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Nintendo's TVii 'to replace remote'

Nintendo is switching on a television service that transforms the tablet-like controller for its new Wii U game console into a remote that changes the channel on your TV and puts programmes from the internet just a few finger taps away.

The TVii service will be unveiled in the United States and Canada on Thursday, marking a delay from previous plans to have the service available when the game console went on sale in North America on November 18.

The aim of TVii is to bring order to the hundreds of channels on regular TV and the thousands of shows and movies available through apps from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus and Google's YouTube.

It is the first time a video game console maker has integrated live TV controls in a device. Nintendo's Wii U console has a unique controller - the GamePad - which is covered with joysticks and buttons and boasts a front-facing camera and 6.2-inch touch screen.

The GamePad also houses an infrared emitter that talks directly to your TV or set-top box. TVii scans what is available and offers you the option of watching a show, sports event or movie on live TV or through apps that connect to the Internet.

By the end of March, Nintendo says it will integrate TVii with TiVo so that it will be possible to program a TiVo digital video recorder through the game console as well.

Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, said: "This is a way to get every member of the household to pick up the GamePad hopefully every day. Hopefully this leads to a significant change in how consumers view and interact with their TV."

For years, home entertainment enthusiasts have had to grapple with a bunch of different controllers to work their televisions, set-top boxes, DVRs, disc players and game consoles. TVii has the potential to dispense with some of that hassle.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities said the TVii service puts Nintendo a step ahead of its competitors, but he expects Microsoft to close the gap next year with a next-generation Xbox that includes a TV tuner. Microsoft has yet to announced such a device.

Mr Pachter said: "It gives them a head start. I think they should be congratulated on making this a truly multimedia device. I don't think that advantage is going to last very long."

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