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Looks like the new Apple TV 4K remote still sucks — use this instead

So Apple's announced the new Apple TV 4K — a worthy if not unexpected upgrade that includes 4K resolution (finally) and HDR (sweet).

One thing that apparently hasn't been given a much needed what-for? The remote control. The Apple TV remote as we've come to know it is is simple as it is infuriating, mainly because there's absolutely nothing ergonomic about it. If you're able to pick it up the right direction the first time, every time, you're a damned wizard.

And so it's important that you do the right thing and shun the stock Apple TV remote. Stick it in a drawer and forget that it exists. Or better yet, mail it back to Apple along with an inspirational note about how much Apple products mean to you — and how piss poor this remote is.

And then you need to buy something better. Here's what I'd do.

Logitech Harmony Elite

Harmony Elite

This is an expensive setup right here at close to $250. But, damn, I do love it. You get more buttons than you'll ever need, including slots for smart lights and outlets. (Seriously, I'll never get up to turn off the lights ever again.)

Plus it's got a touchscreen to make using a universal remote that much more idiot-proof. I might continue to decline, but I still can use this remote like it's second nature. That's innovation right there, folks.

Logitech Harmony Companion

OK, this one's far more affordable than the Elite, at about $130. (Yes, that's still not cheap.) It's what I have in the bedroom, and I'd probably recommend getting two of these over a single Harmony Elite.

For one, it's probably the best-designed product since my phone. Seriously, if this thing were a phone I'd carry it everywhere. It just molds itself right to my hand.

And it also does (almost) everything the Harmony Elite does, just without a touchscreen. I can still run every damn device I have, including lights and outlets and whatever else.

Oh, and it also controls the Apple TV just fine, even considering the goofy long presses of the menu button.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Elago R1 Intelli Case

If you do nothing else, pony up $11 and buy this little rubber case for the Apple TV remote. It's going to change the way you hold the remote, for sure. Or at the very least it might actually make you want to use the remote.

Multiple colors are a nice touch, too. I went with red, because I want to make sure I know where this remote is so I can avoid it and use something better. (Scroll back up if you need to.)

We'll just have to wait for Apple to invent a better remote somewhere down the line, I suppose.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days.

9 Comments
  • Love the Logitech Harmony Elite. I've been using it quite a while now to control media devices plus Hue lights. Awesome product!
  • Got the harmony elite and have not looked back. The only strange glitch is my appletv remote controls my sound and with the harmony I have to switch inputs. Strange my setup is prob off somewhere.
  • But can I still play Apple TV games with this remote? (i do hate the remote it ships with.. clearly we were thinking the same thing when they announced it)
  • "If you're able to pick it up the right direction the first time, every time, you're a damned wizard." Ok...I'm not a big fan of the remote myself, I don't hate it, but what I do dislike is statements like this as if to say other remotes are any different! Even the ones the author is holding I defy you to get it right in my dark home theatre room. No remote is immune to this issue other than, rather comically, the Siri Remote with the wrist strap attached. All my other remotes, again like the ones the author is holding, have a top and bottom indistinguishable in the dark. I constantly have to feel around hoping I get a sense for which way it's facing. Your remote may be different, that's great, but singling out the Apple Remote for this issue is less than accurate.
  • You’re missing it completely. The bottom end feels like the top. I don’t know how many times I’ve picked mine up and tried using the trackpad only to be swiping on the other end of the remote. It sucks, and Phil is correct. That was actually entertaining
  • I agree!
  • fanboi brigade alert
  • I’ve got three of the older Harmony Ultimate models and I love them. The only things I like better on the Elite is button placement. I’m sure it’s faster too. That being said, the one thing the Ultimate can’t do is Siri, which is why I still use the Siri remote as much, if not more than, my Ultimate remote. I’ve been using the Ultimates since before the Siri remote existed, so this can be forgiven, but the Elite remotes should have a mic to use with voice search on all the devices that support it. Once a good universal remote supports Siri, I’ll upgrade. One thing you should have mentioned though is the Siri remote app on the iPhone phone. A much cheaper alternative to buying a whole new remote.
  • Thank you for the info, interesting.