Reviews

PS5 Media Remote Review – Who Is This For?

If you have somehow managed to acquire a mythical Playstation 5, perhaps using occult rituals or something, then you might also be eyeing up some of the official Sony accessories to go with your sleek new console. The charging dock and the Pulse headset are the obvious choices, but something a bit less obvious is the official Playstation 5 Media Remote that promises the be the ultimate in media control! Er, well, actually, it just promises to let you, “Conveniently navigate entertainment on your PlayStation®5 console with intuitive media and TV controls.”  But is it actually any good at that? Let’s find out.

The remote is a sleek looking piece of kit built to match the PS5’s black and white colour scheme and its sweeping lines. It’s a bit light in the hand coming in at a few hundred grams and is fairly small, so it’s not the most luxury feeling item that Sony could have put out considering the £25 RRP, but it does look rather nice, although I’m not sure if the slight overhang on the bottom piece is a production mistake or meant to resemble the PS5’s side plates. For now, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was meant to look like that and wasn’t just the result of Sony not caring.

The remote takes two double-A batteries which get slotted into the slightly awkward compartment on the bottom of the device. To access this little bugger you need to use a fingernail to push in a little button which lets the cover pop off. I don’t know why Sony didn’t opt for a standard sliding cover because this method feels weirdly overdesigned.

In the hand the whole thing feels quite nice to hold. It fits neatly into the hand, the gentle curve of its bottom (stop snigger) settling into your palm. And as a bonus the rounded arse means the Media Remote can spin really well, in case like having something to do with your hands. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is truly a feature that makes the remote worth its £25 asking price. All the buttons have a slightly click when pressed and and feel great to press unlike the buttons on other remotes that can be rather squishy, like you’re gently prodding at a jellyfish.

Getting the Media Remote connected to the PS5 is a complete doddle; just turn on the console, head to settings and pick the option to setup the remote. Follow the instructions and Aunt Fanny is your uncle. If it doesn’t do it automatically then you might need to manually select your TV type and spend a few extra minutes fiddling around. There’s also the option to link the remote to your TV, which was my big reason for checking the remote out because the idea of using a single device for everything is very tempting. And that, my friends, is where the media remote fails. Sony had a chance to create a universal remote that could replace everything else, but they missed that chance.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of any way to swap inputs on the TV. I’m sure Sony would love to think that you’d never have anything other than a Playstation 5 under your TV, but if you’re like me you might have other things hooked up to the TV than you need to swap between and there’s currently no way to do that with the Media Remote. Want to swap over to your Xbox, Switch or Blu-ray player? Better dig out the TV remote again.

And while you can fully control your TV’s volume via the Media Remote, you can’t change channel or access any menus, so once again you need to grab the TV remote to do any that. But at least you can power on and power off your TV using the media remote, so that’s nice, I guess.

So as a universal remote that you can use for your TV as well, the Media Remote kind of sucks.

But even when used with the Playstation 5 itself the remote has some strange caveats, starting with the lack of sacred Playstation symbols. Launch the Now TV app, for example, and you need to press triangle to bring up the search bar, except there is no triangle button on the remote. Hmm. You do, however, have directional keys and a select button for scrolling through the various PS5 menus, and the PS button itself is located on the bottom end of the remote. An interesting little touch is that when you power on the Playstation using the PS button on the remote, it’ll automatically go the media tab rather than the game tab.

When it comes to playing movies, the remote is good but again shows some strange flaws. You have the standard play/pause and fast-forward buttons, although there’s no button for skipping chapters. There’s also no dedicated buttons for subtitles or bringing up the menu, either. I do, however, appreciate the fact that you can eject the disc in your console using two button pushes, so that’s quite nice. Now if only there was a power on/off button for the console itself.

It is, however, a bit weird that when you watch a 4k Blu-Ray or something the PS5’s button prompts are all for the controller. The console knows you’re using the remote, so it feels lazy that nobody bothered to change the on-screen buttons to match.

The bottom of the remote is home to four dedicated shortcut buttons for Netflix, Spotify, Disney + and Youtube. Press one and the PS5 will launch the app for you, which is quite nice. Of course, your usage of these will vary and they can’t be reprogrammed. Personally, I don’t use Disney+ or Spotify on my PS5, but I do use Amazon Prime and would loved to have been able to reprogram one of the spare buttons to fire up that app instead. Alas, you’re stuck with the four you get out of the box.

There’s also a microphone button at the top of the remote that does absolutely nothing. According to Sony, this feature is currently disabled but will become available in the future, although exactly when or even what the feature will be remains a complete mystery. Perhaps it’ll be used on conjunction with a camera for video calls. Hell, maybe the remote has a microphone built in. I haven’t asked it, yet.

Another issue actually has nothing to do with the remote as such, rather the problem lies in the Playstation 5’s lack of options when it comes to linking the console to your TV. Over on the Xbox there’s quite a few options for how the console will behave with the TV, letting you set things up so that your TV can power on the Xbox or the Xbox can power off your TV but can’t power it on and so on and so on. But the Playstation only lets you have it so the TV can power on and off the console, and the console can do the same to the TV. That’s it. So if you turn on HDMI linking, putting your PS5 into rest mode will turn off your TV even if just want to swap over to your Xbox or something. It limits how useful the remote can be, making it difficult to fine-tune your setup into a sleek unit.

Something to keep in mind is that a lot of TV remotes can actually directly control your Playstation 5, although it’s not a very well known fact. My Panasonic remote can scroll through the PS5 menus, fast-forward in movies etc. without a problem. I can even bring up the home menu, even if it did take me a while to figure out how. You may already be sitting on a media remote for your Playstation without even realising it.

Ultimately, the official Playstation 5 Media Remote is 100% okay. That’s it. Whether you should consider buying one depends on exactly what you do with your PS5. If you play a lot of movies or shows on it or perhaps listen to a lot of music the media remote might be worth picking up simply so that you don’t have to keep turning on the Dualsense controller (especially because some apps don’t like it if the controller powers off) and draining the battery. But if you mostly just play games there’s no reason to pick this up, and even less reason if you were hoping to use it as a universal remote, like I was.

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