Activity gadgets for the holidays

There are all sorts of gadgets that will be popular this holiday season, from game consoles to iPads to smartphones. But in today’s world you have to ask yourself whether there is too much emphasis on gadgets that reinforce a sedentary life for our kids. Video games are great, but do we want kids doing that all day long?

Keep that in mind when you’re buying gifts. We live in a time where childhood obesity is a serious problem, and while we want to give kids what they want, we need to consider sending a more balanced message.

With that in mind, think about gifts that encourage kids to get up and move around. When you think of gadgets, think beyond small electronics that fit into a kid’s hands.

One option of course would be a video games that involve movement. The Wii and Connect systems are brilliant for their innovations in this area. Virtual games like tennis and boxing can help kids work up a sweat.

Old-school games like ping pong also encourage movement, so maybe a real ping pong table is in order for your basement.

And then of course we have games like basketball, that really get kids moving around. Think about the excitement kids would have if you went shopping for adjustable basketball goals that you could install in their driveway! Now that’s a gadget that they would remember.


Those other two consoles can stream Netflix sans disc

Wii Netflix.Late last week, news broke that PS3 users could finally do what Xbox 360 users had been doing for some time: stream movies without the help of a pesky disc. Now the same is true for Wii users. So long as you have an $8.99 or higher Netflix plan, you can enjoy unlimited streaming without a disc in the drive.

From the Wii press release:

Beginning today, Netflix members in the United States and Canada can stream content through their Wii™ consoles with Netflix installed on their Wii Menu. The Netflix disc that was used for instant streaming on the Wii console will no longer be required. Netflix members who have a plan starting at $8.99 a month ($7.99 in Canada), a Wii console and a broadband Internet connection can now instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed directly to their TVs by simply downloading Netflix from the Wii Shop Channel. This new channel is available at no extra cost. The new disc-free option installs Netflix on the Wii Menu, making it convenient for Wii owners to quickly access streaming movies and TV shows.

I don’t really know why this took so long, or why PS3 and Wii users needed a disc in the first place, but it’s nice to see that it has finally been fixed.


Nintendo Rejected New Technologies From Microsoft And Sony

Satoru Iwata.According to a Financial Times report this week, Nintendo toyed with technologies similar to Project Natal and the Sony wand announced at E3 and rejected them, citing better results from Nintendo’s own accelerometers. Nintendo apparently made experimental games using hardware rigs that were similar to those from Sony and Microsoft.

Financial Times says this is Nintendo’s way of throwing the gauntlet at the feet of it’s two competitors. I say it’s more like a schoolyard insult from a company that sees its highly successful strategy adapted to fit the more hardcore consoles. Nintendo has sold some 50 million units worldwide, compared to 30 million 360s and just 23 million PS3s. As Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, says, “Companies whose people said that motion-sensing wouldn’t work are now proposing motion sensors.” Will they be able to top the Wii?

Despite what FT says, Mr. Iwata seems nervous, and a little confused “Until they say when they’re releasing it, how much it costs and what software it comes with, we won’t know whether that is the route we should have taken.” So Nintendo rejected the technologies because the Wii had a better solution, but it’s still potentially a route Nintendo should have taken? Sounds like Nintendo dumped a hot girl, found out about her incredible new boyfriend and stands waiting for the wedding vows to make an objection.

Source: Financial Times


A Collection of Wii trailers from E3

Here’s a few of my favorite Wii trailers from this year’s E3:

First, Super Mario Galaxy 2. This looks to be an amazing follow-up to what could be considered the best game on the Wii. The graphics and gameplay again look great and you can never go wrong by adding Yoshii.

Also, New Super Mario Bros. Wii looks awesome. I play the DS version and can’t put it down… even months after completing the final level. This looks great!

And finally, even though it’s a XBox 360 and Playstation 3 title as well, you have to marvel at the quality of The Beatles: Rock Band trailer.


Fantastic Wii Hack for a Lazy Memorial Day

Wii with an hdd.My own Memorial Days are typically full of family revelry: picnics, drinking, outdoor games, too much sun (followed by a week’s incubation and then a week’s worth of peeling). This year, I’m not doing much of anything, and for those of you in similar positions, you may find this Wii hack a productive way to fill your time.

The hack, which comes to us via, teaches you how to load your Wii discs from an attached USB hard drive. Without explaining too much (and unnecessarily leeching credit), the hard drive hack saves you all sorts of time and space that you might spend hunting for discs, changing discs, waiting for discs to load, and just about anything else that is limiting about physical media.

The one caveat I’ll offer: M&H do suggest keeping your Wii on older firmware versions than the most current (though they offer plenty of great reasons to do so). If this makes you uncomfortable for any reason, you probably won’t like their guide very much. I will say, though, it’s worth reading, and worth examining some of the hackable possibilities of your Wii. It is yours after all, and despite what Nintendo will tell you, there’s no reason it shouldn’t do what you want.