Digital Crave

Only using 10 percent of your Wii? Try these tips and tricks

Wii NetflixThe old saying that we only use 10 percent of our brains is totally false. The myth appears to have started with an advertising campaign, and has since been perpetuated by psychics and others with a particular agenda.

It is true, however, that most people only use about 10 percent of their gaming console systems. In the last few years, the Big Three (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii) have been jockeying for position to be your home entertainment hub for games, TV, movies, music and everything else. Here are 10 tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Wii.

Netflix and Closed Captioning

Recent surveys suggest that a big percentage of Wii users now use their system to watch movies and TV via the hugely popular Netflix instant streaming channel. But for years, one of the big drawbacks of Netflix on the Wii was the lack of closed captioning availability — critical for the deaf community and rather important for those of us who just prefer it.

Netflix has been working hard to remedy this situation in the last year or so, and now most new titles and popular content come with closed captioning options — if you know where to find them. Here's the trick: On the right hand side of the info page of any selected title, look for the tiny audio icon. Click it to bring up a list of all available subtitle and audio options.

If you have a Netflix digital subscription, a sortable list of closed captioned titles is available when you sign into the Netflix website.

Wii NewsWii News ChannelNews and Slideshows

The Wii News Channel is a friendly, decidedly Nintendo-style way to parse and browse the day's headlines. Thanks to the Wii's gentle and soothing design, even the West Nile virus seems cute.

A few tips for the News Channel: When perusing stories in the news reader, hold down the B button to scroll up or down with manual control. Keep the cursor toward the middle of the screen to scroll slowly, to the top or bottom to get speedy. You can also highlight text by holding the 1 button, and zoom in and out with the +/- buttons. Using the News Channel slideshow feature, you can adjust the length of time each slide stays onscreen by using the 1 and 2 buttons.

Wi-fi and Signal Strength

If you're using a wireless connection to connect your Wii connected to the Internet, you can set up multiple wireless connections and the Wii will default to the strongest signal. This is particularly helpful if you have a Wi-fi extender in the house. With our home setup, the base Wi-fi signal is sometimes stronger than our Wii-dedicated EXT signal, for reasons only the God of 2.4 GHz understands. To set up your wireless connections or manually switch them, go to Wii Options/Wii Settings/Internet/Connection Settings.

Check Mii OutCheck Mii OutNames and Celebrities

If you've never gone past the basic Mii Channel setup for creating and editing your Mii avatars, the Check Mii Out channel has been running for more than five years now (!) and is designed to let Wii users share and swap their various Mii creations. You can download Check Mii Out for free from the Wii Shop Channel.

There are literally millions of Mii creations out there modeled off celebrities, but if you're looking for something specific or obscure ("Bob Hoskins," say), there's no way to search by name from within the channel. However, there's a relatively fast workaround at MiiCharacters.com. You can search by name at the website, then enter the associated 12-digit code on the Wii by clicking though Check Mii Out/Posting Plaza/Search/Change (upper right corner of the screen)/Enter #.

Check Mii Out 2Check Mii Out 2Remotes and Avatars

You can store up to 10 Mii characters in a Wii Remote. This is quick and easy, and lets you bring your Mii with you when you play with your remote on a friend's console. In the Mii Channel, select the remote icon, choose the connected remote you want, and drag and drop your Mii into one of the 10 slots. A copy of your Mii is now living  "inside" your Wii Remote.

Netflix on Wii 2Netflix on Wii 2Netflix and the Instant Queue

This might seem too simple, but I missed it for years. When viewing the title screen of an individual movie or TV show on Netflix, there's a button to "Add to Instant Queue." That drops the title into the topmost row on the main browsing screen. But how do you remove titles from the Instant Queue? Easy, just click on the title you want removed. On the title screen, that button is now changed to "Remove From Instant Queue."

Wii BowlingWii BowlingBowling and Backswings

The ubiquitous Wii Sports game was bundled with the first wave of Wii systems, and pretty much everyone has played a frame or two of Wii Bowling. Here's a fun trick: If you release the B button during your backswing, the ball will go behind you into the crowd of observers, causing the spectators to jump and gasp.

Wii RemoteWii RemoteWii and DVD

A major drawback of the Wii as a home console is that, unlike the competition, it doesn't play DVD titles. There are some workarounds for this, but they're a bit too complicated to get into here, and involve hacking the Wii in ways that Nintendo officially discourages. (They may also void your warranty; this has been a point of contention for years.) If you want to learn more, there's no shortage of information online — just search for "wii dvd homebrew."

Remotes and Toothbrushes

If your Wii Remote gets a lot of heavy use, especially by kids with grimy hands, you may have encountered the dreaded sticky button issue. If you have a depressed button that won't click back up, the best solution is a delightfully analog one. Remove the batteries and use a slightly moistened toothbrush to scrub around the buttons, working the bristles between the button and casing. Afterward, the let the remote air dry with buttons facing down for at least two hours.

Wii Sensor BarWii Sensor BarSensor Bars and Candles

The Wii Remote works in part by triangulating signals from infrared LEDs in the Sensor Bar. If your remote isn't working properly, check for interference from infrared light sources in the room — fireplaces, beams of sunlight, even candles can throw off the system.

Note: This was written by Glenn McDonald, a Digital Crave contributor.

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