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Nyko Media Remote review – a better, less expensive remote for Xbox One

With gaming consoles, first-party accessories are often much nicer than their third-party equivalents. We've all had a poor experience with a third-party controllers at some point, but recent evidence suggests that third-parties are getting better at the accessory game. For example, Power A's recent Xbox One Mini Series controller is a pretty sweet (though not entirely superior) low-priced alternative to official controllers.

It certainly helps a third party's case when the first-party item wasn't really exceptional. The Xbox One Media Remote is a fine accessory, but was designed more for style than substance. Accessory manufacturer Nyko has taken the opposite approach with its own media remote. The Nyko Media Remote for Xbox One is a better remote control than the official model, and it costs ten dollars less to boot.

Flat or round?

The Nyko Media Remote has a rectangular shape with recessed corners. It measures approximately 4.5 x 2.15 x .6 inches (120 x 55 x 15 mm). That makes it a tad shorter than the Microsoft remote's 125 mm length, but wider than its 50 mm.

The height of both remotes is where their shapes really differ. Microsoft's remote has a round back that measures about 22 mm at its thickest. Nyko's remote is shorter on that plane, and more importantly, flatter. That round back provides the Microsoft remote with better ergonomics when gripped in the hand, but also a pronounced wobble when placed on a flat surface. If you don't want it to wobble around, you have to place it face down on the button side. No such issue with Nyko's model.

Batteries not included

The Microsoft remote, like nearly all remotes since the days of Lincoln's assassination, is powered by two AA batteries. Nyko's remote has to forego the AA route due to the aforementioned thinness. Instead, it draws power from two AAA batteries, the underachievers of the A battery family (nobody knows what happened to Papa Single A).

In all seriousness, AAAs are no big deal except you're less likely to have a spare set sitting around. Some battery rechargers can't do AAA either, which would be inconvenient for people who buy crappy chargers.

Speaking of batteries, the battery compartment takes up a hair over half of the Nyko remote's underbelly. It's easier to remove than the Microsoft remote's battery door, and bears an engraved Nyko logo. The other portion of the underside has a series of ridges cut into the plastic. These ridges might be to improve grip, though they're more likely just for looks. They don't really add any visual appeal, but I don't mind them.

Aesthetics

Looks are probably the Nyko remote's weakest area. I speak mainly of the top/front of the remote. The area with the buttons has a nice matte finish. Below that, a silver stripe houses a green LED. The LED lights up when a button is pressed or held, and it actually looks pretty cool.

The area below the silver stripe houses a silver Nyko logo. Inexplicably, that area is made of glossy black plastic instead of the matte style that comprises the rest of the remote's surface. Glossy plastic shows fingerprints and smudges much more than matte plastic, making it a lesser choice for handheld electronics. It also looks weird, just having that one shiny area.

The buttons

My final visual complaint about the Nyko Media Remote is the Home (Guide) button has a little house symbol printed on it instead of an Xbox logo. That's a little odd and maybe indicates that the remote is not licensed by Microsoft (which would also help explain its affordability).

Otherwise, buttons are really the Nyko Media Remote's strongest feature. The button labels have a bright white color that is easy to see, even in dim settings. In contrast, the Microsoft remote's buttons have a much more dull color. They light up when you move the remote, but I still find Nyko's buttons have better visibility overall.

Nyko's buttons also extend farther from the remote, making them easier to find by touch. And they are positioned more closely together. I can touch any button on the Nyko remote with my thumb without moving my hand, but I can't do that with the Microsoft remote.

The Nyko Media Remote has the same twenty buttons as the Microsoft remote, plus two more: Power and Eject. The Power button is great. You just tap it to turn the console on or off – no need to hold the button down or confirm that you want to power down.

As for the eject button, it will make the Xbox One spit a disc out like so much black licorice. Both of these functions were missed on the official remote.

