Nintendo's Wii is the most popular game console on the market, partially because of its appeal to boomers. The game system trails Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3 in graphics and raw power. But its easy-to-use controllers and emphasis on getting players off the couch—with games like Wii Fit— has helped get more people over 40 into the game market.
But soon a new feature of the Wii will be planting people's butts back on the couch. Nintendo has reached an agreement with Netflix to provide movies and television programs on demand through the Wii console.
The Netflix movie-on-demand service is already available on Microsoft's Xbox 360 as part of the XBox Live Gold premium online service. It's also available on Sony's PS3, internet-connected Blu-ray players, and a number of digital video players. Using your existing internet service, you can select a movie from Netflix's sizeable movie library, and then the movie is sent as a "stream" of digital video to the console.
While the video quality of these other options might be better—the Wii doesn't have high-definition video output—the Wii rules when it comes to simplicity. The Wii has its own built-in WiFi, so it's easy to connect it to your home network. After a recent change of our wireless router's password, my 9-year-old daughter got the Wii back on the internet.
There's a financial upside for Wii owners, too. The Netflix software for the Wii will come free on an optical disk.You don't need to buy any other service to connect to Netflix with the Wii—other than Netflix $8.99-a-month subscription.
In comparison, the XBox 360 requires a subscription to its own online gaming service, and either a wired connection to your home network or an $80 add-on WiFi adaptor. However, the XBox version of the Netflix service does have a feature that will appeal more to your teenagers— it lets you to watch a movie along with your XBox Live friends online, and talk to each other over the console's headsets.