Opera web browser on the Nintendo Wii

Along with all the other news coming out at E3 2006, Opera have announced that their web browser will run on the Nintendo Wii.

This follows the announcement in February that Opera will also be released for the Nintendo DS. There are photos of it in action on IGN.

This is interesting from a rendering point of view – most people are concerned about how web sites will look as resolutions increase, not decrease, for example see Dave Hyatt’s (lead engineer on Apple Safari) post on High DPI Web Sites. Remembering that the Wii does not support high-definition TV, Opera will have to render websites onto traditional telly screens which have 525 lines on NTSC, 576 visible lines on PAL and around 625 lines in SECAM (there are other variables, but I think this is close enough).

My home PC is connected to my TV, but it’s only really possible to use things like web browsers when I change the resolution down to 640×480, but you find that almost no web sites are designed with that in mind and so they’re much harder to use. Typical mobile clients have things like CSS disabling or the server sends a mobile-specific version based on, for example, the User-Agent string. It’ll be interesting to see if Opera use their small-screen rendering technique on the Wii or whether it just renders straight to screen as per normal.

In the last 12 months Opera have really been picking up speed in getting their software onto all kinds of devices (except, notably, into Nokia phones, which use a version of KHTML, which also powers Safari). This is great for Opera, but it does mean that lowly web developers like me need to be more aware of this powerful little browser which I think most people I know thought was on its way out.

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2 thoughts on “Opera web browser on the Nintendo Wii”

  1. We’re very far from being on our way out, the last few years have been the absolutely best ones in our existence.

    Resolution is commonly used to mean two different things, either screen size (how many pixels across the screeen) or pixel density (how many pixels per inch).

    It is true that we have focussed on the small screens width (128×128 pixels is maybe the most common screen size in the world), because has been the greatest challenge. We solve that by reformatting the page to fit those screens. But we also adapt pages for larger screen devices (like Wii) or for the big screen.

    Formally, and by CSS, a screen pixel is 1/96 of an inch (or 3/4 of a point) for desktop computers, but if you measure one inch across the screen, you will find that your inch may vary.

    Dave Hyatt was talking about high-resolution screens in pixels per inch, and actually we were the first to encounter those, as it were the phones that pioneered these kinds of high-quality high-resolution screens. That makes sense as you want to make phones small, but at the same time get bigger screens, so why not have a greater pixel density. Also, while high-quality screens are more expensive, phones only need tiny (and cheaper) ones.

    The next in line for these screens are embedded devices. Not only gaming devices, but also other screens like at dashboards, in plane seats, or anywhere else where you have limited space for the screen. While early adopter PC enthusiasts might get high-resolution screens, it won’t be common on that platform for a while yet.

    Finally, on the the opposite end of the spectrum, you have devices like plasma TVs. They can be enormously big and heavy, but have a ridiculously low resolution.

  2. Great response Jonny, thanks. I especially liked your mention of the relative resolutions of differently-sized devices; interesting stuff.

    Also, I definitely agree with yout about the recent successes of Opera, and I look forward to seeing where that takes you in the short and long-term future.

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