The Console Wars:
At only $249 with a game (Wii Sports) included, the Wii features wireless internet, a wireless controller, one "nunchuk" controller attachment, and composite cables. The Wii is the least expensive of the three next-gen consoles, as well as the most unique.
The Wii's claim to fame is its motion-sensing technology. The console includes a sensor bar that must sit just above or just below your screen. When the controller is aimed at the screen, it acts like a pointer, which you can move to control games and the console's interface. While it takes some getting used to, it is intuitive and there is not much of a learning curve.
The Wii does not have any high definition capabilities at all. In fact, it outputs standard 4:3 or 16:9 480i, and it can output 480p with the addition of a component cable. Since it's not as powerful as either the Xbox 360 or PS3, there are likely more than a few people out there wondering what all the fuss is about.
After testing one for the past week, the answer is simple: It's fun. No, it's not nearly as graphically "pretty" as the two more expensive game systems, but it is enjoyable to many people, some of whom normally dislike video games. As a friend put it, "There are two kinds of people -- those who like the Wii, and those who haven't played it yet."
The Wii also has some additional features. On top of the unit, hidden under flip-up panels, are ports for Nintendo Gamecube controllers and memory cards (shown here), and the slot-loading drive will read the smaller Gamecube discs, so you retain full backwards compatibility. There is an SD memory card slot for cameras, and the Wii has a simple photo editing program on it, as well.
The Wii is advertised as an unpretentious, fun game system that everyone can enjoy, and it delivers. Hardcore gamers may gripe about the lack of processing power and graphical prowess, and theater buffs will likely bemoan the lack of HD, but the Wii is rock-solid as a "game system for everyone."
The Wii system consists of three main parts: The console itself, the Wii remote controller (or "wiimote"), and the sensor bar. While the Wii console can be placed more or less wherever you find it convenient to do so, the sensor bar must be placed immediately above or immediately below your screen, and it attaches to the Wii with a cable roughly 12 feet in length.
In installations where your equipment rack is close to the screen, this can be an easily workable solution. However, in other situations where the screen and A/V components are nowhere near each other, how does one get a Wii to function properly?
The answer lies in how the sensor bar works. Despite the name, the Wii's sensor bar does not "sense" anything -- it is a simple array of infrared LEDs. The Wii controller actually determines its position relative to these LEDs, and wirelessly transmits this data back to the Wii console. A further inspection of the wire running to the sensor bar reveals that it only carries power, not data. The Wii's saving grace for home theater comes from the fact that the sensor bar does not need to be connected to the Wii at all, if you provide an alternate power source.
There is at least one company that is currently manufacturing wireless sensor bars at approximately $30. They use a simple array of infrared LEDs and a battery to power them. If you're handy, you could easily make one with $10 worth of parts, a soldering iron, and less than an hour of your time. Just place this infrared source near the screen and enjoy. It would also be wise to pick up a set of component cables for $25, as this will enable 480p display and look much cleaner and sharper on HDTVs of all sorts.
Nintendo's Wii is somewhat of an odd duck. It is not HD-capable, nor is it incredibly powerful, nor is it expensive. It is simple, affordable, and fun. Hardcore gamers will likely enjoy it, but thirst for more. But the casual gamer (and his or her friends and family) will certainly get a lot of enjoyment out of the Wii.
Sony Playstation 3
|Contents:||Xbox 360||Sony Playstation 3||Nintendo Wii|