PS5 media remote hands-on: simple, streamlined, safe

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In comparison to the PlayStation 5 itself — a big hulking mass of a game console — the PS5-branded media remote is very conservative. It does pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a media remote and not much more, but at least it’ll match your new games machine.

Setting up the remote is incredibly straightforward. It’s powered by a pair of AA batteries, and there’s an option in the PS5’s system menu to pair a remote; once you select it, you just have to hold down two buttons for a few seconds to complete the pairing. From there, you’re ready to go. One nice thing about the remote is its design, which plays off of the PS5 itself. The remote is mostly white, with a band of shiny black around the middle, sort of like an Uh-Oh! Oreo. It’s small and light and comfortable.

In terms of buttons, there are ones for controlling volume, TV power, and video playback, as well as a directional pad with a select button for navigating menus. You also get the PlayStation home button, which behaves the same as it does on the DualSense — bringing up a quick menu of useful actions at the bottom of the screen — as well as four assigned app launches for Disney Plus, Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. Apps launch quickly like everything else on the PS5, but as someone who doesn’t use Spotify, it would’ve been nice to have the option to reassign them.

Meanwhile, the “options” button, which is also present on the DualSense, brings up a playback menu when you’re watching a Blu-ray disc. There’s also a button that doesn’t have a use just yet: the microphone, which Sony says is “reserved for future use,” suggesting that some form of voice control is on the way.

I’ve spent a day or so using the remote and it’s a nice little addition, although not all of the apps seem to be optimized for it. In the YouTube app, for instance, you’ll see button prompts that reference the DualSense instead. That said, it’s easy enough to navigate around this, and the PS5 is launching with a pretty decent lineup of entertainment services — including Apple TV Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock, Spotify, Twitch, YouTube, and Crunchyroll — in addition to the option to play movies via the disc drive (unless you opt for the cheaper, digital-only PS5).

The other important thing to note about the remote, however, is that it’s completely optional. The DualSense gets the job done just fine. Aside from being smaller and more comfortable, the media remote doesn’t add any new functionality — it’s up to you whether that’s worth an extra $30 on top of a brand-new console.

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