Using the Wii U as a media center

A picture of the Wii U gamepad playing a video on the TV

After I forgot to disable updates on Raspbmc and got sick of the loading bar getting between me and my dinner entertainment, I tried something on a whim. Turns out, the Wii U internet browser handles mp4 files pretty dang well. Here's the basic premise:

The Wii U browser can be shown only on the gamepad, or mirrored onto the TV screen. When an MP4 file is loaded, the gamepad keeps the current page open, but adds a playback bar onto the top and plays just the mp4 onto the TV screen. This turns the gamepad into a tablet remote for a big screen video player. Perfect.

Based on this premise, I had Ivey hack together some quick code for a browser for our RPi-based NAS, and with about an hour's worth of work, we have a complete replacement for the old Raspbmc system that is much more stable, and has the nice advantage of consolidating the number of devices in use.

For people who don't want to hack together their own solution, a quick search reveals that Plex media servers can be accessed from the browser, which yields the same results for those with a PMS running. A simple web based NAS browser would work just as well.

The one disadvantage I can see is there appears to be a bit of compression at the beginning of each video file, but this clears up after a few seconds and the quality looks about the same as the RPi solution, save maybe a little degradation here and there. I'm not a quality-phile, so I don't mind it.

Happy hacking!