The original Xbox 360 launched with a media remote, so it was surprising to say the least that Microsoft decided not to release a Media remote alongside the Xbox One. I found this to be an odd decision due to the fact that Microsoft had hedged their bets on TV and multimedia at their original Xbox One reveal. 3 months down the track and Microsoft are finally releasing their own Media Remote. Sure, the Kinect 2.0 works well to pause and play your Blurays but not everyone likes yelling at their TV every time they want to make an action.
Upon receiving your Xbox One Media Remote, you’ll notice that the packaging is in-line with the branding of all other Xbox One accessories. In the box you’ll receive the remote, two AAA batteries, a booklet detailing what each button does and your standard warranty documentation.
The Xbox One Media Remote is a little less featured than the one that launched with the original Xbox. Microsoft have opted for a much sleeker design which in my opinion works better. It’s a lot smaller and nicer to hold than the original white remote. it has a wonderful silicon, matte finish that makes it an absolute joy to pick up and play around with. The remote has a gyroscopic sensor that allows it to turn on the backlight from the moment that it’s picked up. This was easily my favourite design feature of the remote. It really looks spectacular once it’s all lit up. Alternatively, pushing a button will light up the controller.
The only negative that I could find with the remotes design is the fact that it is an absolute dust magnet. Also, the buttons will annoy some people are essentially they are at 3 different heights. Majority of the buttons have an elevated position, the direction buttons are depressed into the remote and then the mute button is flush with the remotes surface. It didn’t bother me as I believe it was done so you could locate the buttons that you needed to without looking.
The downside to this sleek and small design is that quite a few buttons are missing. The firsthing that you’ll notice is that there are no numbered buttons. This is quite a glaring omission considering Microsoft want you to be able to use this with your set-top box, which should be plugged into your Xbox One if you’re doing things right. Also missing are the Xbox One face buttons. Now this might not sound like a big deal however this was important on the original controller as some apps just weren’t compatible with the Media Remote buttons. This is the case with the YouTube app as it does not work at all with the remote. If the face buttons were there, then this would provide a workaround and make all apps compatible out of the box. It wasn’t really an issue for any other app though so I suspect it will just be a matter of apps making sure that they’re updated.
The Xbox One can be turned on with the remote through the IR receiver at the front of the console. I really enjoyed using the remote for exploring the UI to see what my friends were upto or just checking out a Twitch stream. Obviously it works extremely well for pausing, playing or stopping a Bluray or any other multimedia application. Microsoft have thankfully also included the One Guide button on their Media Remote so this sort’ve makes up for the fact that there are no numbered buttons. The remote can also change channels and mute or change volume. This will only occur if you have the Kinect plugged in as it requires the Kinect’s IR blaster.
The Xbox One Media Remote will released on March 13th for $29.95AUD. I’d really suggest it for those who use their Xbox One for a lot of media watching. I much preferred keeping the remote close to me when watching a movie than having my controller awkwardly near me or have to shout out mid movie at the Kinect. I also found it useful for general browsing of the Xbox One UI when I knew I necessarily wasn’t going to play a game.