Product Nintendo Wii U
Specifications MD Radeon 6760 GPU, IBM Power-based multi-core micro processor, 2GB RAM with 1GB for games, HDMI output, AV Multi Out port, four USB 2.0 ports, 8GB or 32GB flash storage, 172x267x45mm, 1.6kg
Price From £220
THE NINTENDO WII U was initially unveiled to equal parts of excitement and confusion at the 2011 E3 games expo.
The arrival of the Wii U means that the veteran Japanese games console maker has released a new console at least a year before its chief competitors Microsoft and Sony have even announced their speculated eighth generation Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 devices.
This, combined with the fact that the Wii U has hardware with specifications fairly similar to those of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 has meant that certain naysayers have accused Nintendo of playing catch up, claiming that the Wii U is at best a late entry into the seventh generation of games consoles.
However, having thoroughly put the Wii U through its paces, we have to question these claims, having found plenty of interesting and innovative features that more than make up for its less than bleeding-edge hardware.
Hardware and design
Off the bat, it's important to note that the Wii U is not a powerhouse console. Like it did for the original Wii, Nintendo has invested in discovering new gameplay features rather than top-end components.
This means that outside of its improved 1GB of RAM, which beats the Xbox 360's piddly 512MB, the Wii U is pretty much on a par powerwise with its present competitors, running on a tweaked AMD Radeon 6760 GPU and IBM Power based multi-core microprocessor.
In terms of inputs and ports the Wii U is also pretty standard. On its front the Wii U hosts a slot-loading optical disc drive with Power, Eject and Controller pairing controls. Hidden beneath a flap it also boasts two USB 2.0 ports and an SD Memory Card slot that can be used to transfer music, images and even old Wii game files. These are backed up on the console's rear by an HDMI output, an AV Multi Out port, a connector for the reworked Sensor Bar and two more USB 2.0 ports.
Despite having similar hardware specifications and packing fairly standard inputs and ports, the Wii U is a design marvel. The Wii U is a few inches deeper and slightly taller and wider than the original Wii. This means that compared to other consoles the Wii U is very compact. Additionally, running the Wii U we found it was much quieter than the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, and didn't heat up to nearly the same temperatures as its competitors with prolonged use.
Next: The controller