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Nintendo TVii comes to the Wii U, finally

The service, which allows access via the GamePad to TV and other entertainment content, had been conspicuously absent from the Wii U's launch last month. It arrives tomorrow.

The Nintendo Wii U GamePad plays a central role in TVii's functionality.
The Nintendo Wii U GamePad plays a central role in TVii's functionality.

Nintendo TVii, the feature that could transform the new Wii U into a full-fledged entertainment box in the living room, is coming to the console tomorrow.

At that time, TVii will be made available in the U.S. and Canada, Nintendo announced today. The feature allows Wii U owners to access all of the programming in their home-entertainment setup, including content from their cable or satellite companies, and decide from the Wii U's GamePad what they want to watch. In addition, the GamePad can double as a remote, allowing users to control volume and change channels, among other features.

TVii was announced earlier this year as part of Nintendo's desire to turn the Wii U into more than just a gaming console. However, when the hardware launched last month, TVii was conspicuously missing. Nintendo would only say at that time that TVii would be launching in December.

TVii attempts to combine the many sources of programming into one place to make it easier for users to decide what they want to watch in a moment. With the GamePad, users can opt for a show airing live through their cable or satellite service or choose to stream a video on Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus. Netflix, which is available now on the Wii U, won't be integrated into the TVii feature set until early 2013, Nintendo says. TiVo users are also out of luck until 2013.

With the GamePad's help, TVii will also act as a dual-screen entertainment option. While a show is playing on the television, the GamePad will display information on the program, including cast details and critics reviews. Sports programming can be accompanied by live stats and scores, Nintendo says.

Nintendo's Wii U has gotten off to a strong start. During its first week on store shelves, the console generated 400,000 unit sales in the U.S. and at that time, was sold out in nearly all retailers nationwide. The console can be purchased in some brick-and-mortar locations now, and Amazon has the $300 Basic Set available. The $350 Deluxe set is sold out through

TVii is available as a free update to the Wii U. No additional equipment is needed to get the service up and running.