Wii Internet Browser mini-review

I sat down the newly released Wii browser (free trial) this morning and did a bit of fiddling. I wouldn’t feel so confident writing a mini-review after only an hour, but the browser is so simple and feature-limited that I will be so bold to say that I’ve seen most of its functionality.

Here are some keywords:

* **View modes:** You can switch to single-column display of web pages by pressing the 2 button. This is similar to what Opera Mini does on mobile phones, it compresses wide pages so that you end up with one narrow, long column of content that you can scroll. The net result is much more readable text, especially on text-heavy websites, but of course broken layouts on pages that are using heavily table-based designs.
* **Page scrolling:** Hold the B button and move the pointer around. Woo, it’s basic mouse pointer functionality. This does the job, but why not take advantage of the tilt sensors in the Wiimote or (see below) the nunchuk for this?
* **No Nunchuk support?** No matter what I do on the nunchuk, I get no response from the browser. Page scrolling could be put there, so both of your hands could do some of the heavy couch nerding work.
* **Zoom:** Use + and – to zoom in and out on pages. No big surprises here. Perhaps Nunchuk-controlled variable zoom levels for the next version?
* **No proper fullscreen mode?** The navigation bar with “back”, “forward”, “stop/reload” and “home” seems to always be present in the lower part of your screen, taking up pixels, which are a scarce resource on a TV. How about auto-hide or a hide button? Watching YouTube movies in fullscreen would be much prettier that way.
* **Flash bugs?**: Many of the YouTube videos I tried failed to load fully. The Flash player would skip to the “Share/Play Again” screen at the end of the clip, after only seconds of loading. I will have to see if this is due to my connection or due to the browser itself. Other pages and a lot of Flash content loaded fine, though.

But all in all, the thing is fast, functional and free (for now). With web-based RSS readers that have special layouts for mobile devices, you can even read news comfortably, no squinting necessary. Same goes for webmail services. The rest of the web, well, it’ll just have to deal with the fact that it’s either squeezed or zoomed.

Wii Internet Browser? Mission accomplished.

Are you looking for screenshots? Chris McElligott has posted some on flickr. You can see the unreasonably huge and low-contrast navigation bar there, too.


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