I Need a Wii…

According to Nintendo, the name of their family games console expresses their direction to break down the wall that separates video game players from everybody else, puts people more in touch with their games, and with each other. The two letter "i"s emphasize both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play, and the pronunciation "we" emphasizes that this console is for everyone. But I think they only called it this so people in England could make up silly jokes.

Anyway, having got past the obvious hilarity when my wife told me the other week that she "really, really, really wanted a wii", we've taken the plunge and acquired our first games console. She managed to convince me that it would make us both fit as we while away the evenings playing tennis and ten-pin bowling, contour our upper-body through regular boxing exercise, and master relaxation by standing on one leg on an electronic wobble-board. I can't say I was totally convinced, but—at my stage of middle age and corresponding spread—anything is worth a try.

Of course, there's pretty much no way it will connect up with our aging TV that's driven by Media Center, or any more room (or sockets) in the lounge. And it seems we need to replace the TV in the office upstairs because it doesn't work with the aerial in the attic now they've built more houses behind us, and it only gets five channels anyway. Besides, how would I watch the educational programs I enjoy, such as racing anything with wheels or any of the myriad Poirot repeats, while my wife is electronically toning her body and mind?

Ah, but have you tried to buy a stand for a TV that's more than three feet high lately? If you're going to be posing on a wobble-board and leaping around playing badminton, you probably want the TV positioned a bit higher than that. Yes, you can spend four hundred pounds (or six hundred dollars) buying a fancy wall mounted arrangement to hold the TV if, like me, you have a flimsy plasterboard wall to mount it on, but that seems a bit steep; so my wife helpfully suggested I build a nice shelf unit to hold everything. And in a nice wood that matches the rest of the furniture.

So, after wandering around the Bank Holiday sales at a selection of electronic retailers and DIY stores, we came home with a new flat screen TV package (complete with the incredible assortment of paraphernalia that seems to be standard with these things), a Wii everything, and a truck full of timber and ironmongery. Last time I bought a TV, you only had to plug it into an aerial and an electric socket and it all just worked. This time, it's taken me three days to get to the point where we can watch a DVD, and I've still got to figure out how on earth the twenty or so incomprehensible components of a Wii fit together (I haven't worked out yet how get the back off the controllers to put the batteries in). And I reckon I got my month's exercise just building the wall frame and assembling everything.

It seems that nobody has just "a TV" any more. Now you have to have a "Home Cinema System". In fact, the box that it came in was bigger than the TV. Do I really need "five plus one" speakers just to hear Louise Redknapp telling me how to stand on one leg on my wobble-board? OK, so the office already looks like a power station with all the wires my computers and the associated junk require, so a couple of furlongs of extra speaker cable will probably meld in quite well. Maybe I should copy the setup a friend has—two big sofas arranged on platforms like in a cinema with the bass woofer underneath them. Makes you really appreciate films with lots of explosions.

And it shows how out of touch I am with this brave new world of entertainment technology when I discovered that I needed an optical audio cable (obviously wire is old-fashioned now) to connect the bits together. Worse still, I struggled for ages trying to plug it in until I finally discovered that you have to remove the squidgy clear plastic protector caps from the ends first. Well it didn't say anything about that on the packet, and the instruction books for the rest of the kit just contain vague pictures that might apply to any of a selection of products from the manufacturer's range.

Still, at least we got there in the end. OK, so I ended up having to repaint the wall and relay the carpet afterwards, but—as my wife likes to point out—jobs I tackle never seem to be as easy as it says on the box. All we need to do now is get the TV hooked up to some receiving hardware on the roof so as it actually works. As the TV has a satellite decoder built in, we might as well go that way so I talked to somebody who is brave enough to climb a tall ladder and knows where to point the dish.

It seems, however, that (according to my brave ladder-climbing man) satellite signals are "very sensitive to trees". Ah, I thought, obviously they have to comply with some government environmental directive, or exhibit corporate "green" credentials. In fact, he tells me, it means that we won't get a signal if there are any tall trees nearby. And there was me thinking that the dish pointed up into the sky. I live in the countryside, where there are lots of tall trees, so I'm still awaiting with baited breath to see if we're in what he calls a "reception-capable area".

Mind you, when we turned the TV on the first time, it asked for our full postal code so it could ensure that we received "programs optimized for our viewing area". Maybe there is a satellite up there that just transmits programs suitable for our small patch of Derbyshire. Lots of documentaries about sheep and coal-mining, perhaps...

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