Despite what you may have heard online, there is at least one redeeming feature of Apple TV’s divisive touchpad remote: it can be replaced. The latest alternative that more or less maintains its slim, compact footprint is from Universal Electronics and unlike other third-party Apple TV remotes, this one includes a Siri shortcut and swaps the touchpad for more physical buttons.
The name Universal Electronics might not be as common as Apple or Google, but there’s a very good chance that at some point in your life you’ve stared at the company’s logo silkscreened onto a cable or streaming box perched underneath your TV. As a result of its pedigree, the company’s Apple TV remote adds dedicated shortcut buttons for accessing an electronic live TV guide, channel up and down buttons, and expanded playback controls that now include buttons for fast-forwarding and rewinding. Some reportedly claim to “love” jumping around an episode using a touchpad, but for those frustrated by that experience, these buttons will be a welcome alternative.
Universal Electronics’ new Apple TV remote also includes both Infrared connectivity—allowing it to be programmed to control other home entertainment devices like TVs and surround sound systems—as well as Bluetooth which facilitates the transmission of Siri voice commands from the remote’s microphone to the Apple TV hardware.
There’s a catch, though. Consumers won’t actually be able to buy Universal Electronics’ solution directly. Instead, the remote will only be available from cable companies alongside the Apple TV hardware when it’s offered as a set top box solution. As a result, all the extra dead space on the remote will probably end up branded with a cable provider’s garish logo.