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Nintendo on Tuesday unveiled the Wii U, a new gaming platform that adds a small screen to a controller that can interact with the larger TV screen or be used as a standalone handheld device.

The white Wii U controller features a built-in, 6.2-inch screen, as well as the usual control and circle pads and buttons. It also includes a microphone, speakers, an accelerometer, gyroscope, and front-facing camera.

Much of the focus at the E3 press event today was on that controller rather than the console. In demo videos, the console appeared in the background and wasn't much larger than the Wii U controller.

The Wii U will make its debut in 2012; Nintendo did not discuss pricing.

In addition to usual Wii gaming, however, the Wii U adds casual games, video chat, a Web browser, drawing app, motion controls, and other tablet-esque features. If you're playing a game and someone wants to watch something on TV, for example, you can switch your game to the Wii U controller. Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's global president, however, stressed that the Wii U "was not designed to be a portable video game machine."


 





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