Slave to the Game

Filling you in on the oddball gaming news

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Those who have noticed their Wii sporting a glowing blue light (or no light at all for a non-Internet connected console) will be pleased to know that a new system firmware has been released.

New in version 3.1 of the firmware is expanded USB keyboard support, improving greatly over keyboard implementation in previous firmware versions. Hyperlinks may now be included in messages, which can be launched directly into a web browser with a Wii Remote click. Users of the Internet Channel will find with the new 3.1 firmware an experience that better matches a full-featured web browser.

Speaking of the Internet Channel, there also appears to be an updated version of the browser software available for download. Also, an improved “Everybody Votes” Wii Channel is also online, allowing users to input questions of their own.

Version 3.1 firmware builds on all the changes introduced in version 3, such as an on-screen digital clock and the ability to rearrange the Wii Friends address book.

Currently, the only way to obtain the new system software is through the Wii's Wi-Fi Internet connection, as games have yet to ship with the firmware update included.

With the latest Wii firmware update a couple months ago, one little-known feature added support for USB keyboards. The reason most people didn't notice was because it was missing from the spot it would be most useful: the Internet browser.

That changed today, however, as Opera announced a new update of the Internet Channel. The biggest new feature is USB keyboard support, allowing you to write e-mails, blogs or any of the other activities you probably do on the computer you're reading this from. The update also allows you to send links to those on your Wii friends list, along with other incremental upgrades like updating the B button as a "Shift" key on the soft keyboard, a copy and paste function, and more storage for bookmarks.

Unfortunately, the Internet Channel hasn't been free since June 30, so if these features sound like must-haves, you'll have to pony up the necessary 500 Wii points ($5 USD) to access them.