A First Look at the Wii U

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It’s alive! Nintendo is finally selling its brand new home gaming console. Called the Wii U, it’s both the successor to company’s extremely successful Wii and the first new gaming console to hit stores in years – beating the PlayStation and Xbox to market with next generation entertainment.

Wii U? I suppose that you could call it the Wii 2, if that’s easier. Both the console and its controller – the thing you hold in your hand — are entirely new, with a wealth of new capabilities. Thankfully, though, you can still to use your old Wii Remotes, Nunchucks, and games with the new system.

The new GamePad. The biggest game-changer that Nintendo’s bringing to the console world with the Wii U is the brand new GamePad. Sure, it’s a controller with shoulder buttons, analog sticks, and face buttons — just like you’ll find on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The big news, though, is that the GamePad packs its own 6.2-inch touch display.

That big touchscreen can be used as a map in some games, an inventory manager for others, or even the scope of your rifle in a first-person shooter.

Even better? You’ll be able to play the Wii U on the GamePad without using the television at all. Suppose you want to play Mario while your room mate wants to watch a favorite TV show. You can switch Mario to your GamePad’s screen and switch the TV to your roomie’s favorite show at the press of a button.

That’s a big win for families with multiple needs.

A whole new entertainment system. What else does the Wii U bring to the table? For starters, this is Nintendo’s first foray into HD gaming. That means Mario and Link will look absolutely spiffy in 720p or 1080p. It also means you’ll be able to watch Netflix in HD.

Even better, Nintendo has totally revamped the way it handles online gaming. Users get their own unique Nintendo Network ID that lets them to connect with friends. You’ll also be able to see what the rest of the world thinks about whatever game you’re playing by way of Nintendo’s new Wii U social network.

Finally, Nintendo’s intends to deliver all of your home entertainment needs via the Wii U’s GamePad. With your TV on, you’ll be able to use the GamePad to surf the web, change channels, explore your DVR, watch shows on Hulu, watch movies on Netflix, and engage with live sports in new ways. In other words, the Wii U’s GamePad becomes a fully interactive second screen for your television.

There’s a whole lot to love about the Wii U. It’s not just about gaming; Nintendo’s new console is the company’s most visible effort to date to redefine the way your family lives in the family room.

It could be the next big thing.

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