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Digital Foundry: Wii U GamePad Isn’t As Complex As The Most Basic Android Tablet


Respected tech analysis site Digital Foundry has written an interesting article titled The Secrets of the Wii U GamePad. The Wii U GamePad has been reverse-engineered by the developers behind Dolphin. The team contacted developer Pierre Bourdon to find out more about the innovative device. The conclusion that the team came to is that the Wii U GamePad isn’t anywhere near as complex as the most basic Android powered tablet.

The GamePad itself isn’t anywhere near as complex as even the most basic Android tablet – essentially it’s a standard game controller, with a touch-screen and a WiFi card, paired up with a decoder chip for the incoming video stream. Controller inputs themselves are beamed back to the Wii U via the same WiFi channel (180 times per second no less), in contrast to the Bluetooth employed by the Wiimote.


118 thoughts on “Digital Foundry: Wii U GamePad Isn’t As Complex As The Most Basic Android Tablet”

      1. I love how you never actually read the ending because they still have the Wii U and they are just asking Nintendo to fix the problem of sales.

        Wow, trolls keep getting dumber and dumber each day XD

    1. TheTrruth4thaHaters

      I know lol… what the hell do these trolls expect? A friggin super computer GAMMA powered gamepad? LOL WTF? All press is good press in the end, even bad press… all this bullsnot is going to bit everyone in the ass soon enough lol.

      1. TheTrruth4thaHaters

        I guess they think the ps4 controller with its microscopic touchscreen, which is the same tech as the gamepad, is revolutionary? HA! Ok digital trolls.

    2. …lol? Of course it’s not, It wasn’t meant to be. Also you made an error and put “respected” instead of “lame”. Also if you post another ridiculous article like this im going somewhere else for my news, this is absurd, you guys are turning mynintendonews into a troll site instead of a news site.

  1. This is no surprise, the Wii U gamepad isnt a tablet, its a GamePad, it has no GPU and no CPU, all it does is display the screen on the screen it has using the power of the system

    1. Nothing, not even LED displays, cant display an image without some, at least primitive, form of GPU/CPU.

      1. Sky Grounder [@ Wii U]

        Simple hard-coded datachips. The Wiimote/Pro controller LEDs can blink withou being connected to a console.

    1. Yeah, next thing they are going to say is the the PS4 controller isn’t as Complex as most Smartphones O0O

  2. i tell you am surprise with tge stupidity of this people….since the ganepad was show nintendo say…is not a tablet is a cobtroller with a touch screen…it is tied to the console so what the hell they think tgey will found? and tgat is tge reason i know the wii u is not week…this console is movibg two screen one HD up to 1080p the other one is SD in some games two diferent things on the lazy one just a copy of the main screen…but it is week? the ps3 can do this with the vita that it have cpu and gpu but not if sony realese a copy cobtroler like the gamepad with noooo gpu…cpu.and ram

      1. i know but am not using a pc is my galaxy player 4.0 wich is a pain to write when you have big fingers

    1. well duh they KNOW that because they can use that for high train their own site. Be real here they believe if they keep doing this will convince people that is true just like ReviewTechUSA. If you think digital foundry is stupid think again they know shit like this gets them views.

    1. really? I am quite big (about 6’3) so accordingly, I have quite large hands, and I think that the controller I amazing. it feels perfected. like they took at lot of time to make the controller as comfortable as possible

    2. Dude the Game Pad is the most comfortable controller I have ever held. Made for kids? Its the biggest controller ever made except maybe the original xbox controller, how could you possibly say it was made for kids to hold?

  3. I also heard my TV is less complex then my computer. Ohh wait. They’re completely different pieces of technology.

  4. Funny. I thought the first set of comments were gonna be U bashing, but it’s the opposite.

    Of course it’d be less complex than the basic android, there’s no cpu or gpu in it. No communication system in it. It’s meant to work as a controller with touch, gyrometer, and accelerometer, not an actual tablet. -sigh-

    1. The ignorant crap that this site reports is getting old. Just like you said. It’s just a controller for the console. There shouldn’t e a bunch of processors on a videogame controller. The gamepad is the most feature packed video game controller the world has ever known.

  5. Why does this site CONSTANTLY post every bullshit criticism that every idiot has for the WiiU. It’s funny the Internet works better on the gamepad than my iPad. I can type a sentence on it without typos and error and don’t forget all the processing is in the console. Come on Mynintendonews!!!!!!!! Stop posting this idiotic shit. It’s getting F’ing old.

    1. The *original* article was not criticizing the Wii U in any way at all. It was presenting a fairly factual analysis of how the Wii U gamepad works.

      People are too sensitive. Sheesh.

