- improved zooming and scrolling
- an improved zoomed font
- shortened startup times
- quicker access to "favorites"
- an ability to hide the toolbar
- buttons that will instantly type common preset letters, such as "www" or ".com"
Nintendo has also announced that this new and improved version of the Wii browser will be available in April, a few weeks earlier than previously announced. The browser will remain free through June. After that it will be available for 500 Wii points in the Wii shopping channel.
I have used the Wii browser on a few occasions and it is easy to use as long as you do not have to type anything longer than a URL or a search term. Using the virtual keyboard on screen is easy and there is feedback on the Wii-mote when passing over letters. The only problem is that... you are using a Wii-mote to pick letters off of a screen!
Many sites that use Flash simply do not work on the Wii browser. One of the best examples is Pokemon.com. This site is 100% Flash with no other option for browsing. Because the Wii browser does not fully support flash you can visit the Pokemon site. I find this very annoying as Pokemon is a huge game for Nintendo!
Some Flash based sites, such as YouTube, do work fine.
Another limitation on the current Wii browser is the inability to upload or download files. I have an SD card in my Wii and I have tried using USB thumb drives in the USB port, no dice. I would like the Wii to be able to access both of these areas for file uploading and downloading.
I do not consider the Wii browser to be a must use item on the Wii but it is a nice feature. I would much rather see them focus on getting us some DVD playback software! Yes, I know some people like to point out that most people already own a DVD player but, mine broke a while back and I would like to use my Wii for all of my home entertainment needs!
Another feature I would like to see on the Wii browser is StumbleUpon integration. I love StumbleUpon and use it on all of my computers. It's like channel surfing on the web. I do remember hearing something about Stumble Video support being added to the Wii browser but I have not heard any new news in that area.
Overall, the Wii browser works fine on my standard def TV. I typically use the zoom feature and run in widescreen mode. Yes, running in widescreen mode does more than just squish your picture, I have seen my server logs and the resolution is different between regular and widescreen modes.
The Wii continues to surprise me. It's amazing how a console without that much more power than the Game Cube is able to capture so much market share. I guess Nintendo finally figured out that we want to play games that are fun to play not just cool to look at.