It's been about a week since the Wii U launched, enough time to run the system through its paces. I've had my fair share of problems, and I really hope Nintendo addresses those matters sooner rather than later. However, there are other things that make me excited to see how the tech will be applied in the coming years.
I've kinda fallen in love with watching YouTube on my Wii U. I'm not talking about the dedicated YouTube app -- keep that sh*t away from me. You can't watch videos on the GamePad, and sometimes your subscription feed won't even load. What a joke.
No, I'm talking about using YouTube via the already amazing built-in browser. The level of convenience and functionality it provides is so remarkable that I can honestly see it being my go-to device for watching web videos. If you haven't already tried it, let me tell you what's in store.
Visiting YouTube on the Wii U's browser is no different than visiting YouTube on your computer -- the site layout is identical and you can sign in without a hitch. It's when you actually go to watch a video that the magic happens.
After hitting "play," the video instantly fills up the entire GamePad. You can pause, seek forward or back, or scale non-widescreen videos to get rid of the black bars on the side. Standard stuff, save for the fact that the video is playing on the GamePad, granting a freedom that the regular YouTube app can't provide.
It gets better! Normally, the web browser displays the same view on both the GamePad and the TV screen. When you tap the button in the bottom-right corner of the player, the video is hidden from view on the GamePad, giving you access to the browser while the video continues the play on the television. The control bar remains so you can pause or seek at your leisure.
In case I wasn't clear, you can watch YouTube on the TV and browse the Internet on the GamePad at the same time!
It gets even better! You have to exit out of a game in progress in order to use the standalone YouTube app. In contrast, the web browser is accessible from the Home menu at any time and doesn't require you to close your game. Imagine that you are stuck in a game and need assistance. You could pause the game, open the browser, catch a walkthrough video on the TV while sifting through GameFAQs on the GamePad, then jump right back into the game without missing a beat!
So what's the catch? I honestly can't find any. The only issues of note are that annotations don't show up and, though you can switch to HD resolutions when available, you can't watch videos at 240p. I've always found annotations super annoying and close them as soon as they appear, so I consider their absence a boon. And does anybody ever watch YouTube at lower than the default resolution of 360p, regardless of how shitty their connection is?
I can't sing the praises of YouTube viewing on the Wii U browser enough. It's not a game-changer by any stretch, but the fact that it's so robust adds joy to an already pleasant browsing experience. I can't wait to find more hidden treasures like this!