Nintendo Wii owners who wanted to browse the Web from their consoles have previously been forced to purchase the Wii Internet Channel application from the Wii Shop Channel for 500 Wii Points (that's $5.00 to the rest of us). Nintendo has now made the app free for all Wii users, saying, "Effective immediately, people who want to browse the Internet using their Wii consoles will be able to do so at no added cost."
The Wii browser, based on Opera, was previously available as a free download to early adopters who installed it between April and June of 2007.
If you've already shelled out 500 Wii points for the Internet Channel, Nintendo is offering a make-good in the form of a free game download, but you'll have to wait until October to collect.
Nintendo says in a press release: "Starting at the end of October, consumers who have previously exchanged 500 Wii Points to download the Internet Channel will be able to download, at no cost, one NES game of their choice valued at 500 Wii Points from Virtual Console."
While all three major living room consoles offer online features, only the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii have traditional Web browsers. With this price cut, both systems now offer free Web browsing software. However, some of the most compelling reasons to use a game console Web browser -- streaming Hulu and Netflix videos -- don't currently work out-of-the-box, but workarounds such as PlayOn are available for those who don't mind doing some extra set-up work.
Update: Also new to the Internet Channel is Adobe Flash Lite 3.1. We'll download the update and test it on some video streaming sites, but expect it to work with YouTube videos, not Hulu or Netflix.