News Article

Wii U Touch Screen is Resistive, Not Capacitive

Posted by James Newton

Lost? Let us explain

The 6.2" screen in the centre of the Wii U controller is likely to use the same resistive technology that features in the DS and 3DS consoles, rather than the more advanced capacitive system used in modern smart phones and Apple's iDevices.

Hardware images released by Nintendo show a stylus being used on the touch screen, indicating resistive technology at work as capacitive screens require special styluses to function.

On a technical level, resistive and capacitive screens obviously share an overarching trait — you touch them, they respond — but both are suited to different tasks. Capacitive screens work better with fingers and can track multiple inputs, whereas resistive screens are more suited to drawing and writing as they work with styluses.

Nintendo's Wii U E3 2011 video also backs this up, as only single inputs are shown and a drawing of Link is clearly demonstrated.

If the Wii U controller does indeed feature DS-standard touch sensitivity, how would you feel? Let us know in the comments.

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User Comments (64)

legochesser

#1

legochesser said:

I always liked using a stylus way more than using your own fingers. Still watching and waiting on some good 1st party accounencements, before I bounce aroud the room of happieness.

JayceJa

#2

JayceJa said:

i dont feel a single contact point will be a problem, since with the button controls, it wont really need more than one contact point, its not like the iPad which is solely a touch screen

skywake

#4

skywake said:

It really annoys me that my iPod Touch doesn't have a stylus sometimes. The keys on the on-screen keyboard are TINY and are just begging for some precision. Having said that, being able to zoom and rotate using multi-touch is a lot cooler.

Doesn't bother me too much. If it's used anything like the DS bottom screen most of it's touch screen duties will be menu selection.

b_willers

#5

b_willers said:

You are going to be using your fingers most of the time, so this is a huge disappointment, you need to apply pressure to resistive screens which is a real pain after you have used an iPad. Plus they scratch and bobble overvtime unlike a glass surface.

daznsaz

#6

daznsaz said:

always used stylus with ds but havent really used it with the 3ds only for typing words will just do whatever feels right with the new controller asked at shop about preorder they said ask tomorrow when they got more info sooner the better i reckon havent seen to much of wiiu yet what i have seen though highly impressed

Einherjar

#8

Einherjar said:

b_willers has a point there. It still is a controller, not a "tablet" on its own. You must hold it with two hands (bacause of the size) so theres no comfortable way in holding a stylus at the same time. Thats what bothers me about a bunch of DS games. You are busy operating all the buttons but the menu system is managed via the touchscreen in realtime. Sooner or later you are just using your thums, wich sooner or later damages the screen. For little Screens like the DS one, a Stylus is the better choice indeed, but for a touchscreen as big as this, its just uncomfortable. Holding this controller in one hand, while tapping / scribbling on it with the other hand sounds quite hard.

Lan

#9

Lan said:

it looked pressure-sensitive to me, based on the link drawing. did you know the ds and ds lite had pressure-sensitive touch screens?

rjejr

#10

rjejr said:

Since the accompanying photo screams - big screen living room DS - and wo, what a coincidence, Nintendo makes the DS, this shouldn't surprise anyone. And nobody said you can't use your fingers, my memory of the conference video is way more finger usage than stylus. Plus, they are trying to keep costs down, and they'll need an excuse for everybody to upgrade in a few years - see WiimotePlus packaged with Mario Kart Wii even though Mario Kart doesn't use Plus - so I'm guessing capacative in 2015. Time to pre-order my screen cover and Olimar stylus.

Token_Girl

#11

Token_Girl said:

Given that the control has buttons, multitouch capabilities probably wouldn't be worth the extra price. The screen is large enough that you could get away with using your thumbs instead of the stylus unless you're drawing. That will make it pretty quick and easy to use in game. It's not like the DS that uses the stylus for fps games. The Wiimote or dual analog will be better for those games.

motang

#13

motang said:

Well that kinda sucks, but needs to be resistive to keep the price down.

warioswoods

#14

warioswoods said:

I'm happy to hear this, as I have an iPad (for work, technically) that is handy for some things but the imprecision of capacitative touchscreens drives me crazy. I thought I'd be able to take notes on my iPad... but it's near impossible, even after trying all the best apps and special styluses for it, because that dang screen is incapable of detecting a fine line.

