Fils-Aime during the press conference:

IMG01013-20110607-1001.jpg

The line in Nintendo’s booth to try the console:

IMG_1410.JPG

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