  6. People forget that for the 3DS and Wiiu , Nintendo DELIBERATELY chose Resistive touch screen so you can draw.

    Multi touch is completely 100% useless in Gaming especially if you have a full set of buttons. Miiverse without the Drawing would not be half as good.
    Nintendo would probably choose Resistive again next gen as Multi touch is litteraly a useless gimmik , unless it’s on a buttonless smarthphone where it becomes essential.

    The Gamepad is simple but the latency free streaming is top of the range and unrivaled.

    1. Thank god it single touch. The amount of input errors I deal with when doing even the most basic functions n my iPad make me wanna throw in the river.

      1. Well that’s usual busiensss with iCrap….

        Using a screen like the drawing tabkets or those huge Samsung phones would have made everything better. More precisesly than the Wii U Gamepad, finger and pen input, (SGS-note2) = 1024 measurable “pressure-strengths”, it would live longer.

    2. Resistive screens are NOT better than the capacitive screens. Iwata lied to don’t believe a guy who doesn’t know the difference between CPU and FPU.

        1. He’s been working in gaming since the 8 bit era. I’d hope he knows more about programming than most other people.

      1. No, resistive screens are better than capacitive screens because it is more precise (stylus gives precise points on the screen), the resistive screen can be old tech, but on the Wii U Gamepad is perfect as it is. Yes, it is more cool the zoom in/out features of the multitouch, but I preffer precise points on real games. And no, your second statement is just trolling, try harder next time.

        1. how is he trolling when iwata know the wii u spects. oh just because he does not say the spects on public does not mean he knows.

      1. “Multi touch is litteraly a useless gimmik , unless it’s on a buttonless smarthphone where it becomes essential.”

        Come on now. Don’t be transparently selective taking quotes out of context.

        He acknowledges on buttonless devices, multitouch is needed.

        On the Wii U gamepad, which is covered in buttons, I don’t think multitouch would help all that much. Would be nice to have pinch to zoom for web browsing and stuff. But in games, its not really much use.

        On phones and tablets, multitouch only emulates analog stocks, dpads and buttons. On a controller than already has all of those, a single resistive touch is ok.

        Not great by any means, but I think we can all understand why they chose it. The added functionality of multitouch would justify the extra cost on a gaming device.

      2. ” in Gaming” where has multitouch been essential for a game other than what he has listed? I don’t 100% agree with him but he has a point

  7. making fun of nintendo is funny but it got old a long time ago. wii u to android this is getting dull and this its cool to talk shit about nintendo every chance we can is getting old.

    1. If people wanna make fun of something they should turn their sights on that shiny turd the Vita. Here you have a machine that blows the 3ds out of the water spec wise and is a complete failure. Why single out Nintendo all the time?

      1. exactly, i talk a lot of shit about nintendo sometimes but thats for normal reasons in the last 3 years. people who try to stand up for the vita are stupid sheep and its just a huge mountain of shit that flys like to keep shitting on. like wii u to vita, the wii u sucks, all right but in the near future it demolishes that thing!!!!! just people need to stop being such kiss asses to there beloved company.

          1. so i heard that the psvita waas going to be bundled with the ps4. told you so!!! unless there lying to me im to lazy to look up if there right though

        1. I’m just gonna go play my shitty Wii u. That should calm me down. This is getting old though. I have owned almost every console since my parents bought an intellivision and SEGA master system never have I seen gamers act this idiotic. People are losing their damn minds. If you think the Wiiu sucks fine, but the need to make strangers feel bad about something they enjoy is sick and twisted and is a sign that humanity is veering further and further off course with each generation born. Jeez…..

          1. “Since my parents bought a intellivision” Im sry but i think they still buy your consoles. How did i come to the conclusión you said? Your stupid kiddy comment.

  8. I thought that they were complimenting the Wii U Game Pad when they said it’s not as complicating as the most basic android tablet (because complicating is bad)? I seem to be the only one that took it that way.

    1. Yeah, there’s pretty much nothing negative said in the article. Some people seem to get easily agitated over a few simple statements if the words are not, “PRAISE BE TO OUR SAVIOR, NINTENDO!”

  9. and where’s the news?
    we already knew it was pretty much just a controller with a screen + a high end wifi connection and some very basic processing capabilities

      1. which is currently high end, since it’s by no means standard and was specifically developed by broadcom and nintendo to suit the needs of the console

        additionally it has close to 0 latency
        most cheap wireless devices introduce quite a bit of latency

        so yeah
        high end

  10. Well fucking duh. there’s no processing in the controller, the processing is done by the console and then streamed

  11. And the big surprise is? Nobody believed the 170$ cost thing, with said things it’s maybe 50$.

    1. Are you stupid or just acting? I wich way this said that the price should be lower or that is cheap technology?

  12. I didn’t buy it to be a tablet I bought it to play games and it does that very well. We knew this from the get-go with the Wii U, Nintendo said that the controller wouldn’t have any processors, so why does digital foundry feel the need to restate this?

