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Nintendo unveils Wii U with tablet-sized touch-screen controller

June 7, 2011 | 11:31 am

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Nintendo revealed its new home console on Tuesday, dubbed the Wii U -- a new high-definition video game system that will use a new touch-screen controller to play games both on and off the TV screen.

The Wii U's white, plastic, controller is about the size of some tablet computers and features a 6.2-inch touch screen, as well as a standard array of gaming controller buttons. But a tablet the Wii U controller is not.

Images displayed on the Wii U's controller are all produced by the Wii U console itself and the screen is just that -- another screen.

Wii UThe display on the Wii U controller can work in a few different ways: as a complement to a game on a TV, adding extra information or control options; as a mirrored screen, displaying the same images as what's on a TV; or as the only gaming screen, for when a friend may want to watch a TV but a Wii U user might want to keep playing a video game.

The screen's options will allow users to game at home without being tied to their TVs, but because the controller relies on the Wii U console for everything displayed on the screen, it isn't a true portable gaming system on its own.

The touch-screen will also be compatible with a stylus and feature two cameras, one front and one rear, that can be used for augmented reality games or to conduct a video chat session with friends who also own Wii U systems.

An accelerometer and a gyroscope are built into the new controller, so motion control (which is a trademark of the current Wii system) will play a role in the new device as well.

But the Wii U won't rely just on the touch-screen controller. The new system will be backwards compatible with the current Wii's motion controllers and other accessories.

Times reporter Alex Pham covered Nintendo's big unveiling at the Nokia Theatre -- the presentation is part of the E3 video game conference in L.A. this week -- and reported that Nintendo said it will ship the Wii U sometime after Apri 1, 2012. The company did not offer a price for the new system.

From Pham's report on our sister blog Company Town:

The console is called Wii U, "for unique, unifying," said Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime at the company's press conference.

Nintendo hopes the new console will rev up sales for its products, which have fallen off a cliff after enjoying three years of double-digit growth that was fueled by demand from a broad audience of female and older consumers who bought into its novel motion controller and fitness games.

To read more about the Wii U's debut and what Nintendo hopes it will mean for its business, read Pham's report, "E3 2011: Nintendo's next game console to have touch-screen controller."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's global president, speaks during the unveiling of the company's new Wii U game console at E3 on June 7, 2011 in Los Angeles. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times

Image: The Nintendo Wii U and Wii U touch-screen controller. Credit: Nintendo

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