Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wii Photo Channel to drop MP3 playback (and Shop Channel to allow gifts)

Nintendo announced on my Wii yesterday that a new version (v1.1) of the Photo Channel is available, and includes the ability to play AAC files and lets you choose a photo to use as the Photo Channel icon on the Wii menu. Sounds great, if less than groundbreaking. Well, I wasn't interested in downloading it last night, and it's a good thing I didn't. I looked it up today and found out that they're not simply adding AAC support, they're dropping MP3 support when they do! That's stupid - MP3 is still the most user-friendly and popular audio format out there; why drop it? Surely the codecs aren't so large that the Wii can't hold them both simultaneously! I like the idea of adding AAC files - they have their advantages - but not dropping MP3 in FAVOR of AAC!

At least they're being smart about it - you don't HAVE to upgrade your Photo Channel if you don't want to: other Wii system updates will continue to install, no problem. I guess it's like not downloading the Internet Channel - it's just a program that's either there, or not.

The other good thing is that the same article states that games with MP3 support will not be affected at all by this change. Wait, there's games that play MP3s?
Apparently I should be reading the instruction manuals that come with my games - Excite Truck can do just that! That's awesome, because other than Bust-a-move Bash and maybe Rayman, Excite Truck's soundtrack is the most annoying one I've heard in a Wii game. I've got to try that out now.

Well, back on the Photo Channel change - I guess if I decide to install it, I can just use iTunes to rip my the existing MP3s I want the Wii to play into AAC (available by right-clicking on a song in your library and choosing "Convert to AAC". Then once I rip them into AAC and move the file onto the SD card, I'll have to delete the duplicate song from the iTunes library. Not the best, but I guess if I decide I really want a custom icon in the Wii menu, there are worse things. Hopefully Nintendo will realize people aren't happy with this change and add it back in. Of course, it's only techno-geeks that care, so I'm guessing that masses of angry Nintendo fans won't be storming Kyoto anytime soon.

One thing that's very cool that they announced in the same message, however, is the new ability to give Wii Shop software as gifts to other Wii owners you have in your buddy list. That's more fun than giving Wii points cards, and it looks like they've done a good job of allowing you to refuse the gift, giving the giver a full refund if you don't want it, and not allowing someone to give you something you've already got. And if you don't accept the gift for 45 days, it's automatically returned, with a full refund for the giver. Nice.

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