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Talon Media Remote for Xbox One puts Microsoft's remote to shame

Cord-cutters who want a great remote-control experience with the Xbox One should get the PDP Talon Media Remote for all their movie and TV needs.

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One

Update: While the remote and functionality is excellent, it has been noted by many, including ourselves, that the battery door eventually loses grip and starts to slide off with every use. There's an apparent design flaw that proves annoying for those who plan to use this remote for more than a few months. As such, we've revised our original review score from 5 to 2.5.

I recently lambasted Microsoft's aging media remote for the Xbox One, but there is some good news: Accessory maker PDP has a $20 alternative remote control, and though it doesn't address all my concerns, it is an easy recommendation.

I spent the last week with the PDP Talon, and until Microsoft brings something better to market, I'm happy to put down my game controller for this remote.

About this review

The PDP Talon Media Remote was purchased on Amazon for $19.49. For Canada and Mexico, you can also directly order through PDP's website. (Thanks to all of those in our comments section who recommended it as an alternative to Microsoft's.)

PDP Talon Media Remote: What you get

For design, PDP took Microsoft's Media Remote, added more buttons, and improved the IR blaster.

The first thing you'll notice with the Talon is the length. It's nearly twice as long as Microsoft's, but it's for good reason as PDP added much more media functionality. For instance, there is now a full number pad for channel changing, plus many other useful features like standard Xbox A, B, X, and Y buttons, which are lifesavers. There is also a dedicated record button for live TV (through your cable provider), a closed-caption (CC) toggle, and a few other buttons that take over for your cable TV remote.

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One

Microsoft's media remote (left) versus PDP Talon (right).

As expected, there is the Xbox big button on top that powers on your console or bring up the menu. Altogether, the Talon has 35 buttons versus Microsoft's minimalist 14-button design.

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One

The backlit keys on the Talon look in total darkness.

For materials, PDP went with a black, matte, soft-touch paint design, which feels similar but is not quite as velvety as Microsoft's. It feels solid, but it's not at all heavy, weighing 110 grams versus Microsoft's 101 grams.

Like the Microsoft Media Remote, the Talon has motion-activated backlit keys. The remote's buttons only light up when you grab it, saving battery life and making it easier to use in the dark. The Talon is powered by two AAA batteries, which are included in the box.

PDP Talon Media Remote: Performance

Regarding setup, there is none. You do not need to pair the Talon with the Xbox at all; it just works out of the box. That ability has another benefit: you can use the Talon with multiple Xbox consoles at the same time. In my house, we have three Xbox One consoles, and the Talon worked with all of them without pairing or doing anything unique. (Don't worry, you need to be in the same room for the Talon to control the Xbox, so turning one console off won't accidentally affect your other console).

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One

A full number pad makes changing channels a breeze with the Talon.

The Talon is also always on unlike the wireless game controller. There is no waiting to begin using it, and it feels just like your cable TV or audio receiver remote.

Microsoft's Media Remote uses an IR blaster, which is hidden in the front of the device. I'm not sure how the Talon interacts with the Xbox One, but it's leaps and bounds better. There is no evident IR blaster on the front, although perhaps it is just hidden.

I recently reviewed the HIDEit Xbox One mount, which puts the console behind a wall-mounted TV. That makes the IR receiver on the Xbox obscured, but this does not affect the Talon at all. When I was standing 20-feet back from the TV, I could power on the Xbox and launch all the applications even though the Xbox is concealed. While I still needed to point the Talon at the TV, it was very lenient with no retakes or repositioning to get the right angle.

Response accuracy with the Talon's button is excellent. I never had to repeat a push or press it a specific way. The discrete A, B, X, and Y buttons are a handy tool for Xbox apps that don't make use of the media ones.

Setting up an external audio receiver through the Xbox guide will also let you manipulate that device's features. For example, I have an Onkyo 7.1 surround system and the Xbox recognizes it through its settings. As a result, the volume keys control my Onkyo and not my TV or the Xbox directly (you still aim at the Xbox, however). This behavior is expected, and it will work for those with their cable TV systems running through the Xbox.

For those looking to ditch a separate cable TV box remote, audio receiver controller, and their Xbox wireless game controller for one single device, the Talon gets the job done.