The resistant screen will mean much better apps for any kind of drawing and sketching, and far better precision overall.

pixelman

#15

pixelman said:

I'm with warioswoods here, this'll be nice for more precise stuff. Still, it would've been nice to have a more sensitive screen for item management. You have to press fairly hard to get taps to register when you're using your fingers.

Also, I'm imaging Monster Hunter 4 on this and salivating hardcore. DO IT CAPCOM.

KDR_11k

#16

KDR_11k said:

I have to press down pretty hard to select things with my thumb on the 3DS touch screen, that's gonna suck for games that want to use both the buttons/sticks and the touchscreen.

Ren

#18

Ren said:

Yeah, I'm with the last few here. I'd much rather have the possiblity of precision drawing capability for all kinds of things than the minor convenience of multitouch. It's not a machine meant for typing anyway, so finger use will be minimal but still useful. If it keeps it cheap, I'm all about it. Better get those screen covers, though! My original DS took a beating on the 3rd screen now, I hope it's mostly user replaceable. (the DS phat was do-able but tricky)

komicturtle

#19

komicturtle said:

@16
Really? Cause playing Pokemon White and SSFIV3D, a light touch to my 3DS touch screen to press them virtual buttons, it responds with barely any pressure. I would suggest calibrating your touch screen. My 3ds screen is really sensitive and I use my thumb to press buttons, apps, games, etc. on screen.

Right now im using my finger to type this sentence with surprisingly no problem on 3ds.

This touch screen is soo much better than the past DS systems imo.

And drawing on the WiiU tablets large 6.2 inch screen is going to be a joy for me.

Art Academy U- take a picture of an object, then send that picture to the TV so you can look at it and draw it on the tablet- thats just awesome.

StarDust4Ever

#20

StarDust4Ever said:

Unlike the DS, this controller has no lid or clamshell. Most people keep their DS lid closed when they are not using it, so that protects the sensitive touch screen. Fingers are not a problem, unless your hands are encrusted with dirt and grit (Never take your DS on a camping trip, no matter how tempting it may be). I've had to wipe off food grease plenty of times, but incurred zero damage as a result. Problem with console controllers is they often get piled into boxes, thrown about, whether wireless or cordless, and all past Nintendo consoles have had extremely durable controllers. The Wii is no exception to that. I don't even believe that adhesive screen protectors are a solution either. While they do offer good protection against hairline scratches on the surface, they are useless when it comes to preventing blunt-force-trauma. I hope that either Nintendo or some third party releases some type of solution to this. A snap-on acrylic screen protector would be an ideal solution. When the iphone first came out, I shuddered at the idea of cramming the fragile $600 tech device down into pants pockets, with a delicate touch screen to get mutilated by the car keys. No thanks, I'll keep my old flip-phone.

Edwrd

#21

Edwrd said:

Disappointed at first, but then realized that it would totally suck if you have to move one hand on and off from holding the large controller to poke the screen regularly during a game. Not having to touch the screen at all during game play is best, unless the game is designed for the touch screen specifically, but then there would be no issue because it would be designed to be used with a stylus! So it doesn't really matter if its resistive or capacitive.

WaLzgiStaff

#22

WaLzgi said:

I don't think it's disappointing. Just as long as it does what it's supposed to do :O

Mikau94

#26

Mikau94 said:

@19 Same here, my 3DS screen is VERY sensitive. I barely have to touch it for it to register.

Mikau94

#27

Mikau94 said:

@shinesprite
Yeah, I feel sorry for them, my guess is you will be able to play u-draw games on the Wii-U's new controller.

