The Nintendo Wii can't compete with Sony and Microsoft when it comes to serious gaming, but experts say it's a great choice for younger kids and families thanks to its huge selection of fun, family-friendly titles.
Low res, high fun. The Nintendo Wii isn't known for high-octane gaming or realistic graphics, and it only outputs in standard definition. That leads reviewers to say that serious gamers should look to the Sony PlayStation 3 (Est. $200 and up) or Microsoft Xbox 360 (Est. $200 and up) , if not the newer Sony PlayStation 4 (Est. $400) or Microsoft Xbox One (Est. $500) instead. Still, owners say the Wii is fun, easy to use and a great way to spend time with friends or family. The Nintendo Wii was the first to bring motion control to gaming, and early complaints about its accuracy have been answered with improvements to the technology.
The Nintendo Wii has a huge selection of games, but most are geared toward younger gamers. (Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have more adult-oriented games.) Earlier versions of the Wii were backward- compatible with older Nintendo GameCube games, but that capability has been removed in the current model.
Nintendo also offers the Nintendo Wii U (Est. $300) . It's a more powerful gaming system, on a par with the Xbox 360 and PS3, though well behind the PS4 and Xbox One. One major difference is the controllers, which retain the Wii's motion control but add video screens for myriad gaming possibilities -- though not many games make use of that even now. Unlike the consoles from Sony and Microsoft, the Wii U is backward-compatible with the Wii, so Wii games and even accessories can be used with it.
Limited streaming, but not much else. While the Xbox 360 can play back DVDs and CDs, and the PlayStation 3 can play back those plus Blu-ray Discs, the Wii cannot play back any type of prerecorded discs -- the drive just handles the console's proprietary disc format.
The Wii can stream content but the number of partners is limited, with only Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu Plus represented among the major providers. The Wii is not DLNA certified, but you can stream content from your PC if you have the appropriate media server software (PlayOn or TVersity, for example) installed on it.
It's a family affair. In 2011, Nintendo joined the refresh parade by offering a slightly spiffed-up version of the Wii. The console now sits horizontally rather than vertically and sports a slightly trimmed-down case. The console is currently offered only in black. Nintendo also offers a stripped-down version in red, called the Wii mini (Est. $100) . The key difference between the Wii and the Wii mini is that all streaming features and the ability to download games have been removed.
CNET has an extensive editorial review of the current Nintendo Wii, albeit as part of a bundle that's now discontinued. Author Scott Stein's thorough analysis pegs the Wii as a solid value for families and those who enjoy casual games. However, he cautions that it's also the most dated console.
Review: Nintendo Wii Mario Kart Bundle, Scott Stein, Aug. 23, 2011
Ben Gottesman says that the Nintendo Wii "has lost some of its luster" based on user satisfaction scores. However, he adds, it still gets good ratings for "fun."
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013, Ben Gottesman, Oct. 29, 2013
PCMag.com has a detailed look at the Nintendo Wii, although this review is a bit dated. Editors say that although the Wii is a good choice for non-gamers, families with small children or those who want a game system for party fun, adults will be better served by an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
Review: Nintendo Wii (Fall 2008), Editors at PCMag.com, Nov. 17, 2008
ArsTechnica.com has the longest and most detailed review of the Nintendo Wii. Although it is rather dated and deals with the previous version, much of the information is still valid. Ben Kuchera takes potential Wii users through the setup process, the hardware ergonomics and the games.
Review: Nintendo Wii: The Ars Technica Review, Ben Kuchera, Nov. 27, 2006