Another option is using an altogether separate interface in which favorite channels and other controls are displayed graphically on a semi-circular wheel. It looks strange, and I wouldn't recommend it.
Anyone who is frustrated by the jumble of cables and boxes that now surround TVs will see TVii's appeal. My wife said she liked the ease of holding and touching the controller, rather than fiddling with the button-laden remote. One downside I can see with TVii is that you have to keep looking down to figure out what to watch. And you have to plug it in frequently, as the GamePad controller will die out after three to five hours of use.
TVii also offers a standard channel guide in which you can scroll up and down for programs on different channels or right and left for different times of day. A touch will change the channel to the program, which is nice.
For certain shows and sporting events, TVii will supply a running list of key events called "TV tags." These descriptions of events, like the precise moment when Mindy's Christmas party descends into chaos, are displayed on the GamePad's screen, along with a screenshot. Tapping on one opens up a comment window, and an onscreen keyboard allows you to make a comment. For sports, you get a description of each play, such as the number of yards thrown in a pass, beside a graphic that gets updated.
Not many people have Wii U consoles yet, nor is everyone tuned to TVii. As a result, I found myself with only one or two commenters to share my thoughts with.
If you've connected TVii to Facebook and Twitter (again, some sign-up is involved), your comments will go out to your friends and followers, but the TV tag that you are commenting on won't show up, so they might not know what you're talking about. TVii adds the hashtag "NintendoTVii" to help readers take a guess.
In the end, TVii isn't perfect.
It isn't yet able to program your digital video recorder, although it will do so for TiVo DVRs by March. Sports are limited to pro and college basketball and football, and there's no integration with fantasy sports leagues. And the battery life of the GamePad is short.
A review unit I was sent failed to take a charge and had to be replaced, although I haven't found others who have had the same problem.
These irritations aside, Nintendo has given us a way to control the clutter of channels, apps and devices crowding around the TV. It's relatively easy and intuitive and some updates are on the way. Considering the garble of the TV universe, that's pretty good.
TVii turns the GamePad controller for the Wii U into a remote control that integrates your live TV and Internet video experience. The service is free, but you'll need a Wii U game console, which starts at $300. You'll also need to pay extra to use video services such as Hulu Plus, Amazon and Netflix.