High-definition Wii refresh coming ‘by 2011’

Nintendo’s Wii console has many perks: a fun, intuitive control scheme, an affordable price tag, and the ability to play old-school Nintendo games. You can’t praise the Wii for its graphics horsepower, though, since its hardware has more in common with the old Nintendo GameCube than current-gen systems like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

According to a report by What They Play, Nintendo may not disappoint eye-candy lovers with its next effort. The site claims to have heard from multiple sources that Nintendo is "showing early presentations" of a next-generation console that will show up "by 2011." This console "is said to be the true ‘next generation’ Nintendo console, and far more than a simple refresh of the current hardware."

Supposedly, the presentation refers to this console as the "Wii HD" and says it will conserve the Wii’s key elements while giving the internal hardware a much-needed upgrade. The Wii HD will naturally produce high-definition graphics, and What They Play says Nintendo will put "a greater emphasis on digitally distributed and backwardly compatible content." Nintendo could therefore extend its partnership with AMD and IBM to make sure the next-gen console can play today’s games.

The 2011 time frame does fit with the typical five-year console life cycle, so this could all be guesswork. What They Play points out that Nintendo’s yearly R&D spending tripled between 2006 and 2007, however, suggesting that Nintendo may indeed be working on something big. (Thanks to Engadget for the tip.)

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