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One: What's missing

The Talon Media Remote it still does not address the lack of Cortana and voice functionality. That's not really on PDP, however, as it is not clear that third-party companies could make a discrete Cortana button or that adding a microphone would work. Again, this gets back to Microsoft, which should build out the functionality and open it up for manufacturers who want to make Xbox One accessories.

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One

PDP Talon (Image credit: Windows Central)

There are 35 buttons on the Talon, but you may not use all of them as it depends on your home setup. If you are a cord-cutter like me the live recording button or CC one won't do much. The same applies to the dedicated OneGuide button. Even then, many cable companies have a dedicated button on their remote to bring up their cable DVR guide, which won't work with the Talon. That means you may occasionally have to grab your cable remote for advanced functionality.

A built-in headphone jack would also be welcome for those who don't want to disturb loved ones late at night. Again, it's not clear PDP could make that work with the Talon, so it's unfair to ding the company for it.

Other than that, the PDP Talon dramatically improves on the "blaster" part, making the overall daily experience substantially better than Microsoft's.

PDP Talon Media Remote is a must-buy for TV fans

Using the PDP Talon for the last week was a breath of fresh air. While many people use the Xbox wireless controller for media functions the idea of having to power it on just to change the channel, manipulate Hulu, or stop Netflix from firing up that next episode is far from ideal. The Talon Media Remote solves this, and it significantly improves upon Microsoft's remote. Whether it's the dedicated number pad for changing the channel, controlling an external audio receiver, or using the discrete A, B, X, or Y buttons, the Talon Media Remote is outstanding.

Talon Media Remote for Xbox One

PDP Talon Media Remote (Image credit: Windows Central)

The performance and ability for the Talon to work even when the Xbox is out of sight also reduced my blood pressure in having to always re-fire the Microsoft media remote. Plus, with no setup and the ability to control multiple Xbox One consoles, there are no complications.

Update: While the remote and functionality is excellent, it has been noted by many, including ourselves, that the battery door eventually loses grip and starts to slide off with every use. There's an apparent design flaw that proves annoying for those who plan to use this remote for more than a few months. As such, we've revised our original review score from 5 to 2.5.

Finally, the best part of the PDP Talon Media Remote is the price. At $20, it is six dollars cheaper on Amazon than Microsoft's remote yet is better in every way. If you own an Xbox One, Xbox One S, or plan on getting the new 4K Xbox One X and you watch TV or use Sling, the PDP Talon Media Remote is your best bet.

Pros:

  • Powerful blaster that works even when the Xbox is hidden.
  • Dedicated A, B, X, and Y buttons and full number pad for channel changing.
  • No setup; supports multiple Xbox One consoles.
  • Comfortable, easy to use, with long-lasting batteries.
  • Bargain price.

Cons:

  • Battery door eventually comes loose.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

