Monday, April 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: Nintendo’s TVii tops button-laden remotes

RYAN NAKASHIMA

LOS ANGELES — Nintendo’s TV-watching tool for the new Wii U game console beats my regular remote control hands down.

Called TVii, the service transforms how you watch television in three key ways. It turns the touch-screen GamePad controller for the Wii U into a remote control for your TV and set-top box. It groups your favorite shows and sports teams together, whether it’s on live TV or an Internet video service such as Hulu Plus. And it offers water-cooler moments you can chat about on social media.

It takes some getting used to, and I had a lot of re-learning to do after years of using my thumb to channel surf. But once I did, I found the service an advance from the mass of buttons on most TV remote controls.

TVii comes free with the Wii U, although it didn’t become available in the U.S. until mid-December, about a month after the game machine’s debut.

One nice touch is that TVii gives you a way to search for shows over Internet video apps and live TV all in one place. I can then choose whether to watch it on the big TV or on my controller’s touch screen, which measures 6.2 inches diagonally.

Handling these different sources of video at once is a tall order, and Nintendo Co. does it pretty well. No one else has combined live and Web TV as seamlessly before. As the lines blur between the two, I would hope some of TVii’s advances are copied and improved upon by other gadget makers and TV signal providers.

For starters, TVii asks for your TV maker, your set-top box maker, your location and your TV provider (that could be an antenna). TVii then uses infrared codes to control your TV just like the old remote, and it can offer a traditional channel guide for live TV shows. TVii also asks for your favorite shows, sports teams and movies. This helps it create an easy-to-understand grouping of shows you might want to watch.

I appreciate the way TVii walked me through the setup process. It was refreshing, given the misfortune I recently had of trying to program the remote control that came with my cable set-top box, which is about as fun as doing your tax returns. TVii takes away the need to read folded-up instruction manuals that appear to be written by and for electronics hobbyists.

After the setup, TVii presents you with a series of icons for Favorites, TV, Movies, Sports and Search. A little avatar of your identity is in one corner, and tapping on it lets you adjust your favorites or go through the setup again. Each person in a household can have a different avatar and set of favorites.

In Favorites, your shows are listed with cover art, and you can swipe through the offerings. Tapping one, say, “The Mindy Project,” will pull up an episode list with pictures and brief summaries. Choosing an episode will bring up a range of options — the channel if it’s on live TV, or buttons for Hulu Plus or Amazon, where you can pay for monthly access or just one episode through the service’s app. (The free version of Hulu is blocked on gadgets, including the Wii U and tablet computers. Apple’s iTunes, unsurprisingly, isn’t integrated.) The option of clicking through to Netflix will be added some time in 2013.

One hiccup is that if you want to watch a show on live TV now, it asks if your TV’s input source is already set to the set-top box, rather than the Wii U or another gadget such as a DVD player. If it is, you tap “yes” and the channel changes. If not, you have to tap until the source switches to the right one and then tap “yes.” Still, there’s no need to go back to your TV’s remote control.

The other menu items for TV, Movies, Sports and Search operate pretty similarly. Eventually you’ll get a range of options to watch. In the case of sports, you’ll likely see several game possibilities, with the latest score showing up on each game icon.

As an alternative, you can resort to a physical TV button on the GamePad that brings up touch controls that mimic a simplified, standard remote.

Another option is using an altogether separate interface in which favorite channels and other controls are displayed graphically on a semi-circular wheel. It looks strange, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Anyone who is frustrated by the jumble of cables and boxes that now surround TVs will see TVii’s appeal. My wife said she liked the ease of holding and touching the controller, rather than fiddling with the button-laden remote. One downside I can see with TVii is that you have to keep looking down to figure out what to watch. And you have to plug it in frequently, as the GamePad controller will die out after three to five hours of use.

TVii also offers a standard channel guide in which you can scroll up and down for programs on different channels or right and left for different times of day. A touch will change the channel to the program, which is nice.

For certain shows and sporting events, TVii will supply a running list of key events called “TV tags.” These descriptions of events, like the precise moment when Mindy’s Christmas party descends into chaos, are displayed on the GamePad’s screen, along with a screenshot. Tapping on one opens up a comment window, and an onscreen keyboard allows you to make a comment. For sports, you get a description of each play, such as the number of yards thrown in a pass, beside a graphic that gets updated.

