Monday, December 29, 2014

Nintendo and Xbox 360 Tease Gamers

Two breaking stories today will both peak the curiosity of and depress video gamers!

Nintendo and Xbox 360 Tease Gamers

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Wanna smuggle in a Wii mini from Canada?


Two breaking stories today will both peak the curiosity of and depress video gamers!

Nintendo is launching a new, smaller and cheaper version of the Wii game system – though it has a more limited skill set and won’t be sold in the U.S. just yet.

 Microsoft  rolls out a system update for Xbox 360 today, correcting issues with the Xbox SmartGlass “second screen” application that provides pleasures somewhat akin to the new Nintendo Wii U. But for Apple phone or tablet users, this Xbox update’s got nothing for you.

Meet the mini: Best Buy Canada has just posted all the details about the Wii mini, a cute little red and black thing priced to move at a magic $99.99 price (Canadian) when it goes on sale  December 7. But that might be another day to live in infamy, when buyers bring home the console and discover what’s missing with this wii one. 

 Gamers can live with the mini's top-loading disc drive (less problematic and cheaper than a slot drive while demanding horizontal box placement).  The Wii mini also cuts corners that will inflict pain - by scrapping Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity which  eliminate WiiWare downloads, Netflix access and more.   And like last year’s Wii redesign, the mini can’t handle GameCube games.

 Nintendo U.S. seems to be taking a wait-and-see attitude to this new light weight. Here, holiday shoppers are being courted  with a  newly lowered $129.99 asking price for the old school Wii, a system which  still has its  Internet mojo and comes bundled with the “Wii Sports and Sports Resorts” title, as well as the essentials - sensor bar, Wii Remote Plus and companion Nunchuck.

Xbox Update: Next time Xbox Live users sign on, they’ll be forced to update their game console’s operating system. Improvements address  Xbox Music, Xbox Video closed captioning and the new Xbox Smart Glass “second screen” enhancements – but only to a degree.  

Smart Glass aims to turn a smart phone or tablet into a Internet video and music remote control, Internet search tool, message spreader  and, most sexily, an additional game playing device  to pump up the fun and challenge of titles like  “Madden NFL 13.”

 So what’s wrong with this picture? At the moment, the software works best with the new Microsoft Windows 8 phones, tablets and computers, giving the parent company a  strong home team advantage that might boost its’ league standings.

A recent Xbox 360 upgrade also brought some of this fun but not an all access pass to Google Play devices -  Android phones and tablets with an 800x480 or better screen  display  running  Android 4.0  or better.

 But today’s Smart Glass update still does nothing to address the needs of the huge Apple iOS customer base. The Grinch says “ask again, next year.”   

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, and the McClatchy Tribune News Service. Reach Jonathan at

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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