Pros: It looks cool
Cons: Punchy buttons
I am not too impressed with the Apple Remote because it seems like a technological backstep compared to Apple’s other devices. In an effort to make it look slim and cool, the buttons are still very clunky and I found my thumb quickly tiring after scrolling through various menus. It’s still nice to have for some applications like navigating my Apple TV.
This is not a Bluetooth remote. Instead, it’s old school and uses infrared. This means you need a clear line of sight between the remote and the source, be it the Apple Universal Dock, your iMac, and so on. This is why it requires the Universal Dock for operating your iPhone or iPod because those devices don’t have an infrared port on them. It would have made more sense for Apple to make a Bluetooth remote control, but then I guess they wouldn’t be able to sucker people into buying even more gear just to control their iPod from across the room.
The body of this remote is made of aluminum and it doesn’t have any visible seams, which is kind of cool. It’s flat enough to double as a tongue depressor, and it fits well in my hand. Despite being so thin, it’s very rigid. I just wonder if Apple could have made it thicker so that the buttons aren’t so punchy. They click very loudly when pressed, and don’t respond to rapid clicks well. I sometimes find myself clicking more than once just to get one click to go through, like when I’m browsing through titles on Netflix. Scrolling through and selecting letters from an onscreen keyboard while searching is a minor nightmare.
As you can see in the photo here, it doesn’t have a lot of buttons. There’s a Menu button, a Play/Pause button, and a control wheel that has four directions plus the center is a button. You use the control wheel to navigate menus and the center button is for making selections. It works like the older model iPods (my favorite) before everything went touchscreen. I would have been much happier if the wheel menu actually worked like the wheel on the older iPods where you can touch and spin. This things gives my thumb too much of a workout.
For just $19 from Apple’s store, this remote is one of the cheaper things they offer. Just remember you need a Universal Dock to connect an iPhone or iPod, but those also include a remote. I’ve found it so uncomfortable to use that I’m still watching Netflix on my PS3 because my Bluetooth PS3 remote is so much easier and ergonomic. No way would Steve Jobs have approved this.