As for the buttons we haven't mentioned yet, you get View and Menu, Back, and that damn OneGuide button, all surrounding the top of the arrow buttons. Below it, the Mute button extrudes from the remote like the other buttons, so it can be found by touch. The Microsoft remote has a non-extrusive Mute button for no reason that I can think of.

The Channel and Volume buttons are swapped on the Nyko remote. Channel up and down site on the left, with Volume up and down on the right. I barely use the channel buttons and don't use volume at all, so the swap doesn't affect me much.

Finally, the six standard Playback buttons occupy the bottom of the button area, just above the LED bar.

Using a Media Remote with Xbox One

Since we reviewed Microsoft's Xbox One Media Remotein March, the Xbox One has seen a few improvements to its UI and video playback apps. Navigating the dashboard with a remote control remains the same. The Channel buttons still act like page up and down buttons on some menus but not others, reducing their utility. And much to my chagrin, the View button continues to do nothing on the actual dashboard. No sane person can explain why View doesn't control the snap feature.

Still, two important video apps work much better with remotes now: the Blu-ray player and YouTube. When the Xbox One Media Remote launched, the remote's Menu button did nothing. That made no sense because Blu-ray and DVD menus are pretty important. Nowadays, the Menu button actually activates a disc's menus, thank goodness. The View button now has a function as well. It opens the general video playback menu.

Initially, the YouTube app was incompatible with media remotes. It has since graduated to partial compatibility. You can use the remote to browse a selection of your subscription's recent videos, search for videos, and access the app settings. What you can't do is view your entire subscription list or access other menu functions. Those features are activated by the X button on a controller, and (shamefully) have not been mapped to a media remote button. But hey, at least the app kind of supports remotes now!

Overall Impression

The Nyko Media Remote is not much of a looker. That should surprise nobody, considering the remote costs ten dollars less than the Microsoft version. What's surprising is how the Nyko remote exceeds Microsoft's remote in the areas that really count. The buttons are easier to see and easier to press, and you even get two buttons that Microsoft left out of its own remote.

If I had to choose between Microsoft's prettier remote for $25 and Nyko's more useful remote for $15, I'd go with the Nyko every time. (If you're looking for a cheaper alternative in the UK, the Protek Media Remote (opens in new tab) fits the bill but isn't as nice as Nyko's version.)

  • Nyko Media Remote for Xbox One – $14.99 – Amazon Link (opens in new tab)

