8BitDo’s Xbox media remotes are cute and cheap
For some reason, Microsoft doesn’t make a media remote for its Xbox Series consoles. There was a first-party option for the Xbox One, which should work well enough with the S and X (as most Xbox One accessories do), but it appears to have been discontinued. Perhaps it’s a casualty of Microsoft’s more recent focus on gaming over TV and entertainment.
Anyway, here’s renowned controller maker 8BitDo with a couple of officially licensed remotes designed for the new Series consoles. I’ve been using them with my Series X and One X, and I’ve found they do a good job at an affordable price, as long as they’ll work with your setup.
There are two versions of the Media Remote for Xbox, as 8BitDo calls it: a $24.99 “Long Edition” black model with a numpad, and a $19.99 white “Short Edition” without. Both have a compact, comfy soapbar-style design with responsive, clicky buttons, including all the ones you’d use to navigate the Xbox interface with a game controller. They each run off two included AAA batteries.
I’m not really sure why you’d want the numpad on the longer black version, unless you’re still living Microsoft’s original dream of the Xbox One as an all-in-one TV hub. It does have a few extra buttons for features like closed captioning, but that won’t do anything for you if you’re mainly planning on using it for streaming apps like Netflix. Still, the option is there if you want it.
I prefer the white version myself in use — it’s easy to reach all the buttons without moving your thumb around. But I’d favor this size in black, both to match the Xbox aesthetic and to stand out less in a dimmed living room. In a nice touch, both models have backlit buttons that activate when you pick up the remote and turn off after a few seconds, so they’re equally usable in darker situations.
The remotes use infrared, which has its pros and cons. They require line of sight to the Xbox console, which wasn’t a problem with the One X in my living room but did cause issues with my Series X, since it’s placed out of sight. Given the Series X’s chunky vertical design, some owners may not have been able to place it within plain sight of their couch, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Using infrared, however, does have the advantage of requiring no pairing or setup. I could use both remote models with both of my Xbox consoles right away. And I know better than to promise that HDMI-CEC will work reliably for your particular setup, but at least for me, it has. I can turn my TV and consoles on with the Xbox button on the remote, as well as adjust the TV’s volume.
If your Xbox is your primary streaming device and you’re okay with IR, I think it’s worth picking up one of 8BitDo’s Media Remotes. Like most of the company’s products, these are well-designed little gadgets that make using your console more enjoyable.