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The thing I missed most about my PS3 was its perfect Blu-ray remote. When I upgraded to the PS4 last year, I was disappointed that it wasn’t compatible, and so I waited for Sony to release another exemplary first-party equivalent.
That never happened.
Instead, we received an official, licensed peripheral from PDP, the PlayStation 4 Universal Media Remote. Sadly, its Amazon rating was less than stellar.
Still, knowing that my professional contacts within PDP are always willing to let me take a gander at their tech in exchange for an honest review, not to mention how impressed I’ve been with their console solutions in the past, I figured it was worth a shot. That said, I’ve been using my Universal Media Remote for a couple of weeks now, and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
This device looks, at first blush, like any other multi-device remote. Thin and black with a nice textured underside, it features dedicated power buttons (one for the TV and the other multipurpose), device selectors, a number pad, guide and menu buttons, and the requisite play, volume, and channel controls. What makes it different, however, is that, in addition to traditional IR functionality, this remote can control your PS4 via Bluetooth. To that end, it also boasts a central PlayStation Home button as well as a row of the appropriate Action button controls–Sony’s iconic X, Circle, Triangle, and Square.
Pairing to the PS4 is a snap, and other devices like your cable box, TV, and amplifier can be paired using the traditional code search method. My main concern was whether or not it would work with my off-brand television, but I had the remote up and running within minutes.
The PlayStation 4 Universal Media Remote supports volume punch-through (so you don’t have to worry about switching functions just to turn the sound up) as well as a row of colored learning buttons (“soft keys”) for programming specialty functions not necessarily supported by all remotes.
Obviously, DVD and Blu-ray playback works like a charm, but I was warned early on that app control functionality differed wildly from provider to provider.
Despite a little apprehension, I quickly found that most of my content controlled just fine. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video both performed admirably, with things like play, pause, advance, and rewind controlling well with the traditional buttons and navigation (using a mix of the four-directional pad and Action buttons) was also a breeze. HBO Go–which I’ve long regarded as the Cadillac of PS streaming apps–managed to work flawlessly both with common play controls and the specialty Action button commands, allowing for precision playback and flawless navigation. Even PlayStation’s own Media Player, which I use to stream content from a network-attached drive, behaved admirably; a little clunkier than the competition, perhaps, but it still worked properly.
Hulu Plus, on the other hand, never quite seemed to jive.
I was able to browse and select programming using the navigation buttons, but once I started a show I had a hell of a time getting it to stop! Eventually, I realized that, at least within Hulu, you’re pretty much limited to that directional array–four directional buttons centered around “Enter.” I’ve trained myself to use Enter to toggle between play and pause and the up button as a shortcut to call up the stop command, but I still can’t figure out how to exit a program and return to the Hulu Plus menu. This means, of course, that–unless I’m planning to binge multiple episodes in a row–I’m generally forced to employ my ol’ DualShock 4 or use the PS button to close the app outright.
All things considered, I’ve really become quite fond of my PlayStation 4 Universal Media Remote, and I use it daily. It offers great control of my television–which, admittedly, mostly consists of changing the volume and selecting HDMI inputs–and solid performance for all but a single one of my standard streaming applications.
This PDP remote is currently available via Amazon for $24.99, and I’d definitely recommend it at that price–despite that overall lackluster 2 1/2 star rating. If you’re looking for a simple, effective, and inexpensive solution for controlling your PS4 media sans DualShock, you should give it a try; I’m certainly glad I did.
Review materials provided by: PDP