News Article

Nintendo's Recommended Range For GamePad Use Is Conservative

Posted by Andy Green

Playing it safe

Ever since the GamePad was revealed people have wondered just how far away from your TV you can go with it. Can you get to the next room? The kitchen? The bathroom? The garden shed? So far Nintendo have only confirmed that you can definitely play it within the same room and the official Wii U specs declare a maximum range of up to 26 feet, but it appears that with the right variables you can go much further than that.

It all depends on where you live and what radio frequencies you’re surrounded by. For example, in small towns that have a distinct lack of radio frequencies - leaving people unable to listen to the radio or get phone signal - it appears chances of getting way over that 26 foot recommendation are much greater.

Speaking to Polygon, Dino Bekis, senior director of Wireless Connectivity at Broadcom - the company who developed the technology that connects the Wii U with the GamePad - said he wouldn't be surprised if some people can get to a distance over four times the figure given by Nintendo, but understood why the creator of the Wii U was being conservative in its recommendation:

They have to make sure that it will operate in all of these different environments. If you're in an environment that has a lot of different (WI-FI routers) running simultaneously or other interference, you won't get the same range. We've done many multiples of (Nintendo's suggested range), but Nintendo's perspective is that they want to guarantee a flawless user experience.

The distance you can go to depends on many other variables as well - such as the material your house and furniture is made of - so if you're the little pig who built his house from straw you may now point and laugh at your foolish bricklaying friend from down the street.

Bekis also mentioned that the Near Field Communication technology his company implemented into the GamePad is something that could bring a huge amount of opportunities to Wii U. At the moment he appears to be as in the dark as the rest of us as to what ideas Nintendo are cooking up for the technology but he expects them to announce more details about NFC after the console launches, saying everyone should “watch this space”.

Would you be disappointed if you couldn't make it into the next room with your GamePad without hindering performance, or are you fine sat in the same room as the Wii U console? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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User Comments (30)



Robo-goose said:

"so if you're the little pig who built his house from straw you may now point and laugh at your foolish bricklaying friend from down the street."
Heh heh, I laughed. I like this creative writing, man. Keep it up!



Wonder_Ideal said:

You can be sure that I will test how far away I can get with the GamePad as soon as I get my Wii U. If I can use it from my room, I will be very happy.



tsm7 said:

What happens when you do lose the connection? Does it just fizzle out or pause the game?



Auracle said:

It would be fun to test its limits. However, if it can't reach outside my family room, then that's fine with me.



MrWalkieTalkie said:

If by some miracle it will still connect all the way from the tv room to my room, things will get epic!



ei8htbit said:

The folks at Gamexplain did a funny distance test from his multilevel flat that gives a pretty good estimation of what is realistic in terms of walls and different floors, etc. You can check it out here:
Of course the experience will be entirely different for everyone but I'm liking my odds of being able to play from my bedroom that is a floor above the vicinity of my gaming setup. I think it will be a revelation.
ALSO guys, fret not - keep in mind that any game that just require the GamePad for single player use (like NSMBU) doesn't actually need the sensor bar at all or any other junk for that matter - what this means is that you can literally just plug in the Wii U to any power outlet in the room you're in and you can play entirely without a TV (or on your back deck etc).



diim said:

Haaaa, My thoughts exactly rogerwilco
I was worried that wasn't able to use the bathroom and play some Mass Effect at the same time. Now I'm getting this console for sure!!!



aaronsullivan said:

Hmm... the bathroom distance in our house could be questionable. lol. I just realized I'm going to have to teach my kids how to handle electronics in the bathroom so you don't get germs on them or drop them in the toilet. I could keep it short like: keep it in your pocket or don't bring it in, but better to arm them with knowledge in case they give in to temptation. (Wait is this an electronics discussion or... )



theblackdragon said:

^ looks like we're gonna need an article on proper bathroom gamepad usage and/or etiquette, haha. Lysol, anyone? :3



aaronsullivan said:

@ei8htbit Thanks for the link. Seems like one wall or floor is going to be okay. Line of site gives you the maximum distance and it stutters a bit and sometimes recovers when you reach the limit.

Furthermore, from my own experience resetting kiosks I can tell you that if they aren't communicating the Gamepad shows a screen with a message very much like the message that appears if your Wii remote loses its connection. It seems to happen while the Wii U is booting and the GamePad is already on. May not be the same in the final version.

All of this refined GamePad tech is why the new XBox and PS4 have to be toying with having a similar device from the get go?

Microsoft is already going to have a tablet out before the new console. The thing is it's not an easy task to pull off the almost complete lack of latency the GamePad experiences. I was amazed when playing Rayman how playable it was. You can't really pull off what it is doing in that game with any type of latency beyond a frame or so at 60fps. Judging from experiments that Sony and Microsoft were already exploring at E3 the development teams are going to quickly realize this.

Nintendo has a head start here and Microsoft and Sony have to decide if they are all in or not if they want any kind of significant support for their devices going forward. If they DO include some sort of second screen with low latency from the start, what will happen to the specs of the console itself or the price? The decisions aren't so easy. Will Sony rely on the Vita for this? Not at a similar latency or price. Maybe if Vita was a big seller it would be a good compromise.

Anyway, the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony are going to be curious beasts, indeed. Not sure how much I'll care as I've been a late comer to every Sony generation and never bought a Microsoft console.



Sun said:

We are surrounded by unhealthy electromagnetic waves so I understand every new device must put their signal over others to work properly.



Ryno said:

@Sun: Stop being such a party pooper! We will all deal with the cancer from all the electromagnetic radiation when we are older. Now is the time to enjoy wireless technology!



Raylax said:

26 feet is conservative? For what, the grand hall of a medieval castle?



CrissCross87 said:

Hrmmm, I live in an apartment complex with plenty of strong router signals close to my room. I figured the 26 set would be most likely what I'm gonna get since Japan is even more cramped housing wise. But I do wonder what a normal american house would get as recommended.



Void said:

I live out in the country, I have some people like, 1,500 feet or so away from my house, but they don't have internet, so I can probably play on the GamePad in my room which is about 40 feet away, and it would be in about a straight line to where I would put the Wii U.



Varia01 said:

I do prefer being alone most times. Maybe this will make it even better! I hope the console can reach the gamepad from the living room to my bedroom!



WingedSnagret said:

Hmm, my bedroom is directly above where the system would go downstairs. Guess it should work for me.



SanderEvers said:

So this means the WiiU Pad needs to be on the same WiFi network as the console.. well, I can do that.



Sun said:

@Master_Ryno LOL I don't want to die because of that!
@Others If you want to play on the upper floor you can always attach the Wii U to the ceiling!
Seriously, don't ask for too much wireless power.



rjejr said:

@SanderEvers I'm pretty sure the Gamepad doesn't have built in Wi Fi (mor elikely some bluetooth variant) so it doesn't connect to your router, just directly to the Wii U. If it had WiFi it would be a tablet and not a console controller.



Sun said:

@rjejr I agree, all the connections are between the console and the gamepad, that's wireless but not precisely WiFi. Iwata Asks explains that everything has to be processed over the console, even the simplest tasks. The challenge is to send the data very fast over the air, more difficult than it seems.



redclow said:

Greater range for small towns!

That means my range will be the best, cause I live on a farm!

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