Will Wright, designer of the wildly popular The Sims series of games, said "The only next generation system I've seen is the Wii- the PS3 and the Xbox 360 feel like better versions of the last." The Wii is truly unlike anything that has come before. Instead of focusing on high definition graphics and pure processing power, Nintendo designed the Wii around an intuitive motion control system. While there was some initial skepticism from critics and gamers alike, the Wii has turned out to be a runaway success, with more than 30 million consoles shipped since launch in November 2006 - and it's still hard to find one in a retail store today.
Unlike the other game systems of this generation, the Wii outputs all games at a maximum of 480p over component video, and has options for 4:3 or 16:9 display. It also has no DVD player function, limiting its use to purely gaming. As such, the Wii is a good match for a 480p projector, though there are only two still in production in the United States - the Epson MovieMate 50 and Sharp's DT100. Either of these projectors will display Wii games in their full native resolution. The MovieMate 50 sells for $699 new, while the DT100 is still listed at $949.
While the Wii can reach its full potential using nothing more than a 480p projector, there are still good reasons to make the jump to 720p. If you plan to use your projector with an HD cable box or Blu-Ray player, or have plans to obtain them in the future, it makes sense to get a budget 720p projector like the Mitsubshi HC1500 now. In the world of projectors, 854x480 is on its way out.
The Wii also has some unusual placement requirements. First of all, the Wii lends itself to being played while standing, and doing so with a projector in a rear shelf mount can be difficult - the player ends up standing in the projector's light path. Secondly, the Wii's motion controls require that a sensor bar be placed near the screen, to track the movements of the controller. The included sensor bar is wired to the Wii itself, and while the cable is nearly 12 feet long, this precludes placing the Wii on an equipment rack in the back of the room. Third-party vendors are now selling wireless sensor bars that work very well, but they drain batteries at a prodigious rate. To use the Wii with a projector and the standard wired sensor bar, the logical choice is either a coffee-table mounted projector or one of the new short-throw projectors such as the XL50 from Sanyo or the 400W from Epson. These projectors can display a very large image while being inches away from your screen, and this makes them uniquely suited for use with the Wii. Prices on these short-throw models are $1400 for the 400W and $2900 for the XL50.
Nintendo's Wii is a unique system with widespread appeal, and it has been selling like hotcakes since launch day with no signs of stopping. However, using the Wii with a projector requires some forethought. If you plan ahead and pick a suitable projector, there's no reason why you can't have a Wii and a projector working in harmony.
Console gaming and PC gaming are entirely different animals, and projectors that are good for PC gaming might not be so good for consoles. However, one does not often consider that game consoles all have their own unique specifications, so a projector that is ideal for the Xbox 360 might be terrible for the Wii. Hopefully, we've shed some light on the need to match your game console to an appropriate projector, in order to get the most out of your gaming experience without breaking the bank.