PlayStation consoles have always done more than you would expect from a game system. Now with the PS3 and PS4, we can watch Blu-rays, Netflix, and more as well.
The DualShock 4 isn't exactly a TV/media remote, though. It's true, the DualShock 4 is more suited to gaming. A media remote is universal, it's something anyone can pick up and understand. Let's take a look at PDP's officially licensed solution to this little problem!
The Official PS4 Media Remote
A company known as PDP, or Performance Designed Products, has been tasked with manufacturing many of the first-party sanctioned products for the PS4. Anything with the iconic blue box like the controller dock for example, is made by PDP and officially licensed by Sony.
The remote is miles ahead of the competition in both design and performance. It looks a lot like the PS3 media remote, which is a very good thing (especially if you've seen some of the third party options on PS4 right now. Yikes!).
The PS4 Experts Hands-On Review
The Officially Licensed PS4 Media Remote came in the mail for me, and now that I've had some time to utilize it, it's time to find out if this Sony-approved third-party solution is the best option for those of you out there that are tired of wasting battery power on your DualShock 4 while watching a movie or TV show.
For starters, the packaging is very simple. It comes in the iconic blue box that all of the Sony-approved accessories come in. Like many of those others, the remote isn't made by Sony. Instead it was developed by PDP and given the seal of approval by the big guys and gals at PlayStation
Taking it out of the box, you get an instruction manual, and the remote. That's about it, no batteries included. It uses two AAA-batteries, which I was forced to steal from one of my other remotes. When it comes to accessories like a remote, I feel like it's common courtesy to provide batteries, especially if they're uncommon ones. AA's I can forgive because those are everywhere, but AAA's? Come on!
Pairing The PS4 Media Remote
Anyway, I popped in the batteries and went to work programming the remote for my PS4. You'll need to connect a controller and navigate to the Devices ---> Bluetooth Devices section of the settings menu.
Once you're there you press the PlayStation button on the remote to wake it up. From there, hold down the PlayStation button and the Share button on the remote until the red light in the top right corner of the remote starts to flash.
When that happens, hold the remote close to the PS4. I'm going to mention this more than once, but I'll start here: the instruction manual has multiple typos! The first one states that the PS4 will register the device as a "PDP Universal Media Remote." Not for me, instead I saw a remote icon and a blank name appear. When I selected it with the controller to sync the device, then it read as a remote, but not prior to that.
Once that's finished, the remote is paired.
Useful For Almost Everything!
You can now navigate the PS4 with the remote (no DualShock 4 required!) You can go through all the menus, utilize the share and options buttons, and turn the system off by navigating to the power menu (I couldn't get it to turn off with the power button on the remote).
To turn the system back on with the remote and not a controller, make sure you hit the "PS4" function button, then press the PlayStation button. You'll notice that the remote also has buttons for "TV," "Amp," "and CBL." Besides controlling your PS4, the remote can also be used to turn your TV on and off, and control a cable box or sound system.
I personally have a Samsung Smart TV, and a Samsung sound bar/sub woofer setup. It's alright, you can be jealous. Syncing the remote to my TV was really difficult for one very annoying reason: there are typos in the instruction manual! I was told that the auto-sync feature required the device to be on. No matter how many times I tried to do it, I couldn't get the remote to sync to the sound bar or the TV.
Turns out, the actual process involves turning the device OFF, and then following the instructions to sync the remote to it. This worked perfectly for my TV, but I wasn't able to get the sound bar synced. Not sure if it was user error, or if I need to manually enter the code, but I did find a cool workaround.
There are four colored "soft keys" on the remote that can be used to assign specific functions. By using the PS4 Media Remote in conjunction with another remote, you can program these colored buttons to do specific things on your devices. I used this process to make the red button bring up the smart hub on my TV. Since I couldn't get the sound bar to sync, I used the yellow and blue buttons to program the volume up and down function on the sound bar.
In the end, I was able to go from two remotes and a controller, to one remote and no controller. It took a little trial and error, but I'm happy with the setup because now I only have one remote to keep track of.
There is one other feature advertised in the manual, and PDP has already confirmed that there is yet another typo in the instruction manual that describes the "Volume Punch Through" as having the ability to program the remotes volume to control something besides your TV, despite the device being used.
This is wrong, the Punch Through feature only works for the TV itself. If you don't have a sound system, this feature will allow you to have the remote set to the PS4, while also being able to adjust the volume on your TV. You won't need to hit the TV button to change volume, hence the term "Punch Through."
I would have loved to use this feature, but with my sound bar. Unfortunately, despite what the manual says, that's not the case. All of the buttons work really well on the PS4 for Blu-Rays and Netflix. When using other devices, certain buttons won't work. In other words, the Share button will do squat when you're controlling your TV. Other, less obvious buttons, won't work either. This isn't really a surprise, it comes with the territory when using a universal remote, but it's worth mentioning.
Functionality With Video Apps
Beyond using blu-rays, media files, and Netflix, the remote does indeed work on apps like YouTube, Hulu, and Crackle, but with a catch. The buttons don't do what you would expect them to. This is less of an oversight on the remote's part, and more of an issue with the apps themselves. They would need to be updated to support this new remote before it would work properly.
