Wii Goes to the Opera

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A trial version of the Opera Web browser is now available for download for Nintendo’s Wii video game console. Assuming Wii owners have connected their systems’ to a home network or otherwise set them up for Internet access, the browser can be downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel on the Wii menu; from there, click Wii Ware (or Wii Software in the EU), then click Download the Internet Channel. (There’s even a comic explaining the process.)

The current trial version of Opera for the Wii is free; a final release of Opera for the Wii is expected to be released in March 2007. The software will remain free through June 30, 2007, after which it will be available from the Wii Shop Channel for 500 Wii points—however, anyone who downloads the browser for free before June 30, 2007, can continue using it at no cost.

Opera for the Wii features an on-screen keyboard which can be operated using the Wii remote; a predictive text feature helps with text entry. The browser also features new Intelligent Zoom technology which enables users to point to an object or area on a Web page and Zoom into the item with the + button on the Wii remote; users can pan around the page in zoom mode. Opera for the Wii also features a single column mode derived from the Opera’s Small Screen Rendering technology developed for Opera Mobile; basically, it enables users to view a Web page’s contents as as a single vertical bar which can be scrolled up and down, rather than being forced to scroll up and down and side to side to scan certain wide Web pages. Opera for the Wii also supports Flash content, and supports Ajax-based applications like Google Maps.

“Opera on Wii adds a new dimension and functionality to a video game console system. It is a unique Web experience that everyone can use, and the Intelligent Zoom feature allows consumers to read Web content on the TV from the comfort of their couch,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo America’s President, in a statement. “Whether surfing the Web or playing a Wii game, users of all kinds will find fun, new experiences with Wii.” Nintendo clearly hopes that “putting the Web on the living room TV” will expand the appeal of the Wii outside the traditional gaming audience. Only time will tell if that gamble can pay off, but Nintendo has always been willing to reach out to new audiences, and offering top-flight TV-based Web access and underselling both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 might be a winning formula for many consumers. Opera also makes a version of its browser for the Nintedo DS handheld, currently .

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