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Previews

Nintendo Wii U: In-depth hands-on

Nintendo hands us a Wii U controller and we get it dirty

CVG's just come away from hands-on session with the Wii U and you can rest assured we put sweaty finger prints all over that hefty controller to bring you these in-depth hardware impressions.

So you know what it looks like, and basically what it does, but how does that controller feel in your hands? Surprisingly, for a unit so large, it's actually pretty comfortable. It's by far the biggest twin-analogue controller we've ever used (sorry original Xbox, your chunky crown has been stolen) and yet it sits in your hand remarkably well.

This is thanks in the most part to a sharp outwards pointing ridge that runs along the rear of the unit. It's like a wall of curvaceous plastic perfectly positioned to rest in between your middle and index fingers.

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This gives the square controller a definitive gripping position, designed so that your thumbs fall naturally over the face buttons and analogue sliders and your index fingers are easily within reach of either the rear triggers or shoulder buttons on the upper edge of the unit.

Let's first talk about that massive screen. Nintendo reps refused to talk to us about resolution, but we can tell you it's impressively sharp for a 6.2 inch screen. The pixel count must be up there. We looked closely - you can still see pixels so the density isn't quite is high as iPhone 4. But it's clearly sharper than the 3DS' upper screen, and one person in the surrounding crowd even noted as we played New Super Mario Bros. Mii that the controller display looked clearer than the HDTV. The colours were also slightly more vivid and crisper than the TV, too.

It's touch capability is often put to good use for menu navigation in the demos on show, allowing you to tap your way through to the desired mode and level as easily as you have been on DS. Also similar to the DS is a small stylus that slots neatly into the upper left of the unit, two speakers on the lower panel that were loud enough for us to hear over the E3 bustle (with volume slider on the top), an infra-red sensor, headphone port and AC adaptor port presumably for recharging.

It also dons what appears to be an expansion port on the bottom for attachments, with two bracket clips on either side that would hold your add-on peripheral in place. We've already seen that port in use - one shot of the controller during Nintendo's press conference showed it plugged into the top of a gun attachment, serving as a zoom scope.

For a controller so large and square in design, the face buttons and sliders are as typically well-positioned as you'd expect from Nintendo,. The triggers are nicely curved like those on the GameCube controller but are simple clicky buttons as oppose to the GC's deep triggers. The shoulder buttons are easily reachable when using the twin analogue sliders but we found them to be a little far away when you're using the d-pad and face buttons. You tend to slide your hand up higher on the unit to reach them, which in turn makes reaching down for the buttons an effort for your crumpled thumbs.

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The controller is surprisingly light too, considering its large size and ample tech. These prototypes are wired though which they can pull power and receive video signals. We suspect that the retail units will bare the additional weight of batteries and wireless transmitting/receiving gizmos.

Rather than packing the analogue sticks you'd expect on a console controller, you might have noticed that Nintendo has opted for a pair of analogue sliders not unlike the one you have on your 3DS. They feel almost the same in fact, if a little larger in size and movement range - a good thing for increased accuracy. The important thing is we can see these nubs performing just fine with a hardcore first-person shooter. At last.

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