Why Nintendo’s Wii U Tablet-Controlled Console Won’t Rival The iPad [Opinion]

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Nintendo unveiled its upcoming Wii successor at E3 in Los Angeles yesterday, and with its touchscreen tablet-like controllers and AirPlay-like game streaming, some are already debating whether the device might rival the iPad. I’m here to tell you that it won’t.

The idea that the Wii U might be an iPad competitor is purely based on two things: the new controller, which ever so slightly resembles a tablet in that it is flat and features a touchscreen, and the console’s ability to offer AirPlay-like gaming streamed from one device to another.

However, the Wii U and the iPad are so different that it seems ludicrous to me that anyone would compare the two. While it’s true that both products offer gaming, you wouldn’t compare a bicycle to a BMW because both offer personal transportation – they are two different things. Just like the Nintendo Wii U and Apple’s iPad.

Firstly, the Wii U is built primarily for gaming, and therefore to appeal to gamers. Those serious about gaming who are looking for a dedicated games console may compare the Wii U to the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360, but they won’t compare it to the iPad. Gaming on the iPad is really great, and while the experience rivals that of a handheld console, like the PSP or the 3DS, for gaming on the big screen only a dedicated games console will quench a hardcore gamer’s thirst.

Then there’s the AirPlay-like game streaming. With the Wii U’s new controller, you can stream your gameplay to its touchscreen so that you can enjoy your games when the killjoys in your household want to watch TV. This is the exact opposite of AirPlay gaming on the iPad. On the iPad, AirPlay gaming is all about getting your iOS games onto the big screen, and right now, there are only a handful of games that truly support AirPlay gaming on a HDTV, that aren’t just mirror images of what’s happening on your iPad.

The point I’m trying to make is that, while the iPad is great for casual gaming on-the-go – and should be compared to handheld consoles which offer the same thing – we shouldn’t compare the device to a fully fledged games console just because it has a couple of similar features. The Wii U is guaranteed to offer better gaming on your HDTV, whereas the iPad is better at editing spreadsheets and playing Angry Birds on the train.

The Wii U’s controller may look like it was influenced by the iPad and other tablets, but instead, it mimics the success that Nintendo has had with the DS and attempts to provide dual-screen gaming on your TV. If it resembles an iPad combined with an Apple TV, it’s an accident, not by design.

What do you think of the new Wii U? Could you see yourself buying one when it debuts, or is an iPad 2 and Apple TV good enough for you?