Chicago (IL) - Nintendo and Norwegian software company Opera today released a web browser for the Wii console, based on the Opera 9 for Devices evaluation kit. The browser is available for free until mid-2007 and can be used in combination with the Wii remote.
Nintendo continues to enhance the unique functionality of the Nintendo Wii that now extends into the Internet. Wii owners can use the Opera browser similar to the way you could direct the mouse pointer with a 3D mouse - a rare variant of computer mice that typically are attached to one of your fingers. Wii users can simply point the remote at an object on the page and zoom in on that object with the "+" button. Once zoomed in, the Wii Remote allows you to pan around the page while remaining in zoom mode.
Scrolling and selecting bookmarks works in a similar way. Input of URLs or form content is done via a on-screen keyboard and predictive text feature to auto-complete words and URLs. What makes the browser especially interesting is the fact that the software can run even the most recent dynamic websites, including Flash and AJAX enabled destinations. For example, Opera supports Google Maps, which should provide a new way of planning your next vacation.
The Wii browser is available as a free "trial" download until June 30, 2007. After that, Nintendo will be offering the software via the Wii Shop Channel for 500 Wii points.
Web developers interested in creating webpages optimized for the Wii console should check their content with the W3C validator and "check that Flash content is compatible with Flash 7," Nintendo said.
We took the browser for a test spin and found it to be quite promising.
We downloaded the browser, but not until after we had received an error message a couple times, either because it is a brand new download or because there are high volumes of people trying to access it. So, for those who are getting error messages, just keep trying. We got it to work on our third try.
It is an unusual experience browsing the Web with the Wii, because of the physical motion required to enter addresses, scroll through pages, and create/access bookmarks. However, it is very intuitive for a process that would be much more cumbersome with a more conventional game controller and interface. It is similar to the difference between the PSP and the DS. While the DS allows users to just tap on the screen to enter text, PSP owners need to scroll through letters one at a time, requiring a substantial amount of time to enter a single Web address.
Like Nintendo said, Flash is supported even in the preview build, and our experience with sites like YouTube and Flash game site Joytube showed no serious flaws, though the latter did run a bit slow at times on the Wii.
It’s a bare bones browser right now. Currently you can just enter Web addresses and bookmark pages. There is no history, parental controls, or even any additional settings at all that we can find. However, users can zoom in and out using the + and - buttons and scrolling takes intuitive use of the B button. We found the one-button zoom feature to be especially impressive and something that does give the Wii browser a unique flavor.
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