Wii Media Center?

This is a guest post written by Tim Robertson. Tim is the owner and publisher of MyMac.com and a freelance writer.

Nintendo Wii console

While both Microsoft and Sony are trying to bridge the gap between traditional media content (TV shows and movies) and video game consoles, Nintendo has taken a different approach. The Wii is marketed as a device for gaming, and not much else.

Nintendo did include the ability to read external media with a built-in SD card reader on the front of the Wii. (That’s what is hiding behind that small door.) You can either use a SD card to save your Wii game saves, or use it to transfer content to the Wii.

I decided to give the Wii a try as a video player by converting some DVDs to .MOV format (The only format I have found the Wii can play) and see how well it did.

Rather than draw this out too long, the answer was “not too well”, at least not at first. Small cellphone videos look terrible, while DVDs converted at a decent resolution played somewhat better. The Wii only supports videos in .MOV format, although there were some .MOV files that the Wii refused to play.

To play videos on the Wii from an SD card is very unintuitive. You have to go into the Photo channel, navigate to the SD card, and find the .MOV files there.

Wii SD card browser

While video files are one type of media the Wii will play, MP3s are the other. Like .MOV files, you have to navigate to the Photos channel, then the SD card, and finally your MP3s. Playlists don’t appear to be supported, so unlike with the Xbox 360, you can’t create your own gaming soundtracks. External media on the Wii seems more like an afterthought, rather than a feature.

YouTube on the Wii

The Opera web browser for the Wii, however, plays almost every video format online I could find. And video, such as those on YouTube, look fantastic on the Wii, much better in fact than video files on the SD card. The Wii’s browser offers the option to zoom in and out for easier reading, and this works well to make videos larger, without much loss in quality. (Note: this is scaling the Wii via component cables to 480P, on an HDTV. I have not tried it on a SD television, so your results may vary.)


Wii logoThe Wii is no media center, and so far does not play nice with media you may have on your home network. No streaming photos, videos, or music. While a system update could address this issue, it appears to me that Nintendo will content itself to let Sony and Microsoft innovate at playing nice with networked content. It’s hard to argue that Nintendo is wrong to take this route, as the Wii has trounced the PS3 and Xbox 360 month after month on the sales chart. Still, in the area of home networks, streaming media, the AppleTV, P2P, IPTV, and other technologies we don’t even know about yet, the Nintendo Wii is really just a gaming machine.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

14 Responses to “Wii Media Center?”

  1. […] Source:last100 This is a guest post written by Tim Robertson. Tim is the owner and publisher of MyMac.com and a freelance writer. […]

  2. […] on http://www.last100.com and attempted to use the Wii as a video player, with some intresting results. read more | digg […]

  3. wii user says:

    I tried the wii browser with ABC live streaming and it would not work.

  4. Andrew says:

    “The Wii is no media center… really just a gaming machine.” Yes, it’s what it was designed to be, and it’s not what you tested it as. Good for Nintendo.

  5. Steve O'Hear (editor) says:


    Whilst it clearly isn’t intended as a media center, it works very well at accessing Flash-based video online. And sales-wise it’s trumped the others as a gaming device too.

  6. […] Wii No Media Center: Tim Robertson gives the Wii a thumbs up for YouTube, a thumbs down for media playback from SD card. (last100) […]

  7. […] a recent guest post, Tim Robertson looked at the Wii’s media handling capabilities and concluded that the Wii is no media center, lacking the ability to stream photos, videos or […]

  8. […] ´╗┐mind-blowing site now notice this genre http://www.last100.com/2007/06/05/wii-media-center and give comments […]

  9. thomasvanommeren says:

    orb works great! stream all your media anywhere for free!

  10. Macitonline says:

    […] Wii Media Center? […]

  11. Umberto21 says:

    I use Mezzmo Dlna

  12. Daniel says:

    Yeah, even though this may seem like propaganda, I agree with Thomasvanommeren. Orb.com actually lets you stream video files (.avi, .wmv, probably others but I use those) and audio files (.wma, .mp3) and even picture files from your computer to your wii (or x-box or ps3) for free, and (on my faster connection) there’s no significant loss of quality. Somehow, it trans-codes those files into flash format and streams them directly to your wii (if your computer and your wii are on the same connection), or to the website which your wii can access (if they aren’t). It’s awesome: no more making DVDs out of my computer’s video files just to watch them on the TV!

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