The Wii U GamePad is Nintendo's next big home console innovation and the main selling point of the system. A big part of that appeal is the fact that it wirelessly streams the game, whether it's a match for the TV images or alternative features, from the console to the controller. We all know that, but one thing we don't yet know is how well it'll work in practice at home.
Ubisoft has already stated that, from its tests, GamePad latency is just 1/60 of a second, or one frame, which means that the controller's screen will practically match the TV output. That's a positive, but the next major concern is the wireless range that will allow this latency to work effectively, with gamers wondering just how far they can move away from the system. This topic has been addressed in the latest Iwata Asks, including the most important question: will the range make the GamePad functional in the bathroom?
Yamashita: Everyone will probably test to see how far the radio waves will reach in their house. (laughs)
Iwata: As Nintendo, we say that it will be fine using it within the same living room where the console is in, but a lot of people ask what about through a wall?
Yamashita: Yeah. The other day, someone in a different department asked if he could use it in his bathroom at his house! (laughs)
Iwata: Differences will arise depending on whether you live in a house made of wood or an apartment of reinforced concrete, and what materials the walls are made out of.
Yamashita: Yes. What we can say for certain is that it will be fine within the same space.
Iwamoto: However, if you place the Wii U console in something like a metal TV stand it may deflect the radio waves thus reducing its usable range. Radio waves weakens by the square of the distance, so even within the same space, too much distance could make them weaker, and having obstacles in between would be a disadvantage.
...Iwata: Playing at Yamashita-san's house worked with one wall in-between! (laughs) When asked "Can I use it in my bedroom?" we can say that it would work within the same space when there is nothing in the way, but basically it depends on how your house is constructed, so we have to ask that you test it in your own home.
It's clear that, unless you're using the wrong TV furniture, the same room as the system won't be a problem for the wireless functionality to work properly. That said, the GamePad can't be treated as a handheld and used throughout the house, unless perhaps you live in a single-storey apartment. On the plus side, this Iwata Asks goes into great detail to explain the technology and testing that's behind the controller, suggesting that no stone has been left unturned in terms of ensuring reliability.
On a lighter note, the following excerpt shows that these Iwata Asks sessions appear to be a lot of fun, and we can't help but wish we were there with them to join in with the laughter.
Iwamoto: We were supposed to be making a controller, but it has all the functions of a handheld!
Yamashita: Yes. And they all run wirelessly. We had to develop software for a lot of things—NFC, the TV control button, and the geomagnetic sensor — it was a lot of work! However, with regard to NFC, when we saw your announcement, Iwata-san, we were shocked. We were like, "Huh?! He's announcing that?!" (laughs)
Iwata: Is that so? Sorry about that! (laughs)
We recommend that you take the time to read the full Iwata Asks article for more details on the GamePad, as it's full of interesting information. We'll be trying to have as much fun as Iwata-san and company here at NL towers, too (laughs).