A bunch of small changes add up to a nice update. Also, the Wii Shop Channel gets a face lift. Update: Looks like USB keyboard support is in, too, but unlicensed discs are out.
UPDATE: Reports from around the Internet have revealed that this new firmware update also supports USB keyboards for text input in the Wii Message Board area. We have confirmed this to be true. However, keyboards will not work within the Wii channels (like the Internet Channel), meaning that they would need to be individually updated for keyboard text input to be recognized. Hopefully, the Wii firmware update is the first step in seeing that happen.
In addition, the update has disabled all of Datel's unlicensed discs, including Freeloader, Action Replay, and MaxDrive. This means that upgraded consoles no longer have a means of playing GameCube discs from other regions through a software solution. The update warns users that consoles with hardware modifications might not work after the update; however, it turns out that consoles with hardware modifications currently still function after the update.
There were also several more minor updates:
- The fan may turn on in standby mode to alleviate the overheating problem that has affected some Wii systems.
- The disc slot glows organically (rather than just turning on) when discs are inserted and removed as well as when starting the Forecast and News Channels.
- Message notifications, including an audible tone, now occur while the Wii is on the channels screen.
- The + and - keys can be used to scroll through the options pages.
- Channel switching times have decreased.
Wii owners will find upon entering the Wii Shop Channel that a new Wii system update is available. The firmware update, which brings the console up to version 3.0, brings a lot of minor additions to the Wii Menu and its various channels. Thanks to EphemeralDream of NeoGAF, we can highlight the changes in an easy-to-swallow format:
- A digital clock has been added to the bottom of the Wii Menu, letting you know the current time (as you have set it in the Wii options menu).
- The Forecast Channel window on the Wii Menu will show the "current" weather condition. (According to my Wii, it's 11:12 PM and sunny outside. Still not really current!)
- The News Channel window on the Wii Menu will scroll current news headlines. When selecting the channel, more news headlines will scroll across the screen. The Wii notes that you should frequently use the News Channel to keep the headlines coming, indicating that they are not automatically updated.
- The "Today's Accomplishments" messages that appear on the Wii Message Board are now white in color, to help differentiate it from other messages.
- The sound produced by scrolling up and down a message has been changed to a clicking sound.
- The Message Board calendar will ignore days that only have a "Today's Accomplishments" message and nothing else.
- Names in the Address Book can be moved to a blank line by holding the A and B Buttons together, as with moving other objects in and around the Wii's menus and channels.
In addition to the Wii Menu changes, the Wii Shop Channel has returned with more useful sorting and searching options. The new welcome screen shows four recommended titles and their Wii Points price, and has a link at the top to show more recommended games, if you still aren't sure what to get. (Alternatively, you could check with us every week for our Virtual Console recommendations.) The biggest change is the ability to sort games by genre, system, publisher, or custom text search. With all the games that will eventually be on the service, it's a welcome change for those who wouldn't know where to begin with the downloading.
Remember, you'll need to manually update your Wii to get the new-look Wii Menu and gain access to the new Wii Shop Channel. If the update option in the Wii Settings isn't working, try testing your Internet connection. The system will then automatically perform the update after that.