Last month, we reported that Nintendo would be releasing a special DVD-enabled Wii console in Japan some time during 2007. Today, digital media software company Sonic Solutions further stirred the pot by sending out a release indicating that Nintendo has selected "Sonic CinePlayer CE DVD Navigator to bring high-quality DVD movie viewing to a future version of the company's Wii gaming console."

According to the release, Nintendo plans to launch this version of Wii some time in the latter half of 2007. What wasn't clear, however, was if this announcement had been confirmed by Nintendo, and if the DVD-enabled Wii would be released outside of Japan. That said, GameDaily BIZ has now received confirmation from Nintendo that the release in the latter half of 2007 is for North America as well.

Nintendo of America's Public Relations Manager Matt Atwood said that a price has not yet been determined, but that the DVD-enabled Wii would come at a higher price than the standard Wii console ($249) because of the "extra cost required to implement DVD playback." Keep in mind that Nintendo had originally announced the Wii with DVD playback, but later removed the feature because of cost and because most people have separate DVD players nowadays anyway.

We asked Nintendo if gamers who purchase the Wii at launch might be able to upgrade their consoles through a firmware update via the WiiConnect network, and while Atwood told us that it is a software solution, it "requires more than a firmware upgrade."

We find it curious that Nintendo is sort of splitting the market by offering one model without DVD playback and then later one with DVD functionality enabled, but Atwood asserted that that's why Nintendo is getting the word out there now, prior to launch. If DVD movie playback is so important, people can wait for the later model next year. For most consumers it'll be about the games, so they'll likely not want to wait to purchase the new system.

Consumers waiting until the second half of 2007 for the DVD-enabled Wii should know that Sonic's software "supports all standard video and audio formats offered in the DVD specification, as well as advanced functions such as anamorphic widescreen video, motion menus, and multiple video angles."

"To be involved in Nintendo's ground-breaking gaming console is extremely gratifying and a testament to the efficiency, flexibility and dependability of Sonic's technology," commented Jim Taylor, senior vice president and general manager of Sonic's Advanced Technology Group. "Game consoles represent a fresh market and platform where we can introduce a new audience of potentially millions to the quality of our brand and the power of our digital media applications."