Gear Review: PDP Media Remote for PlayStation 4

PDP’s new PlayStation 4 Media Remote is an alternative to, not a replacement for, the company’s previously released Universal Media Remote. The operative word differentiating the two being universal, because whereas the last model was built as an all-in-one solution for controlling an entire center of entertainment devices (TV, cable box, audio receiver, etc.), this one is streamlined as a PS4-only remote, tailored to users who primarily consume their media via the plethora of streaming apps available within the PlayStation ecosystem.

PDP has essentially reconfigured a DualShock 4 into the form factor of a remote control (minus things like the touch pad, analog sticks, and light bar, of course). Elongated, ovular Share and Options buttons sandwich the ubiquitous PS home button along the top. All of the core DualShock controls are arranged in a compass-like configuration at the remote’s center. The Triangle, Cross, Circle, and Square buttons act as the North, South, East, and West points circling a central Enter button, while the ring of empty space between the face buttons and Enter holds the corresponding directional arrows. The L1, L2, R1, and R2 shoulder buttons are represented here as arcing buttons that fill in the curved gaps between the face buttons. Underneath is where you’ll find the dedicated media controls, including play, pause, fast forward, rewind, next, and previous.

Instinctive navigation of the central button compass, without having to look down at what you’re pressing, does take some time and practice to get used to. Whereas the four face buttons and central Enter button are raised, the directional arrows and the L and R buttons lie flush with the surface, so in order to navigate blind you have to learn to gauge which arrow or shoulder you’re on solely by the feel of the face and Enter buttons as the nubs rub against the sides of your thumb. This can prove especially problematic with text entry, especially if you have fat thumbs. I got used to it eventually, but early on, as I was setting up apps and inputting log-in information, multiple times I found myself accidentally nudging a face button instead of the desired direction arrow, which backed me out of the soft keyboard and forced me to start the password entry over from scratch. I’m fine with the flat direction buttons, but it would’ve been nice to have at least some additional form of texture cue, such as an ever so subtle bump or nub to the arrow icons painted in the middle of the buttons, to provide that extra reassurance that you’re about to press the button you want to press.

While the button placement isn’t instantaneously intuitive, the remote offers exceptional button feel. The thumb slides across the smooth rubber buttons like butter. Upon depression, the buttons have a satisfying audible and tactile bump, offering a sensation similar to that of a mechanical keyboard. The button action feels firm and sudden, so when you’ve pushed a button with this remote, you know you’ve pushed it.

Ergonomically, the remote is compact and contoured to slot comfortably in the palm of your hand and put all of its buttons within immediate access of the thumb, without having to reach or slide the remote up or down in your hand. For comparison’s sake, I’ve uploaded a side-by-side shot of this media remote next to the older universal model further down the page. As you’ll see, the new one is much shorter, a bit wider, less button dense, and curvier in all the right places. The underside of the remote is similarly coated in a fine crosshatch texturing, providing a comfortable grip.

Opposed to having one of those common battery hatches with the little tab you pull back to open, the entire undercarriage is a shell that easily slides off to reveal the battery compartment. You don’t have to worry about breaking a latch or losing the cover plate. I can think of a few remotes in the past that I’ve had to tape shut because of a broken battery cover, so it’s nice to know that that’s one less potential cause of concern from aggregate wear and tear.

Pairing the remote with the PS4 follows the same steps as pairing any other Bluetooth device, by going into the PS4’s settings menu, simultaneously holding down the PS and Share buttons until the light flashes, and then holding the remote next to the system until it is recognized in the device list for confirmation. Everything’s good to go within a couple minutes, if even that long. You’ll need a DualShock 4 for the setup process, but afterward you can control the console’s interface independently with only the remote, including the ability to tap the PS button to power on the system or wake it out of sleep mode.

To conserve battery life, the remote auto-sleeps after 30 minutes of inactivity. (FYI: the remote runs on two AAAs, which are NOT included in the box.) Pressing any button wakes the remote out of its nap with a slight delay, at which point the button pressed to wake the remote is registered. So, for example, if you want to pause in the middle of a movie but the remote has gone to sleep, you don’t have to first wait for the remote to rise from its slumber and then hit the desired button, just hit pause and the remote will wake up and pause the movie.

For my own personal setup, I still narrowly choose PDP’s universal remote. While I very much do prefer the overall design, ergonomics, button feel, and core operability of this remote, I consume my media largely through Blu-ray, DVD, and cable, so having a universal remote to manage multiple devices is a lot easier. Not having functionality as basic as volume control means I still need to keep the cable or TV remote handy, which certainly isn’t a big deal but is a matter of convenience. However, for any one who has fully embraced modern digital entertainment distribution and uses their PS4 as a hub to stream media, this remote is without question the better choice. Appropriately, the remote is compatible with all of the major PS4 media apps. I’ve tested it with PlayStation Vue, Vudu, and YouTube, and it’s performed wonderfully. Other apps like Netflix and Hulu are also supported, though I don’t have subscriptions with those services so I couldn’t test either one out specifically.

Buy From: The Media Remote for PlayStation 4 is available from Amazon, GameStop, and PDP at an MSRP of $24.99.

Disclosure: Product sample provided to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by PDP.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!