The controller is dominated, of course, by that 6.2-inch touch screen. It's a very high-quality display with a beautiful picture. The HD Zelda demo looked identical on this screen and on the TVs in the demo suite. It's clear that playing HD Wii U games on this controller, away from the TV, will be a fully satisfying experience. It has small speakers, but you'll probably prefer to use the headphone jack for audio. A camera points towards you on the unit's face and can be used for voice chat. Start, select and home buttons, a recessed sync button on the back and a power supply port complete its simple layout.
The idea of continuing your gaming uninterrupted in bed, at the kitchen table, in the garden or while the other half watches X-Factor or the football is hugely appealing, of course. And Nintendo had plenty of other possibilities to present at its press conference.
The five demos available to play at E3 really only seem to scratch the surface.
Of the bunch, the HD Experience is the only concession to graphics whores and Nintendo fanboys. The demonstrator was very keen to stress that it was a tech demo of what an HD Zelda game with a Twilight Princess art style might look like, rather than a game in development.
A movie of Link fighting a giant spider boss in a cathedral runs in real-time on the Wii U hardware, and touch-screen controls allow you to change the lighting between day and night, switch camera angles and move the display from the TV to the controller and back.
It's undeniably beautiful, although you can attribute this in part to Nintendo's exquisitely hand-crafted art assets. The lighting is excellent, with many changing sources and a few particle effects in evidence - but my untrained eyes saw nothing here that an Xbox 360 or PS3 couldn't do. Perhaps Digital Foundry will say different.
The most fully-realised game is New Super Mario Bros. Mii, with five levels of fun co-op platforming for four players available. It's hard to figure the point of this demo - the gameplay seemed identical to the Wii game, and as with all the other demos, only one player could play on the Wii U controller, with everyone else using Wii remotes. At least that player could choose whether to watch the TV or the screen in their hands.
Shield Pose is a rhythm-action posing mini-game in which you need to move the Wii U controller to protect yourself from arrows incoming from a ghost pirate ship in time to music. It's not really essential to watch the controller screen for this game, but thanks to the gryoscopes it gives an accurate viewpoint at all times.
It's fun, it gets you used to the idea of the controller as an extension of yourself as well as an input device, and the sensation of having a second window into the game world in your hands is remarkable - in a way, it's much more involving than 3D. Will Wii U be able to push out two viewpoints in more graphically rich games, though?