Something like Netflix is used to working with remotes, but YouTube, Hulu, and Crackle are new to the console world. If you're buying this to use solely for those apps, you may want to reconsider, just a fair warning. I also tried playing games with it, but it won't let you launch a game. Instead it asks you connect a DualShock 4.
In terms of the remote itself, it's very lightweight. It doesn't feel cheap at all, but it's lighter than I expected. The remote itself is also very skinny, with extremely small buttons compared to my other remotes. This made it difficult to hit buttons during the programming process. There's also no lights on the buttons like many remotes, so jumping between PS4, TV, and your sound system could be difficult in the dark.
Taking all of this into account, let's break it down for a final verdict, shall we?
Should You Buy This Remote?
The reviews for this remote on Amazon are mixed right now, and I can see why. The typos in the instruction manual really hamper the user experience. The lack of batteries out of the box is also yet another obstacle between you and your remote. If they could have included batteries and proofread the manual, there would be far less frustration with the setup.
The options out there prior to the release of this PS4 Media Remote were atrocious. Some required you to take up a USB port, while others had bare minimum features. For those who wanted to just use a normal remote for their viewing experiences, the options were unacceptable.
Now, we have an officially licensed remote, finally! It's not perfect, the biggest problems come from an instructional manual riddled with typos, and a lack of batteries in the box.
Once it's working, the remote works as advertised. Your experience may vary when it comes to syncing a TV, cable box, or sound system to it. I found it to be fairly easy once I realized the manual had it backwards (it says the device should be on, then on again...).
Growing pains aside, once the remote is hooked up, it responds beautifully and lets you do just about anything you want on the PS4 involving blu-rays, media files, or Netflix. Anything beyond that, and you're going to run into issues (at least until an update hits the other apps, if it does at all).
If you follow the instructions as modified by myself in the above review, and you're not looking to do anything more than blu-rays and Netflix, you'll find that this is the solution you've been waiting for. You may have trouble getting it to control other devices, but for the PS4, it works like a charm.
At $29.99, it's not a bad price. You need to go in with the right expectations though. Don't expect the perfect device with an easy setup. Expect to hit a few speed bumps (and track down some batteries) before you're ready to collapse on the couch and watch a movie, sans the light bar from a DualShock 4.
Here's a final breakdown of the Pros and Cons:
- Easy setup
- Great functionality with most apps and Blu-rays
- Works with TVs, PS4, Sound Systems, and Amps
- Reasonable price point
- Some app support is shaky (Crackle, Hulu)
- Typos in the instruction manual
- No backlight
- No included batteries (AAA needed)
For more information (including a detailed breakdown of the features) continue reading!
Features and Functionality
For starters, this remote is not just for the PS4. It is a universal remote that can control up to four devices:
- The PS4
- Your Television
- A set-top box
- An audio receiver
All of these options are visible in the buttons displayed below:
On top of this, the remote also has control over the PS4's power. It even has control over the PlayStation, Options, and Share buttons. This means you have the full functionality of the PS4 at your fingertips without the need for a DualShock 4 at all. Imagine this: you can turn on your TV, sound system, and PS4 with one remote. Then, you can watch all of your content with that same remote, and turn all those devices off when you're finished.
Never once in that scenario do you turn on or drain the battery on your DualShock 4. That's incredible! Take a look at the PS4 specific buttons in the screenshot below:
Beyond playing your DVDs, Blu-rays, and streaming apps, the PS4 also supports a wide range of media files via the recently added "Media Player App."
Compatible File Types
The PS4 Media Remote can be used to control playback of various media files via this app, which include the following formats:
To access the app, just look for this icon on your PS4 menu:
As long as you have the latest PS4 firmware update (it won't let you sign on to PSN without it) then you should see this icon on your main menu. Using this, you can plug in an external flash drive and playback any video files in the formats above, and control them with your media remote.
Tips For Maximum Efficiency
If you're thinking about purchasing one of these awesome remotes, or you have one and you'd like to know how to best utilize it, here are some tips you may not know:
1. Soft Buttons as Inputs
The soft buttons can programmed to control any of your devices, not just your PS4. Following our guide above, you could use them to control your TVs HDMI inputs. Now switching between devices is even easier!
2. PlayStation Vue Features
If you're a Vue subscriber, the PS4 media remote has some hidden features for this app specifically. For starters, the colored buttons each offer a shortcut to areas of the app.
Yellow brings up the search function, blue goes to the "All Shows Menu," red allows you to add the show you're watching to "My Shows" and green takes you to the My Shows Menu.
3. Don't Bother With The DualShock
The PS4 media remote can do just about everything. You can even turn on your PS4 and turn it off. This means that, unless you're playing a game, you don't need to turn on a controller at all. Save the battery for when you need to save the universe, or destroy some fellow players online.
If you're itching to own in your copy of this PS4 media remote, they are currently Available at Amazon.
Tell us what you think about the remote in the comments below and let us know if you'll be picking one up too!
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 10/5/15