  13. somebody give this fucking retard a clue cause he apparently has forgotten that the gamepad is a controller and not a tablet.

  14. Wait… a gamepad designed to be used as a controller for a console is not as complex as a Tablet that was built for multiple uses?… HOLY SHIT!!

    Tose guys r smarts

    1. Sky Grounder [@ Wii U]

      “The Wii U GamePad has been reverse-engineered by the developers behind Dolphin.” Dolphin is a Gamecube/Wii emulator for PC. They probably reverse-engineered it to find a way to connect it to the PC, and/or they might be trying to emulate the Wii U.

  15. No one ever thought it was as complex as a smart phone or tablet. It’s a controller with a big touchscreen. That’s all it has to be, that’s all it we want it to be.

  16. The Wii U gamepad will defenitely feel really out-dated in a year, in fact, it already does. The image quality on that thing (from 3rd parties, Nintendo games have better image) reminds me of any digital camera display from 2000.

    Nintendo have good intentions and theories with Wii U, but they don’t do a good job. This is a fact and I’m not hating on them, just wondering why they would do the concept of Wii U in such a half-arsed manner. I love Nintendo, but if you would list all their consoles from best to worst, Wii U would be the worst (no counting VR, because it wouldn’t even make it on the list). I mean, come on, Wii U doesn’t beat NES, SNES, N64, GB, GBC, GBA, DS, 3DS or Wii, not even close!

    I bought the Wii U because of games. I am sure Super Smash, the new Zelda, 3D Mario and Metroid will deliver, but 3rd parties will not deliver at all. NFSMWU, MH3 and LEGO City are three disastrous games. Partly because they all feel half-arsed (NFS->Poor FPS, repetitive races MH3->Shitty game-feel LEGO->POOR loading times, inconsistent performance (is low framerate supposed to be next-gen?!), etc) and partly because modern game design theory sucks so hard compared to 10 years ago.


    Earlier on, at Wii U release, I did not have these thoughts, I was biased. Now after a while, when the hype has died, I’ve realised the above. Now this is the most awful site on the planet to get your opinions and views respected by others in a mature way after youtube, but please, be reasonable and if you intend to reply on this as a butthurt Nintendo kid, then please reconsider. Thank you.

    1. Well maybe if you played the right 3rd party games. Need for Speed with the gamepad tilt is the greatest game I have ever played in my life. I have already put in over 50 hours. It has changed gaming for me forever.

      Ninja Gaiden is quite spectacular as well. (though somewhat put out by nintendo.)

      I no longer want to game anymore if I can’t talk to everyone else who is playing the game, or create and find new artwork based on the game that is breathtaking.

      1. I really enjoyed NFS on the PC, but still there it had performance issues (40FPS max). I thought that the game would be amazing on my Wii U which is A) next-gen, it must run the game better than the PC, as the game can be optimized for the specific hardware, B) the awesome wheel feature with the gamepad and C) Free DLC and extra features with the gamepad.

        Too bad the game runs horrible. Worse than on PC. These issues really ruin the feeling for me, I mean, come on, it’s a fast paced racer, it shouldn’t constantly strutter like it does. Anyways, it was 50% off when I got it, so I guess those 30$ are barely worth the 15 hours of gameplay.

    2. Sky Grounder [@ Wii U]

      Your opinion differs a lot from mine. Although I agree the loading times in Lego City is way too long.

    1. Tomato is a fruit! :P On the serious note, some people say it is a fruit due to similarity of fruit elements. Other such as cookers, chefs, grocery store, etc will say it is a vegetable due to good combination with vegetable when its come to cooking. So it is going be never end debates.

  17. Okay?
    I swear, Digital Foundry is just useless.
    Does the streaming to the gamepad work, with next to no latency? Yes.

    Thats it, that’s all you need to know.

    1. I also hate parts of that article are basically just talking about the negative effects hackers and modders would face, and how the PowerPC is “meh” for emulation.

      That’s probably because you’re not supposed to fucking do it in the first place.

        1. Well if a hackers say that my console is not good for hacking i would take that has a complement.

  18. Because the GamePad is not a tablet, when are they going to understand it? It is a controller that incorporates the most popular peripheral Nintendo has produced in the last decade, the Touch Screen, it’s value as a device doesn’t derive from the touch capabilities or the apps, it derives from having A SECONDARY SCREEN.

  19. The Gamepad is a fucking controller…no processor is in it like a pathetic tablet. The Wii U Gamepad isn’t a tablet.

  20. I would be surprised if it were suppose to be an Android tablet, but seeing as it IS a controller. I am not. 💋

  21. Well I would hope not because an Android tablet is a lot of money for it not to be more complex than the Wii U Gamepad. It should because it was designed for so much more than to be just a controller.

  22. Well..
    It’s a tablet-shaped controller; not a tablet.
    I really don’t see the surprise here…or why some think this is a trolling article.

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