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Nintendo Wii U on sale Nov. 18; what you need to know

Ian Paul | Nov. 19, 2012
Nintendo's Wii U gaming console hits store shelves in the United States on Sunday, November 18, and the new console is already garnering criticism for missing some key features Nintendo promised.

How does external storage work?

Nintendo says the Wii U will support hard disk drives up to 2 terabytes in size. The Wii U cannot recognize drives larger than 2TB, but Nintendo says it is working on an update for December that will let the new console interface with larger drives.

The external HDD also needs its own power source; the game maker does not recommend trying to run an external HDD using power from the Wii U's USB 2.0 port. Nintendo also advises against using SSDs and portable flash drives for external storage.

What about SD cards?

You can use SD cards to save limited sets of Wii U data such as an image of your Mii avatar or transfer data from a Wii to a Wii U, but Nintendo says you cannot use an SD card to store Wii U game data.

Do I need a specific HDD format?

No, the Wii U will format the disk to its own specifications once you connect the drive to the console. Your Wii U drive will apparently use a proprietary file system since the drive can't moonlight as a back-up storage drive for your PC. It's not clear if you can partition a drive and use just one side for the Wii U.

An external drive formatted for the Wii U is also tied to one specific unit. That means you can't download a new game for the Wii U at home, store it to your external HDD, and then hook your HDD up to a friend's Wii U console later to play your new game.

Does the Wii U support multiple external hard drives?

You can format multiple hard drives to work with the Wii U, but the console can currently handle just one external HDD at a time. Nintendo says it plans to roll out at a later date the ability to connect multiple external storage units on one Wii U.

What other features are included in the Wii U?

Wii U owners will get access to Nintendo's Miiverse and, in the coming weeks, Nintendo plans to release an update that includes built-in access to Amazon on Demand, Hulu Plus, and Netflix. YouTube streaming will also be supported, and the Wii U has a built-in Web browser as well as its own chat client.

Nintendo has high hopes for the Wii U after the company's 3DS mobile gaming system failed to capture the attention of many gamers. As IDG News reported in October, unlike competitors Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo's income is heavily reliant on the popularity of its gaming consoles.


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