The Wii U's controller is one of its most interesting features. The controller is markedly different than any Gamepad we've ever seen before, looking more like a blown-up handheld console in its own right.
This is because the Gamepad features a large 6.2in standard definition 854x480 LCD resistive touchscreen as well as the standard D-pad, dual analogue joystick, four face buttons, trigger and bumper inputs.
The screen is the primary way you interact with the Wii U and comes equipped with a basic stylus that can be stored in a special slot on the top right of the controller. Being a resistive, not capacitive touchscreen, we were concerned that the controller's touch display might be fairly unresponsive.
However, while we found that the Wii's touchscreen is nowhere near as responsive as the capacitive touchscreens seen on dedicated tablets like the iPad Mini or Nexus 7, it is more than usable. The touchscreen display proved responsive enough to read inputs from our fingers as well as the stylus with minimal effort on our part.
In addition to acting as the primary means through which you navigate the console's menu, the screen adds a host of new gameplay and multimedia features to the Wii U. One of the most useful features is the Wii U Gamepad's mirror display option.
The mirror display feature lets you play games on the Wii U even when the TV is switched off or tuned to another input. It does this by streaming the images from the main console to the controller and this means you can still play Mario while your other half or kids are watching the TV or playing on a different console.
Another interesting feature is the ability to set up the Gamepad as a fully functioning TV controller. Setting up the controller is fairly easy, simply requiring you to enter the TV manufacturer's name and scan for the correct frequency. Once this is done you can use the Wii U controller to change inputs, adjust the volume and access your TV's built-in tuner to check TV listings.
Aside from the touchscreen the controller also features a built-in tilt accelerometer and gyroscope controls, NFC support and a front-facing camera for video calling.
Our only gripe with the Wii U controller is its battery life. The controller can be charged via either a microUSB connection or a bespoke charging dock that is included with the premium bundle. In general we found that the controller lasted for about four to five hours on one charge and took about the same amount of time to charge from empty.
This means that if you're planning on having an all day gaming session you will need to keep the tablet controller plugged in.
Next: Interface and software
Tags: Numb Thumbs
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