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Red Ninja
Cover Story: It Came From Outer Space!
OMG, it's the Launchageddon!

Inside the system and under the hood.


by Amy McDonough,  11.06.2006

In the scheme of present-day console marketing, Nintendo's name may have become synonymous with innovation and creativity, but not design appeal. The Wii's core system breaks from past Romper Room-esque toy schematics (such as the GameCube) with a sleeker, compact, and modern design. In this age of amassing consumer electronics in the living room, bigger isn't always better. At about 8.5 inches long, 6 inches wide, and less than 2 inches thick, it's about the same size of a hardback novel, and makes the competitions' larger systems seem bloated and superfluous by comparison.

THE DOWNLOW

The Video

The Wii is designed to meet the greater demands for processing power from today's software and is about twice as powerful as the GameCube. Keeping it simple, the console ships with composite AV cables that make it easy for you to plug the Wii in and start playing on a standard television set. However, Nintendo isn't ignoring the growing audience that owns wide-screen televisions. The Wii supports 16:9 anamorphic widescreen format in 480 progressive scan resolution, but to get this resolution quality, you need a separate set of 480p component cables that are only available through online retailers. However consumers choose to view their games, the Wii's graphics won't be the equivalent of the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. However, Nintendo's focus on standard compatibility and lack of HD resolution support makes the Wii more accessible to the average consumer than the other next-gen systems.

The Audio
Although the Wii does not have the optical output necessary for digital audio, it does support Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound over the traditional analog channels. But Nintendo does something different with sound, putting the Wii Remote to work in a new way by providing built-in speakers within the controller. Players will have an immersive surround sound experience as they hear the crack of the bat not only through their TV or sound system, but also in their hand.

Networking
Even though the Wii is Nintendo's smallest home console system to date, the hardware is packed with possibilities. Big names such as IBM made the Wii's PowerPC CPU (codenamed "Broadway"), and the graphics processor developed with ATI help make the Wii a solid design at a reasonable price. Unlike the different versions--and price tags--of the Xbox 360 or the PS3, the Wii has one standard version. Every unit will have the same features and power out of the box, making the Wii easy to network and connect for Internet access. Whether users want to connect with their Nintendo DS or other Wii-playing friends, or download classic titles, they will be able to do it wirelessly via its built-in IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi or a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is free and includes features such as the WiiConnect24 automatic software updater, Virtual Console for downloading beloved retro Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, TubroGrafx-16, and Nintendo 64 titles (for a fee) and the Wii Browser (free until June 2007). No wireless? No worries. That's where the Wii Ethernet Kit comes in. It allows users to connect the console to a standard Internet router without wireless support.

The Box

So what exactly can you expect when you pick up a Wii? The initial box includes console and stand, one Wii Remote, one Nunchuk, one sensor bar, AC adapter, standard AV cables, and startup disc. Additionally, the standard bundle units sold in North America include a copy of Wii Sports. This has been termed in select boxes, though, and could be discontinued at some point in the future.

The Controller

Powered by Bluetooth, the Wii Remote is wireless and designed with force-feedback, an integrated accelerometer, and senses linear motion as well as tilt. The feedback is registered through a tracking image sensor and registered on a sensor bar which is placed near the TV. The Wii Remote establishes a point in space relative to the game and then transmits the player feedback accurately within the bounds of the game. Retro games are played by simply turning the controller sideways to become the traditional paddle controller of past Nintendo consoles.

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Processors:
  • CPU: 729MHz PowerPC-based "Broadway" processor made with a 90nm SOI CMOS process, jointly developed with and manufactured by IBM.
  • GPU: 243MHz ATI "Hollywood" processor.
Memory:
  • 1T-SRAM
Ports and peripheral capabilities:
  • Up to four Wii Remote controllers (connected via Bluetooth)
  • One SD memory card slot
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • One Sensor Bar port
  • Four Nintendo GameCube controller ports
  • Two Nintendo GameCube memory card ports
  • Compatible with USB 2.0 to Ethernet LAN adaptor
Storage:
  • 512 MB internal flash memory
  • Expansion available via SD card memory
  • Slot-loading disc drive compatible with 8-cm GameCube optical disc and 12 cm Wii optical disc.
Built-in content ratings systems:
  • CERO, PEGI, ESRB
Video:
  • Up to 480p (NTSC) or 576p (PAL/SECAM), will work with most TV or projector.
  • Component (including Progressive scan), S-Video, or composite output
  • 16:9 anamorphic widescreen support
  • Note: Component cables must be purchased separately. GameCube component cables are not compatible with the console.
Audio:
  • Main: Stereo, Dolby Pro Logic II-capable
  • Controller: Built-in speaker







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