Wii'd all about it!

Monday 5 January 2007
Last Saturday saw the launch of Wii's latest multimedia gizmo - the News Channel. With an impressive covering of the world's goings-on, you can now slob out in your underwear reading financial statements from the Japanese money markets. Or, if that particular datastream doesn't float your boat, there's a range of newsy options, from Regional and International, to Entertainment and Technology.

We fired up the GamesRadar towers Wii to have a news browse for ourselves this morning, and we've found it a simple to use but faintly ugly system. Ugly, because the newspaper-style text windows are uber-gray and bland, and could really do with spicing up in future updates to make it easier on the eyes. We've seen more interesting looking hotel-room TV menus, and a bit of that Nintendo colour and character would make a world of difference.

You can peruse the news in more eye-catching ways, though. Once in a story you can flick across to an interactive world globe, which spins and twirls around, with stacks of papers representing the articles located in each region. The best option, though, is a neat slideshow option - select this and you get a Sky News-style ticker that scrolls over the globe, picking out headlines and their locations, with the full story accessible by a single button press on the Wii-mote.

Oddly, there's no news topic for videogames - isn't that what we all want to read about? And the Technology section, covering our other big interest, is totally empty. Aside from these irks, though, the coverage and range of articles is good, and the Associated Press, who provide all the news text, is hoping to bring multimedia features into the mix in the future, too.

But while the Wiimote functions well, especially with the globe-view, the lack of a dedicated 'back' button means there's too much pointer-driven navigation for our liking. Even so, it's great to see Wii continue to widen its focus - can it be long before there's a dedicated YouTube Wiichannel?

Download the New Channel now, Wii gamers - it's free, and well worth checking out.