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Nintendo Unveils Wii U As Sector Eyes Tablets

(c) Sky News 2012

Nintendo has officially unveiled its new Wii U gaming console as the video-gaming company and its rivals turn to multi-screen, tablet-style technology in an attempt to revive the industry.

The Japanese games-maker pledged to "revolutionise" family living rooms with its first follow-up to the hugely popular Wii in six years.

The new device, which will go on sale in time for Christmas, comes with two 'Game Pad' touch-screen controllers that interact with televisions and are designed to look and function like tablets.

Each 6.2in touchscreen controller will have a headphone jack, a camera in the front allowing for video chat, a microphone, motion gaming capabilities and trigger buttons on the back for shooter games.

The device will also include a social gaming network dubbed "Miiverse" and, for the first time in 16 years, come with a dedicated Super Mario game title.

The unveiling of the Nintendo's new games console came at this year's E3 entertainment conference in Los Angeles.

The world's biggest gaming tradeshow also saw Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT - news) announce an app called Xbox SmartGlass that will allow users to stream and share content across their TVs (Taiwan OTC: 8264.TWO - news) , tablets and smartphones using the Xbox 360, and Sony (Stuttgart: 853687 - news) reveal a second-screen function for the PlayStation Vita.

Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata said the Wii U was designed to appeal to families as well as traditional gamers, but he did not reveal how much it would cost.

The company hopes the new device will help its battle to reclaim its crown in an industry struggling to grow amid declining sales.

Nintendo has been knocked off its perch at the pinnacle of gaming hardware by Microsoft's Xbox in recent years.

Meanwhile, the traditional videogame market is fending off challenges from upstart game-makers and apps for mobile devices like Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) 's iPad, currently making massive in-roads into its territory.

Sony's move towards multi-screen technology saw it unveil plans to bolster use of its Vita hand held device with PlayStation 3 consoles by introducing front and back touch screens and giving different players different perspectives in the same game.

Sony, which recently posted its fifth consecutive annual loss, also announced a tie-up with author JK Rowling through a Harry Potter inspired book game called Wonderbook: Book of Spells.

Using its Move (NasdaqGS: MOVE - news) controller as a magic wand, gamers will wave the device in prescribed patterns as if they are a Hogwarts student on their way to becoming a witch or wizard, and learn how to cast spells that make fire, unlock gates and move through new stories written by the British novelist.