In a balanced and largely optimistic (long term) Wired piece on Nintendo's fortunes, Chris Kohler raises the question of a Wii U without the second-screen-cum-gamepad:
Purely based on where Nintendo is going with its software lineup, GamePad is becoming an optional accessory. All that’s left is to make it an optional purchase. If selling GamePad separately might allow Nintendo to reduce the price of Wii U to just under $200 (with a game pre-installed on the console for extra value, of course) it would look much more appealing next to the $400 PS4 and $500 Xbox One.
If it seems unlikely that a game console would climb down so dramatically and remove the one thing that it pitched as its defining feature, think again. It’s already happened twice this year: Microsoft’s preemptive reversal of all of its Xbox One DRM policies (and making Kinect optional) and Nintendo’s release of the 2DS, which removes the 3-D screen that gave 3DS its name in an effort to knock the price down even further.
Totally with this. As a casual-gamer that doesn't own any consoles I was looking at the cheaper Wii mini with interest until I saw just how much they'd crippled the display output quality. I've looked at the Wii U but was completely turned off by the complexity of the two-screen set up and the huge controller. If you'd offered me the option of having the Wii U with the Classic Wii controller I'd have gone for it.