Today's forecast: Wii weather channel debuts

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Redmond (WA) - Marking the one month anniversary of Nintendo's latest video game system, the Wii received its first major update to the console's online platform today, as Nintendo rolled out the Wii Forecast Channel. Now, users have the ability to check current and projected future weather conditions from areas around the country and the world, directly from the console's main menu.

Wii owners can now connect online to download a Wii firmware update, which will add access to the Forecast Channel. Once it is downloaded, users are prompted to choose a state (the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are also in the list), then a city. It then displays current conditions, including temperature, cloudiness, precipitation, and wind speed, with appropriate weather-related graphics on the screen.

There are several buttons on the screen as well, including one that lets users scroll to tomorrow's full forecast, as well as a one-page five-day forecast image. Other features include checking the current UV index and the ability to toggle between displays in fahrenheit and celsius for temperature, as well as mph and km/h for wind speed.

Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is the "Globe", which takes the user to a Google Earth type of interface and lets them scroll through the entire planet, while major cities pop up on the map, allowing users to click on them and see all the available weather information from that city. Users scroll through the map by holding down the A button and moving the Wii remote, and they can change the view by zooming in and out, as well as by changing the viewing angle. Finally, from the map view, users can toggle between an overall picture of today's weather, tomorrow's weather, today's temperature, and tomorrow's temperature.

The new service, which was originally expected to be available on the console's launch date of November 19, augments the existing online offering for the Wii, which allows users to purchase classic games from the NES, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx16. There is no additional cost to access the Forecast Channel. The News Channel, also originally expected to be available right out of the box, is planned to be released next month.