WiiPhoto turns your TV into a digital photo frame

Calling all Wii owners! WiiPhoto beams pics from your iPhone, iPod, or iPad straight to your console-connected TV. It can tap your Flickr and Facebook accounts, too.

If you ever wished for a way to view your iPhone snapshots on a bigger screen (without first copying them to your PC), here's your answer. WiiPhoto transmits photos to your HDTV by way of your Wii game console.

It's a terrific idea, but one marred by a couple of gotchas and the limitations of the console itself.

The app works with any iOS device that's connected to your home Wi-Fi network: iPhone, iPod, iPad, and so on. You'll also need the Wii Internet Channel on your console if you don't already have it.

WiiPhoto taps your Wii console to show photos from a variety of sources.
WiiPhoto taps your Wii console to show photos from a variety of sources. Galarina

When you fire up WiiPhoto, it displays your device's IP address, which you type into the Wii's browser. Once that connection is made, all that remains is to choose a source for the photos you want to view: Facebook, Flickr, SmugMug, your Mac, or your on-device photo library.

I started with my iPhone's Camera Roll. I tapped a photo, and sure enough, after a couple of seconds, it appeared on my TV. Neat!

However, I quickly discovered that there's no slideshow option--you have to select pictures manually by tapping on thumbnails. (You can't even swipe to cycle between them.)

Then I tried Facebook. Although I had no trouble signing into my account, WiiPhoto displayed none of my personal albums, and all my friends' albums were labeled "photos not available to you." I'm not sure if this was the result of some oddball FB privacy setting or a bug in the app. According to the developer (who responded very quickly to my support needs), I'm the only one who's reported the problem.

Things fared better with Flickr, and I liked the app's option to show not just my photos, but also "interesting photos," "photos nearby," and "popular places." Here, as in Facebook and SmugMug, you can indeed watch a slideshow (though you can't adjust the default 10-second interval).

Two other issues cropped up during my testing. First, because the best display resolution the Wii can muster is 480p, photos just don't look that great--especially on larger TVs (I tried it with a 46-inch LCD). They look washed-out and grainy.

Also, because of how the Wii browser refreshes itself, you hear a beep every two seconds or so--even if you're still looking at the same photo. That gets annoying mighty quick, but the only real fix is to mute your TV.

Much as I was hoping to love WiiPhoto, I came away just liking it. At $2.99 it's a worthwhile purchase, if only to show off your photos on a big screen--but be prepared for a few disappointments along the way.

 

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