When it comes to the streaming experience, the remote can be just as important as the streaming player it is bundled with. After all, this is what will be used on a daily basis to access streaming apps and control the device.
In spite of this, the remote is often an overlooked aspect by many when they are shopping for a new streaming player. Sometimes, device-makers also overlook the remote, or attempt to save on the cost by cutting corners in terms of the quality of the remote.
So who makes the best remote overall? That’s a question we are attempting to take a closer look at and answer in this comparison.
While some of these companies sell premium remotes that you can pair with their devices, here we are taking a look at the remotes you get bundled with their devices. Specifically, the remotes included with their best devices.
In other words, the remotes you get for free with the following streaming players:
- Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen)
- Apple TV 4K (2022)
- Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
- Nvidia Shield TV
- Roku Ultra
The best remote based on design
As this is strictly an aesthetic category, it is very subjective, and certainly more so than other categories. That disclaimer aside, we love the design of the Siri Remote (3rd generation), also known as Apple TV Remote (3rd generation), that’s included with the Apple TV 4K streaming player.
Now, this choice will require an additional disclaimer as the design of Apple’s remote is quite poor in terms of functionality. It is small, easy to lose, and very limited in terms of buttons. All criticisms that have also been been leveled at Apple’s past remotes as well.
Still, the sleek design of the remote, and its cool feel in the hand, makes it a fan favorite for us. It just feels like a great remote when held, and rightly or wrongly, that’s the main yardstick I’m using here to evaluate the design.
For what it is worth, the remote control that you get for free with Google’s much, much cheaper Chromecast with Google TV is also worth a quick mention. While it isn’t the best-looking remote, it is a really well designed remote overall.
In spite of being smaller than Apple’s remote, it includes almost all of the buttons you might need. Also, while there is no cool touch to speak of, the compact and curved design also feels great in the hand.
To sum up the decisions made here, the remotes you get bundled with the Apple TV 4K and the Chromecast with Google TV are ones you don’t really want to let go of, albeit for very different reasons.
Based on build quality and durability
For us, this was another category that swung in favor of Apple. Featuring an aluminum silver casing, the Apple TV Remote feels like it is built to last. While I haven’t exactly thrown it around to see just how durable it is, it seems rugged enough, and feels likely to withstand long-term usage.
Another remote that’s worthy of a mention is the Roku Ultra remote. Again, for a very different reason.
Unlike the Apple TV Remote, the remote bundled with the Roku Ultra feels cheaper and looks nowhere near as stylish. That said, it is big and bulky, and just seems like it should be able to deal with what a home throws at it.
In this respect, the difference between the Roku remote and the Siri Remote reminds me a lot of the differences between a rugged smartphone and a flagship smartphone. Both are build to last, but built differently to last.
Based on functionality
Regardless of which remote feels the best, or is the most durable, it will only ever be as good as its functionality. For us, the remote bundled with the Fire TV Cube is the clear winner in this department.
In truth, the Fire TV Cube’s remote is nothing special, but that’s also its charm. It is almost a perfect remote in terms of size, design, and button configuration, making it the best functional remote overall.
In fairness to Nvidia, the Shield Remote is also a very good remote in this respect. It comes with plenty of controls and many homes will find it just as functional as Amazon’s.
However, it is limited to just a dedicated Netflix button. While it does also feature a programmable button that can be used as a shortcut to other apps, the Fire TV remote comes loaded with dedicated Prime Video, Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu buttons.
Not that it affects functionality, but the triangle design of the Shield Remote does get annoying at times.
And the overall winner is…
The Fire TV Cube remote.
For those that like to keep score, they might have noticed that the Apple TV remote actually won more categories here than the Fire TV Cube remote. However, the categories that the Siri remote won are more related to design and aesthetics.
While the Fire TV Cube remote doesn’t shine as much in these departments, it is a better remote overall. It looks fine, feels fine in the hand, and works fine. For us, it is so mundane that it is a remote you will barely think of while using.
Therein is exactly why it is our favorite. You won’t spend any time thinking about what’s wrong with the Fire TV Cube remote, or what it is missing, and the same cannot really be said for the other remotes tested.