Nintendo unveils new Wii U GamePad

The new tablet controller, which features a 6.2-inch touch-sensitive screen, sports an NFC reader and can be used as a TV remote.

Nintendo's new GamePad. Nintendo

Nintendo unveiled a new Wii U GamePad today that sports a near-field communications reader and that can be used as a TV remote.

The new game console tablet features a 6.2-inch touch-sensitive screen and a fully independent infrared TV remote, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed during a streamed presentation (see below) in advance of this week's E3 game conference. Known mostly for use in electronic wallets, the NFC technology in the GamePad will be able to read and write data from cards and figures.

"Some people will wonder if Wii U is a simple evolution of Wii or something entirely different," Iwata said. "I think maybe the correct answer is both."

The GamePad also senses movement with motion and gyro sensors. By using more intuitive motions to control a game, players of all skill levels can better play together, he said.

The device also features two stick-type elements instead of the 3DS-like circle pads. Iwata called the circle pads more appropriate for portable devices where players need a low profile for the hardware.

Iwata also highlighted the features of "Miiverse" -- the Wii U's online social network, which allows players to create Mii avatars. While the screen will show the familiar lineup of games and applications, the TV screen will show a list of games and the Mii avatars playing those games at that moment. This creates a "Miiverse" for users, which is a combination of Mii and universe, he explained.

Communication between Miis can happen with simple text messages, but players can also write with their hands.

The company also introduced the Wii U Pro, a controller for those who prefer a more traditional experience. Shaped more like the Xbox 360 controller, the Pro sports Nintendo feature buttons and a pair of joysticks. It was showed off in black.

Expect Nintendo to reveal more details of the devices, such as pricing and availability, at the E3 conference later this week.

 

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