It’s all too simple to miss the standard of the distant management when selecting a streaming system, as I’ve written before.
You may not understand it from the worth tag, as an illustration, however the $180 Apple TV 4K has one of many worst remotes available on the market. The slim design too simply slips between sofa cushions, and its trackpad-based controls have a steep studying curve. Conversely, the $29 Roku Express looks like an awesome worth till you understand that its distant lacks basic TV controls.
What’s a cord-cutter to do, then? If you’re caught with a nasty distant, take into account a third-party alternative as a substitute of shopping for a completely new streaming system. Here are a pair choices I’ve provide you with:
Third-party IR remotes for Apple TV and Roku
My impetus for this little experiment was One For All’s URC 795 common streamer distant. Just a few weeks in the past, I noticed it on sale for $15 at Best Buy, down from the common $25, so I made a decision to see how it could work as a alternative distant for Apple TV and Roku gamers. (At the time this story was edited, Walmart was selling a version of the URC 795 for $17, and eBay has open box ones for even less.)
What drew me to the One for All distant was its design, which seems prefer it’s meant for streaming as a substitute of cable. The format of the directional pad and navigation buttons are just like that of a Roku distant, and there are not any quantity keys or different pointless cable distant litter.
Out of the field, the distant works with any Roku participant that helps infrared enter. Those embrace the high-end Roku Ultra and the finances Roku Express and Premiere fashions, however not the Roku Streaming Stick or Stick+. It also can management energy, quantity, and inputs on Samsung TVs by default.
To use the One for All distant with different gadgets, you must enter particular button combos as outlined within the instruction handbook. Pairing an Apple TV, as an illustration, requires holding down the streamer energy button and residential button, then letting go and holding down the TV energy button. It’s a clunky course of, however the upside is which you can program a streaming field, TV, and A/V gear to work concurrently. That means you may consolidate remotes with out having to fiddle with HDMI-CEC.
With setup out of the way in which, I used to be impressed with the distant total. While infrared is inherently much less responsive than the Bluetooth connections utilized by most streaming remotes, I didn’t have any points controlling my Apple TV 4K, even outdoors my house workplace from 20 ft away. The rubberized buttons really feel snappy, and in contrast to with most streaming remotes, they’re backlit.
The One for All distant’s most important draw back is that it doesn’t assist voice management. For that, you’ll want to achieve for the common Apple TV or Roku distant. (You also can use the Roku remote app or the Apple TV distant operate constructed into iOS.)
Still, the distant’s different options make up for lacking voice management. It has devoted buttons for mute, enter management, and channel switching. (The latter two come in useful if you happen to’re utilizing an antenna.) It additionally has Roku-compatible shortcut buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube. The model Walmart sells substitutes Vudu for the Amazon shortcut (Walmart owned Vudu till its recent sale to Fandango).
While Roku’s personal remotes include shortcut keys as properly, these are sponsored placements which you can’t modify. By distinction, you may program the One for All distant’s shortcut keys with macros that string a sequence of button presses collectively. These macros even work with Apple TV, so I programmed each to return to the house display screen, then launch numerous apps.
Nvidia Shield TV with a Fire TV distant
I hoped the One for All distant would additionally work with the 2017 Nvidia Shield TV in our front room. The touch-sensitive quantity management strip on the Shield’s distant is a continuing supply of frustration for my spouse and I—together with anybody who’s visiting—and as with the Apple TV distant, its slim design is just too simply misplaced. (The 2019 Nvidia Shield TV distant is, fortunately, much better.)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the pairing to work, despite the fact that One for All lists Nvidia assist in its product listings and handbook. That’s after I remembered hearing rumblings about how the Shield TV works with Amazon’s Fire TV remotes. With a few Fire TV Stick 4K gadgets available right here, I made a decision to test the combo out myself.
To pair a Fire TV distant with the Shield, you could go to Settings > Remotes & Accessories > Add Bluetooth equipment, then maintain the Fire TV distant’s house button for about 10 seconds till a lightweight begins blinking quickly on the prime. At that time, a brand new system ought to seem within the Shield’s pairing menu, and you should utilize an present Shield distant to pick it.
Again, the pairing course of may have been smoother—I had to do this a couple of occasions earlier than it labored—however the Fire TV distant has labored flawlessly with the Nvidia Shield TV ever since. Because Amazon’s Fire TV working system is predicated on Android, the Shield acknowledged all of the distant’s buttons with out difficulty.
While some customers have reported issues prior to now with waking the Shield or utilizing voice instructions, I skilled no points with both, and was pleasantly shocked to see the Fire TV distant’s Alexa button carry up Google Assistant on the Shield. Best of all, the Shield helps reprogramming the Fire TV distant’s menu button, similar to the menu button on the 2019 Shield TV distant. I’m utilizing it to launch the Reelgood beta app for Android TV, which features as a common information for streaming providers.
It’s value noting which you can buy the 2019 Shield TV remote as a standalone improve for older fashions, and at $30. It prices the identical as Amazon’s Fire TV remote. It’s not fairly as comfy to make use of, but it surely does have backlighting.
Still, the Fire TV distant is often on sale for much less, and you may typically get a complete Fire TV Stick or Fire TV Stick 4K for a lower cost than the distant by itself. (As I write this, a number of eBay distributors are selling the Fire TV Stick 4K for $20 or less.) If you want a streamer for a spare TV, you might probably use the Fire TV with Amazon’s free iOS or Android distant app, then pair the distant together with your Shield. That’s precisely what I’m doing proper now.
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