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

59 Comments
  • Not to knock single device remotes, but...
    Alternatively, Inteset makes a universal learning remote with built in codes for the Xbox One, the INT422.
    4 device remote including support for Roku and Apple TV. Backlit buttons too.
    Only $22 on Amazon.
  • Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try to check it out. :)
  • Checking it out is one thing. Programming it is another. If you have an hour to burn, well worth your time. Or, if you have money to spend, the Logitech Harmony Hub is near perfect.
  • Didn't you say it's preprogrammed for Xbox One though? Yeah, we also need to try to get a review unit from Logitech. Haven't worked with them before, but I'd like to. (My one ~$80 Logitech Harmony remote started behaving erratically and then died within a year.)
  • Logitech has great warranty support on their Mice and KB. Dunno about the remotes. As for the other company; Inteset has been around for a while, but this remote is fairly new. I believe it was released in July or maybe August. To confirm, the INT422 is preprogrammed with Xbox One, Apple TV, and Roku. Works flawlessly with Xbox and Roku. Their device library is also fairly robust for a relatively unknown company. Good luck with pursuing them =)    
  • I have two Logitech's in the home, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. Hubs actually, controlled by my smartphone and tablet. Can't recommend them enough. I personally don't need the one in the living room anymore however since the Kinect/remote combo runs my AV equipment perfectly now including my PVR tuner plugged into the back of the Xbox. If I could just get better integration of my AFTV from the XBOX I'd be set.
  • AFTV? Making acronyms where there isn't is perturbed, isn't it? It comes down to cost with universal remotes. I personally can't justify spending upwards of $100 on a remote control. That said, I also don't mind sitting down for an hour, reading instructions, and programming a remote to fit my requirements. Backlighting is important. Ergonomics are important. Learning is a must. Alternatively, some people prefer single device remotes. I'm aware the Harmony Hubs are great, however it would be ignorant to ignore the cost prohibitiveness for some people. Or the learning curve for others.
  • Yeah I just plug my harmony remote into my PC, add my devices, and go. Takes about 3 minutes
  • I loved my harmony remote, but I won't touch another one till the add WP support. 
  • Why remote? My kinect is my remote
  • Because sometimes it's easier to just use a remote than to have to say "Xbox Watch ESPN" eitght times before it recognizes what you're saying.
  • You have a broken Kinect, mine don't need more the one time.
  • Even if it's not 8 times, it's not uncommon for the Kinect to miss voice commands. Especially if you have sound playing and/or other people in the room.
  • Or maybe he suffers from my problem. My dog has recognized "Xbox turn off" a cue for when I am getting up to do something. She then starts barking to get my attention, because she wants to make sure I take her with me. Often times Kinect cannot hear "Yes", and once it recognized her bark/husky noise as "No". 
  • Might depend on your accent my South East England accent is not something I think Kinect was tested with
  • They're both terrible. The media remote for 360 wipes the floor with its next gen counterpart, especially in apps such as Netflix which require you to press the Y button to search and the newer media remote doesn't have any of them.
  • You can search in YouTube using that search box at the top of the main menu, as depicted in the screenshot. The X button menu seems to be the only feature that remotes can't access. BUT that is the fault of the app developers, not the remote makers. Still, I agree that actual A, B, X, and Y buttons the remotes would have been better - blame Microsoft for not going with that idea.
  • MS should have stipulated that apps have the option to use the menu button as part of the certification process. So yes it's partly the developers' fault, but I lay the blame more at the door of Microsoft.
  • SMARTGLASS! Its the only thing it does well
  • Except a phone/tablet has to be woken up/synced when you go to use it.
  • I using Logitech harmony 350 to control my xbox one and it's amazing.
  • I just program my Harmony One remote. Works great.
  • +One
  • Without a number pad and dedicated ABXY buttons, it's still pretty useless, IMO.
  • I wouldn't say better, just a cheap nock off with 2 extra buttons. Will still prefer the Xbox one's
  • Those buttons make a difference. The original remote is already missing a lot of buttons that people would want. Knock-off is a strange term to use. it's not like Microsoft invented remote controls. There were always going to be multiple remotes for this or any media-oriented console.
  • The Microsoft version is really only missing 1 of the buttons, the eject button, which seem reasonable since you have to go to the console to get the disc out anyways.  The Nyko has a power button and a home button, while the Microsoft remote has an Xbox button: tap once to go home, hold down to shut off the console.
  • Sure you can turn off the Xbox One by holding any Home button long enough. It's cool to be able to do it with a single touch though.
  • Id say they dropped eject for the fact digital is more popular
  • Have to agree. It looks like a cheap $5 remote and I much prefer the overall feel of the official remote and have no problems using it one handed. Cheap does not always mean better, I'm fine with paying more for a quality product, even if its missing a few buttons. Push comes to shove, I have an old harmony remote I can program but since the Xbox remote powers and controls my whole system I don't really have a need to.