36 Comments
  • Thanks Dan, Nice write up.
  • Interesting. I may give it a try if just for the fact that it appears to not require line of sight. The way my living room is currently setup that will really come in handy. I had not bought it precisely because I thought it would require the same line on sight as the one from Microsoft does.   Microsoft's remote is driving me insane with me having to angle it in weird ways to get it to go pass the table in the middle of the room and actually work.
  • Yeah, that was my biggest surprise too and I was shocked with my HIDEit setup it worked perfectly. I ordered a 2nd one now so we can have one for the upstairs/downstairs.
  • Hey Dan, this was the remote I referenced in your last post about the Xbox remotes.  This is the BEST Xbox remote I've found to date.  Been using for a while now.  It's awesome!
  • I think this article came about from your comments on the last media remote post!
    Brilliant find, my hats off to you sir!
  • The only problem I've had with this remote is the felt coating wears off over time and starts to look ugly, I opted to just scrape the layer off but that's just a cosmetic, functionality Wise it's perfect.
  • This is a good article! I'm gonna get it right now
  • I've had this for a while and although I do agree it is the Xbox remote to shame, I still find myself having to point it at odd angles to get it to consistently register with my Xbox. Could have to do with my setup or room layout but to me it highlights the Achilles heel - it's still an it blaster   Compared to the remote on my Kindle fire tv which has far less functionality (even ignoring the built in microphone), it's a night and day experience and I'd prefer the Fire TV remote any day of the week. It's mind boggling how we don't have a Bluetooth based remote for Xbox. 
  • The Xbox one doesn't have Bluetooth
  • I actually prefer an IR remote to the fire tv stick one. I put that one away. I just use Alexa to turn it on and control it through HDMI CEC. I don’t like that there seems to be a delay sometimes when using the fire remote. I also feel like it’s prone to freezing,
  •  Inteset remote is IMO better. 
  • Is it working well with the Bluray app? Does it have a menu and top menu button, will the previous/next/pause/stop work fine? I use my Xbox One S mostly as a Bluray player. Will it also work well with other apps like VLC and other video/audio apps? Thanks  
  • I've been using this remote for about two months now and have been nothing but impressed.  Like you, Dan, I was shocked @ the range of this thing.  In my mid-sized living room I can use it exactly how I used to use the PS3 bluetooth media remote (which, to me, is the gold standard).  I can literally point it any which way, hold it in any position and it will always register the command.  It's brilliant.
  • If I had to point out one flaw, it would be the arrow/select circle configuration.  The clicking action, you do have to press harder and deeper to engage the directional arrow/select buttons as compared to the Xbox Media Remote.
  • Sold!
  • Mine came with dead batteries. Also the backlight flickers really fast isn't completely solid/bright, like it's refresh rate is too slow. Maybe mine's defective.
  • Ohhh, I might get that just for the A/B/X/Y buttons :)  My only complaint with the MS one is the lack of those buttons, never had issue with the IR transmission working well.  Though, what I really want is a remote (and controller) with a mic and Cortana button as you mentioned... of course I also want an Xbox streaming puck, a Cortana cube, DVR recording on the XBO, Groove family plan, Windows phones to rise from the grave, a Band 3, and on and on  :) 
  • Bought one of these on Amazon, got it, package was not factory sealed....returned, ordered another one...package was not factory sealed.  Returned.  Bought Microsoft Xbox One remote. Factory sealed, works great.  Done.
  • If you're in the states go to Best Buy.  I got mine there many months ago.  Factory sealed and all.  :)
  • Are you buying from Amazon directly or from third-party marketplace sellers?
  • I use the Nyko remote that came with its battery charger. It doesn't have as many features as this PDP Talon, but it's better than the Microsoft remote. It also has an Eject button!!! Yes, love my Eject button.
  • It's a nice remote I just got mine the other week.
  • About time Windows Central found this! I've had mine since April. Beware if you purchase though, it has a very weak layer on the actual remote and is extremely easy to accidentally rip Here's a picture of mine: https://i.imgur.com/eJjLIJe.jpg
  • i have both and enjoy the PDP Talon remote. It's awesome and have been using it all year.
  • Really miss your article boss. Welcome back.
  • Amazon dropped the price by $5.
  • I'd still love a Microsoft Wireless remote so it's not got line of sight needed and a headphone port on the bottom like the Roku.
    If it had that, this remote would be perfect!
    But out of all the remotes out there currently, it's the best there is!
  • I have one but the volume buttons don't work when playing game or watching a movie
  • It is IR.  Just open the camera app on your phone, point the remote at the lens and press any function on the remote, you will see the IR. KC
  • Awesome review Daniel, just what I needed to know. Contemplating on moving my xbox out of my room and replacing the currently aging sky set top box (using freesat) with the xbox + freeview hd or go for sky q in the living room.  
  • Ok, I have this remote but it does NOT work without line of sight with the XBox One. Which drives me crazy to hear Dan say it works with his hidden XBox setup. I don't how this can be.
  • Same here. I wonder if it has to do with mine being an early version. I pre-ordered it at GameStop, and ultimately bought it at Walmart because it was on their shelf sooner. I still use it because it's usually handier than turning-on the game controller--but not as much as I'd like.
  • ... Maybe there's something wrong with my Xbox--the Talon remote is the only IR device I've tried with it...
  • Is there a button for Previous Channel like there is on the Xbox controller?
  • I love my Harmony Touch remote, and it controls everything on the Xbox, as well as everything else. Why use multiple remote when one does it all?
  • I have both remotes for about a year now (the official one for longer). Talon's is by far fave of the 2.