Not many people have Wii U consoles yet, nor is everyone tuned to TVii. As a result, I found myself with only one or two commenters to share my thoughts with.

If you’ve connected TVii to Facebook and Twitter (again, some sign-up is involved), your comments will go out to your friends and followers, but the TV tag that you are commenting on won’t show up, so they might not know what you’re talking about. TVii adds the hashtag “NintendoTVii” to help readers take a guess.

In the end, TVii isn’t perfect.

It isn’t yet able to program your digital video recorder, although it will do so for TiVo DVRs by March. Sports are limited to pro and college basketball and football, and there’s no integration with fantasy sports leagues. And the battery life of the GamePad is short.

A review unit I was sent failed to take a charge and had to be replaced, although I haven’t found others who have had the same problem.

These irritations aside, Nintendo has given us a way to control the clutter of channels, apps and devices crowding around the TV. It’s relatively easy and intuitive and some updates are on the way. Considering the garble of the TV universe, that’s pretty good.

___

About TVii:

TVii turns the GamePad controller for the Wii U into a remote control that integrates your live TV and Internet video experience. The service is free, but you’ll need a Wii U game console, which starts at $300. You’ll also need to pay extra to use video services such as Hulu Plus, Amazon and Netflix.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Jelly Belly artist finds her work sweet

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hundreds turn out for Kroc Easter Egg hunt

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1

Rodriguez musicians win big in Reno

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

 
 
Heroes for Hire event goes haywire

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

Best of the best compete at dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Tour past, present, future in Mountain View

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

9th Annual Peace Summit on calendar

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
4-H Paper Clover Campaign starts

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Center offers baby mammal care class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police arrest 6 in alcohol sting

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

Event allows for safe medication disposal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Silent movie night set in Rio Vista

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Local government meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Il Fiorello to host mushroom class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Club plans home garden tour in Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Suisun City to host 3rd annual MS walk

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Church offers document shredding

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Kids Fishing Derby to take place Saturday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Suisun City police log: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Fairfield police log: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
North Bay Pediatrics marks anniversary

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

Networking event at Solano College

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
Street-sweeping dealership comes to Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11, 1 Comment | Gallery

Firm facilitates building lease in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
Weather for Monday, April 21, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

.

US / World

Bid, Dick, bid: ‘Dick and Jane’ artworks for sale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bee colonies damaged after almond pollination

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Sleeping girl killed after car drives into home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Nurse in critical condition after stabbing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Recreation areas reopening after Yosemite fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Country music singer Kevin Sharp dies at age 43

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Study: Fuels from corn waste not better than gas

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Delay in ferry evacuation puzzles maritime experts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Transcript of SKorea ship sinking: ‘We can’t move’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Opinion

Why Hillary? The public awaits her answer

By Ann McFeatters | From Page: A8

 
Knowledge, religion and the hard work of faith

By Cynthia M. Allen | From Page: A8

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Legislature critic is selective

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoon for April 21, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Local voices, important choices

By Rod Keck | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for April 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
My friend’s wife drinks too much, verbally abuses her husband

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

Horoscopes for April 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
.

Entertainment

‘Capt. America’ tops box office for third week

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

TVGrid April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Sharks take 2-0 series lead with 7-2 win vs. Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Posey, Lincecum lead Giants to 4-3 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Chavez gets 1st win, A’s complete sweep of Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Young Clippers try to mature against Warriors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
NBA: Refs missed foul call in Warriors-Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Westwood wins Malaysian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

After bombs, Boston Marathon under tight security

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prep baseball: Pair of 10-run innings powers Vikings to win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Red Sox remember Boston Marathon victims

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prizefighter Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Kuchar rallies from 4 back to win RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Jimenez closes with 67 to win Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Aldridge leads Portland over Houston 122-120 in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Nene dominates, Wizards rally past Bulls, 102-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
James, Wade lead Heat past Bobcats 99-88 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Duncan scores 27 points, Spurs beat Mavs 90-85

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Business

 
.

Obituaries

Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
.

Comics

Beetle Bailey April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard Of Id April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword April 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard Of Id April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge April 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7