The UX of Web Browsing on the Wii

Recently, we got the Wii for the family.  It has been a really interesting and well designed experience so far.  Alot of great innovations are baked into this thing.  The last week, we added a few new features.

First, I downloaded the internet channel. The Wii connects to our family Wi-Fi network just like a laptop.  It uses Opera as the browser. Interesting choice.  Why Opera?  Why not Firefox?  Anyway, it works pretty well.  I used it briefly with Gmail, Youtube and Marketo.  All seemed to work well, but there was a catch.  I didn’t realize how small the resolution is on an HD giant flat screen.  1080i is about what you get on a 1024×768 screen.  But this was less than that.  It was 480p, which is equivalent to about an 800×600 experience.  Maybe a bit worse actually.  How is it that my giant LCD project screen, doesn’t have resolution of a laptop?  Why is 1080i the standard HD?  Can’t we go higher?  How long will 1080i reign supreme for programming?  Who knows?  I am just happy to get anything at all, I suppose.

I actually added in the Wii HD component cable.  However, I haven’t seen any noticeable difference in the display.  I also told the Wii that the screen is widescreen, but it is basically ignoring me.  Hmm, I wonder what I am doing wrong.

We also added a third controller, and a fourth is on the way.  This way, we can all play tennis together. I think we need more room though, and a bigger TV.  Maybe we could run an extension over to the park, and put the TV on the tennis court.  Then we could play Wii Tennis with lots of room to spread out.  Yes, I think this is a good plan.

3 replies on “The UX of Web Browsing on the Wii”

Circuits and components for producing HD resolutions are expensive. The whole ethic of the Wii is that it’s a casual gaming platform, designed for pick up and play style games that appeal to all demographics, not just males aged 10-30. It does this very well for a number of reasons; it is designed to be simple, intuitive, and most of all cheap. While the PS3 can chuck out 1080p without breaking a sweat, look at the difference in MSRP.

This is just a compromise you’ll have to put up with in exchange for all the great gaming experiences you’ll get on the Wii. You’ve already got your family playing tennis on it with the Wiimote. Try getting them into Ridge Racer using PS3 dual shock pads. It won’t happen.

And ditto the above for your TV vs computer monitor query. TVs are designed for one thing only – playing back video, and you don’t need a high resolution for that, so the focus is placed instead on making the panel bigger, for a bigger image.

Computers spend most of their time displaying 2D GUIs, which demand much higher resolutions, but since they only have one person using them (typically) from just a few feet away. As a result, the cost of a computer monitor goes into a higher resolution but smaller panel. Two different device categories for two different functions.

A full HD LCD TV at say 42″ will support 1920×1080, which is fine for sofa-browsing/emailing – you just need a really powerful graphics system to drive it. Which the Wii doesn’t have (see previous comment).

Whatya think?