  • You can reach every button on the Microsoft remote with one thumb, without moving your hand? You'd almost need to be double-jointed for that. My argument isn't that the Nyko remote is better because it's cheaper. The argument is that it does more things (2 extra buttons), the buttons are easier to see in the dark, they're easier to reach, and they're easier to find by touch. I understand wanting prettier things and being willing to pay for that, but IMO prettier does not mean better if there are other variables at play.
  • FWIW, I have the Nyko charge packs and charger stand for xb360. I've been really impressed with it. Cheap in price, but not necessarily quality in my limited, but real experience.
  • The ugly design is not worth the $10 difference.
  • I ain't affraid of no ghost.
  • Can I get some slime on my Stay Puff marshmallows? And remember kids, don't cross the streams. #tmyk
  • The nyko looks like something from the 80s - 90s
  • I want to get a girl and make out
  • Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which filled up faster.
  • Whaaaaat Ghostbusters! I grew up with those guys! Major fan back then!
  • I really like the look of the MS remote but as you note it is a little hard to use one handed and I think its the buttons but also the rolled back that feels good in the hand but is really not that stable when you try to one hand.  I also like how its buttons lites up with motion although I wish it stayed lit a little longer so you wouldn't have to shake it if you holdit still for a second or two.  All in all its really not that good of a remote.  The volume and mute buttons do come in very handy when you use it with your Hi-Fi surround, love that feature of the xbox one.  I really wish it had the controller action buttons and then it would be complete as I will usually have to open smartglass on my 8" DVP which makes a fantastic remote when I run into certain things I want to do (or grab the controller which usually means I have to get off my couch ;( LOL). 
  • I wish Microsoft would release an official remote with a number pad, ABXY buttons, and a flip out sliding keyboard...that would be perfect!
  • I use a Logitech harmony. Ever since owning this thing I cannot fathom how I survived without one. Universal remotes are the freaking bomb.
  • Don't use volume?? For my wife and i, that is the killer app. Xbox One does everything in our house. And the Xbox One media remote from MS is the only "remote" that we have.
  • I do need to try to set that stuff up. I've never looked into it.
  • i cant see this for sale in the united kingdom :(
  • Yeah, it's a shame. I did link to a different inexpensive UK remote at the end of the review though.
  • thanks Paul, yes i saw that, but this unit with the eject and power seems spot on, i guess a trip to amazon US and ordering there is best bet even with the few weeks of transit time possibly. cheers
  • Is there any remote or way to use these without line of sight?  I have my Xbox in the closet without a kinect and I'm forced to use the controller since it uses WiFi Direct or Bluetooth (not sure which one).  I want a remote I don't have to point at anything to work.   
  • Unfortunately, Microsoft chose not to use Wi-Fi Direct or Bluetooth for the Xbox One remote control protocol. Maybe Logitech has a product that can simulate line of sight?
  • The nice aspect of IR is no pairing time and longer battery life.  Pick up the remote and it works instantly, unlike the controller which has to wirelessly connect.
  • It might be better (I haven't read the article to decide if it would be better for me) but it is a LOT uglier (yes, I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder).   Hopefully Microsoft comes with a better remote soon.   For me the two extra buttons do not mean much. Nothing that I need/want. Now if one were a button to go to the previous channel we would be talking.
  • None of these matter to me until they have DVR controls. I'm assuming the volume signals are passed to the Xbox, which would then pass the proper signals to my amp (as it does when I use SmartGlass). Why can't they come up with one that will control my DVR?
  • The official remote also uses AAA-batteries. Love the design, it lays perfectly still on my textile sofa. I also found it weird that it didn't have an eject button, saves you the time from waiting at the console for the disc to stop spinning. Brightness is another point for disagreement, it certainly shouldn't be brighter, that would make my pupils go crazy.
  • OK Paul, now that you've got me interested in a remote control I'd like to see a follow-up comparing the Nyko with some of the other options mentioned here in the comments.
  • If I can get review units for the other types of remotes, I'll be happy to meet your request. :)
  • Let me share my opinion about the Desig with a phrase from the 1987 Predator Movie: "One ugly Motherfucker." I mean really... That thing looks like it was designed back in the 80's ( no offence to the 80's! )
  • "Inexplicably, that area is made of glossy black plastic instead of the matte style that comprises the rest of the remote's surface." The Xbox One itself, as well as the most recent Xbox 360 redesign, also are a mix of matte and glossy materials on the casing.  I don't think it's inexplicable, I think it was an attempt to meld into that motif.  
  • WTH??? AAA until recently were the standard remote battery.. only recently have remotes started to use aa's instead...quite a few remote for recent equipment that are AAA's instead of aa's...
  • Will this work with the newer Xbox One S?