Nintendo Wii U extends screen, stops short of mobile gaming

Wii U offers a touchscreen, button controls, a camera and other features

Nintendo promised to offer gamers more content and new kinds of interaction with the introduction of Wii U, a handheld gaming device that pairs with the Wii game console.

"Up until now home console games had to occupy the TV screen to be played," said Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata during the company's E3 press conference. "But the new controller for Wii U with a 6.2-inch screen built in means you won't need to give up your game play when someone else enters the room."

The device is still in its prototype stage and won't launch until 2012, but the company was eager to show off its capabilities.

In one demonstration a user switched a television display from Wii content to a baseball game and the other person continued playing the Wii game on the Wii U.

In a golf game a user placed the Wii U on the ground and the golf ball appeared in its display. As he swung the Wii remote the ball moved off the Wii U's screen as if it were actually hit.

The device has a 6.2-inch touchscreen, button controls, an accelerometer, camera, microphone and other features. It is backward compatible with all Wii hardware.

Nintendo made clear that the gaming device can't operate on its own, but always has to be paired with a Wii game console.

E3 runs until June 9.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

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