Is Microsoft losing faith in its voice-activated Kinect that allows gamers to control the Xbox One with their voices?
This may be a sign.
Thursday, Microsoft announced via its Xbox Blog it will be releasing a remote control for the Xbox One console next month that will sell for $US24.99.
For Xbox One owners who want to control their TV and entertainment at the touch of a button via a familiar remote — we introduce you to the Xbox One Media Remote.
Releasing across Xbox One markets worldwide in early March, the Xbox One Media Remote lets you control video playback for Blu-ray movies and streaming video on Xbox One*. Additionally, there are dedicated Back and OneGuide buttons. The OneGuide button provides one-touch, quick access to your favourite TV shows and movies through the Xbox program guide**. This simple, yet powerful remote is designed to help you listen, watch and switch among experiences instantly.
The Media Remote can also control TV/Receiver power and volume through Kinect, which uses IR blasting to send signals to your TV and/or receiver. The easy-to-use remote control has a familiar design with a soft, silicone finish that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. As soon as you pick up the remote, the motion-activated backlit buttons illuminate, allowing it to be used in the darkest of rooms while playing games, watching TV shows, movies and more.
It sounds like the only additions of the handheld remote are the “back” and “One Guide” buttons. The One Guide is the Xbox’s version of a cable television guide for anyone who has their cable hooked up to the console.
Gamer responses to the remote have ranged from positive to humorous. Many gamers have made reference to the Kinect.
Others believe Microsoft’s Smart Glass app — which allows users to control an Xbox console from a smart phone or tablet — already serves this function.
“This is a nice addition but what I’m really hoping for is better SmartGlass integration with media/tv.”
Personally, I’m not really sure who will really buy this.
Microsoft already has consumers shelling out $US500 for the Xbox One — $US100 more than Sony’s PS4.
If you want a second controller for the console that’s another $US59.99.
You’ll probably want the rechargeable battery for your controller — the Play and Charge Kit — which allows you to recharge your controller while you’re playing or not. It’s very handy if you don’t want to continuously swap out batteries (you don’t). That will set you back another $24.99.
Then there’s the entire reason you bought the next-gen console — for the exclusive games. One of the year’s most anticipated titles “Titanfall” will be released March 11. The stand-alone version costs $59.99.
At this point, you have spent well over $US650 and that’s without tax. Do you really need another $US25 remote?
I already have individual remotes for my television, cable box, and my Blu-Ray player (which I suppose is obsolete now since I can play movies in the Xbox).
There’s nothing wrong with using the Xbox One controller to navigate through the console’s media center. Sure, it’s frustrating if I’m watching something and the remote turns off after a certain amount of time, but it allows me to easily fast-forward, rewind, and access any menus necessary. If I want to turn the volume up and down, I can simply tell the Kinect to do that — and most of the time it works (unless the TV’s up too loud).
The only buttons that are of use on this remote — the One Guide, the back button, and perhaps the volume controls.
However, I haven’t found the Xbox One Guide handy at all up to now. Since I run cable through the console I can simply bring up my own TV guide with the use of my Comcast remote. The same goes for the volume controls. Not everyone uses the console to watch cable especially if they don’t have a box that’s compatible with the system.
We reached out to Microsoft to ask why they’re releasing a remote. Here’s the response we received from a spokesperson:
“The Xbox One Media Remote works across the entire system and offers another way to control your Xbox One. The Media Remote is optimised for OneGuide, TV, Blu-Ray and media apps. It’s yet another way to control your Xbox One and lets everyone in the family easily control their entertainment. We are still invested in Kinect and voice and motion control and believe both methods can work well together to control your living room.”
An Amazon listing has the remote set for a March 4 release.
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