A Full Opera on the Wii


Over the weekend, Nintendo released the Internet Channel for the Wii. I’ve been playing around with it a little - whenever my netopia router wants to let the wii connect to it. While this isn’t the first time you can surf the web from the comfort of the couch, there was WebTV for example, it’s the first time we get to see an Internet Browser for a Nintendo Product here in the US. Japan already has the Opera Browser for the DS.

I was actually pretty hyped up to see how well browsing the modern web through a Standard Definition TV (SDTV) would be like as well as how well Opera had implemented the browser both in the Wii environment and with the remote as the only input. I think the browser is heading in the right direction so far with the UI and input choices eventhough it’s very stripped down in comparison to what you would find on a PC (no tabs, no history, options). What it does have however is favorites and flash player 7 support.

It’s very easy to use the remote as a pointer and the zoom capabilities really work great to make the text readable even on a 30” SDTV from 3 meters away. The two viewing modes are awesome - regular mode lets you see the page as it’s originally designed while there’s and improved reading mode that changes the layout of the page to one column with larger text for easier reading. Though the zooming in while in regular viewing mode makes the text perfectly readable. There is also a good type recognition that will try to anticipate what you want to type, very similar to what you would find on cell phones to keep single key pressing long words to a minimum.

There are a few things that do bother me right now and hope they get fixed in the future. Seeing as it’s still in trial there is no reason why they wouldn’t look at some things of the browser before it’s released as final. First one is that there is no button for entering a url in the bottom toolbar - you can only enter a url from the Homepage (where there’s a button to do so). Also, the favorites are saved with an image of the site and while it makes the experience very similar to the wii menu, it really slows down access to the favorites. I’ve so far put in roughly 8 or 10 favorites and it takes 3 or 4 seconds to be able to choose a favorite. This may not seem like a long time, but it can get really annoying when you are surfing through sites quickly, like checking webcomics, and you have to wait the same amount as the page load just to pick the next page you’re going to view.

As for the actual rendering of pages. I didn’t find too many sites that were incompatible with Opera on the Wii. The nice thing about modern browser engines - IE excluded - is that when you design to the standards, you pretty much get the same results regardless of what browser you use. It actually makes me feel pretty good as most sites I’ve worked on have come out pretty well.

At the end of the day though, I don’t really see me using Opera on the Wii as my main internet surfing tool. It’s pretty good for looking at youtube.com, since tv screens tend to be bigger then monitor screens, but the page layouts of youtube.com are a little inconvenient, at least for SDTVs. Other activities are better left for a computer, at least until there is a Wii compatible keyboard and mouse, though even then, the low resolution of the browser itself (remember the days of 800x600), is a little bit of a downside when using applications like web email. Though it’s still pretty good. I can see myself using the Internet channel. Though it’s too bad the Wii OS doesn’t allow for multi-tasking applications, it would be nice if you can let the browser run in the background with gamefaqs.com showing you the latest guides to the game you are currently playing, and be able to switch back and forth between the applications. guess that’s why you would still like to have a notebook around when such cases arises. In this case, Kate’s notebook will be staying in the living room for some time.

December 26, 2006 10:33 AM Nintendo


Comments left behind by readers like you

Something from the European rumor mill: Nintendo is going to set a conversion rate of 4:1 for Star points to Wii points according to German mag:

Posted by: xren | February 2, 2007 03:06 AM

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