It's almost like U-draw was foreshadowing the WII-U, especially since they both have U in the title.

Odnetnin

#29

Odnetnin said:

The cool thing is this makes 3DS and Wii U games very compatible since Nintendo essentially just unveiled console version of the DS.

MeloMan

#30

MeloMan said:

I try not to touch the 3DS/DS screen, but usually when I do, I typically touch the screen with the tip of my fingers or thumb and it registers fine for me AND it doesn't result in excessive fingerprints or scratches-- it's all in the method I guess and I'll be doing the same on the WiiU's controller. Now, if I could just get the lady to do the same (sigh) _

Peznaze

#31

Peznaze said:

I just hope Nintendo will have an excellent service plan. Fingers on a resistive screen... things will break.

zeeroid

#32

zeeroid said:

I was never enamored with capacitative touch devices to begin with. They're too... touchy. No pun intended.

pntjr

#36

pntjr said:

This ruined my day.us I have lots of money, (I helped create GameStop) so i don't care if it's overpriced!

Kriedler

#38

Kriedler said:

Since when did the DS screen not track multiple inputs? Anyone remember in Hotel Dusk when you had to hold those two breakers at once?

CaPPa

#40

CaPPa said:

I prefer resistive to capacitive, as the accuracy and ability to use any type of stylus far outweigh any multi-touch capability imo.

DarkLloyd

#41

DarkLloyd said:

well theres also the case of dust when either using your hands which im not sure would cause the problem im about to say or the stylus which if dust left unwiped from a screen would scratch the screen so theres probably going to be addition accessories like:

screen protection like the DS

a bookish like case for the controller when not in use should keep the dust and whatever material that floats in the air out of it

well thats not much i guess but pretty much sums it up for me

Despair1087

#42

Despair1087 said:

i hate my stupid smartphone. i'm glad they went with a screen like the ds and not like my phone.

Neonpowerstar

#43

Neonpowerstar said:

Capacitive screens get fingerprints all over them, and multi-touch isn't all that great. The only important use of multi-touch I can think of is zooming in and out (and rotating) images. And you cannot use a stylus on a capacitive screen.
Styluses do not leave fingerprints, they offer more precision than anything you could ever get with a capacitive screen, and are very natural to hold. However, the benefit of a resistive screen is you can also use your finger if you want.
Conclusion: Resistive screen does everything a capacitive screen does (except multi-touch), and more. The only thing a capacitive screen does that a resistive one doesn't is multi-touch, which isn't all that great anyway.
Resistive screen wins hands down.

erv

#44

erv said:

The apple touchscreens are the best by far if you ask me.

The sticky feel of the dslite I got a while back wasn't much fun at all. Meanwhile, gaming on my ipad has been lots of fun. No pressure, just touch. And it works.

But apple holds multitouch patents for this technology, so we'll have to wait and see what way this is going to be feeling like. Anything on the show floor yet?

Kirk

#45

Kirk said:

I would rather be able to draw and write notes etc with precision than pinch my fingers to do gestures that I could do perfectly well with the controllers buttons anyway.

Henmii

#47

Henmii said:

I thought with resistive they meant that the screen isn't easily scratched? Well, I guess the screen will be of good quality anyway!

y2josh

#48

y2josh said:

In a video interview with another site Reggie said it wasn't multitouch.

Rathe

#50

Rathe said:

I've never had to press very hard on my DSi or 3DS for either to recognize my finger. Keep in mind, this is a gaming console. I would like to point out that the intended primary function of an iPad, iPhone, or iPod is not to play games. Precision is much more important in gaming, especially when face buttons eliminate the need for multi-touch.

Hardy83

#51

Hardy83 said:

Did anyone REALLY expect to to not use the same tech as the DS? They probably get it for a sweet deal from the companies that makes the DS/3DS touch screens.

JebbyDeringer

#52

JebbyDeringer said:

I'm not sure using a stylus while holding that massive thing would be practical at all. I like the accuracy of a stylus but capacitive is much more useful for speed. Sure capacitive can be super sensitive but I find that a positive. Resistive makes it easy to miss a press and have to do it twice (I hate those debit machines that have touch screen interfaces). For what Nintendo plans to do I'm sure it will work fine but the swipes & gestures you can do with capacitive are leagues better than presses.

argus

#53

argus said:

Many people don't know this, but the DS touch screen is pressure sensitive. I don't know of any games that use this feature, but there's a homebrew drawing app that reacts to how hard you're pressing with the stylus. It was quite surprising when I first tried it! It allows for very natural drawing, like the stuff shown in the Wii U video.

However, drawing on the DS never felt right to me. The screen is just too small, and the resolution is too low. On the other hand, I've had good experiences using Wacom tablets on PC. So, the good news is that the Wii U controller has roughly the same size writing area as a Wacom tablet! This thing is going to be perfect.

Pj1

#55

Pj1 said:

Hay I wonder if Nintendo will do a re-make of Mario Paint? I think the big N will deliver some thing amazing with this controller....

jerryo

#56

jerryo said:

i think multitouch is very important, ipad also shows clearly that capacitive doesn't hinder your creativity at all. Wacom also has created special pen for ipad. it costs just $30 and it makes a huge difference for artists. but anyway this is great too. i don't really feel restricted by DS screen, especially DSiXL. so i think all this about capacitive versus resistive is primarily a lot of marketing talk.

TheGreenSpiny

#57

TheGreenSpiny said:

I'm not sure what all the whining about scratches is. I have a 6 year old DS Phat and never bothered to upgrade it. It doesn't have a single scratch. Of course I rarely use the stylus either, I just use my thumb like I would use for button presses or an anlog stick. I never had any problems playing through Metroid Prime Hunters or Dementium this way. The only way I could see this being a problem is if somebody has huge fingers.

HawkeyeWii

#58

HawkeyeWii said:

I don't know if it's just me but I hate when I lose my stylus, or whe I have to use my fingers on the touch screen, because I feel like I am ruining the screen and make lots of smear marks.

Tare

#59

Tare said:

I don't mind it. At first I thought it would be a bit hectic in more fast paced games, but this is only one kind of controller. There's a second one too, which I'll be using for games that require a faster reaction (I.E. fps's)

NintyMan

#60

NintyMan said:

Could be fun if it's used right, but there can also be a bit of creative use for something like this. Mario Paint would be great for such a thing!

wiiuhellyeah

#61

wiiuhellyeah said:

because nintendo understand the clear and defined difference between a PHONE or TABLET and a GAMING CONTROLLER....

multi touch is extreamly laggy and not suited to stylus and mouse like precision so why would you use it on a gaming controller lag is no good in real time gameplay also maintaining a DS like screen allows DS as another controller

im getting sick of ubisoft showinb fps games with twin stick controls wiiu has a touch screen and wii remote plus so why would i camera and aim with a caveman stick HUH !!!!

JustanotherGamer

#62

JustanotherGamer said:

This should do a good job for what this tablet controller will need to do. The DS & 3DS screens have similar so Nintendo knows what it is doing.

I hope

AltDotNerd

#63

AltDotNerd said:

*to anyone saying holding the controller one-handed is awkward
The third-party video at E3 showed the new Ghost Recon game being played with the left hand holding the WiiU controller and the right hand holding the Wii Remote. So, the WiiU controller should be fairly light if it's expected to be used in unision with the Wii Remote.

lex0plex

#64

lex0plex said:

I think the capacitive touch screen would work better for a gaming divice. The ability to track multiple points would come in handy! This system already seems to have enough different controllers to pick up too... It would also make as a menu for a single player game much more fluid. It would really be annoying to have to pick up the stylus in the middle of the game to change items.

PLUS a capacitive screen lets more light through making for a brighter display. And I actually wouldn't mind if Nintendo made the screen smaller to reduce the cost. I hope they make the right decision.

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