As Android TV is a TV based construct, the remote control is always going to be an important aspect of the user experience. After all, what good is an Android TV device if you don't have the clicker to make sure you can flip through everything? That said, as Android TV is a little more in depth then say your normal Smart TV software, the remote control actually provides much more of an important role them simply switching between Fox News and ABC. While a remote for your normal TV is generally pretty standardised in terms of its functions, you would be surprised how different they can be for Android TV devices. On a personal level, getting the remote control right could be the difference between buying a unit or not. Well, here we take a quick look at the Nexus Player Remote Vs the NVIDIA SHIELD Remote.
Some users might be saying that they don't care about how their remote looks as long as it works. That is understandable. Although, another way to look at it - the time and effort a company puts into designing your remote could be viewed as how they approach your Android TV experience overall. Therefore, getting the smaller details like the remote right, matter. First up is the Nexus Player remote. Now this is a proof-of-concept device and in truth is approaching its first-year anniversary. So without wanting to be too harsh on the Nexus Player, the remote control is not great. The design is plastic based and it feel plasticky. If you were to walk into a shop tomorrow and pick up the remote you would not be that impressed. It simply feels big (in spite of being overall quite small), it feels clunky and just feels cheap.
When it come to the SHIELD Remote, things are quite different. NVIDIA definitely took the time to make sure their remote had some design flair. Not to mention, it takes many design cues from the main unit and comes sporting a real sleek design. The remote is ultra thin (maybe even too thin) and feels equally thin when held.
OK, if you do not own a Nexus Player you are probably wondering why does volume matter and how can it be compared? Well, you would be wrong. This is probably one of the biggest gripes any Nexus Player owner will have. The Nexus Player does not offer a means of volume control by default. In fact, if you check the Nexus Player paperwork over at Google, they simply advise use of your existing TV remote for volume. Which is not only disappointing, but in some respects negates having a dedicated remote. So when it comes to volume, the Nexus Player is a two remote unit. In contrast, this was personally one of the best features that comes baked into the SHIELD Remote. Volume is there. In fact, not only is it there, but in keeping with the sleeker design, NVIDIA opted for a touch slider to control volume. There is a small groove running down the centre and you simply slide your finger up or down to control the volume. In truth, it is a little temperamental and a bit too sensitive, but it is there and a welcomed addition.
Again, you might be wondering why headphones will be in a remote control comparison, but this is again one of the highlights of the SHIELD Remote as it comes with a 3.5mm jack socket on the bottom of the remote. Therefore, you can just plug in your headphones or earphones to the remote control and game or watch movies all through the night.
OK, this is where things get a bit more complicated and it will depend more on which side of the fence you fall on. The Nexus Player remote control is strictly battery operated. So, buy some batteries, stick them in and you are good to go for the next six months. Rechargeable AA batteries, then even better. The SHIELD Remote on the other hand, is rechargeable itself. Coming with a lithium battery built in and a microUSB port on the bottom of the remote, you can just plug into any USB source (including the actual SHIELD) and charge the remote. The downside though, is the batteries do not last as long as they do in the Nexus Player remote. That said, they do seem to last about a week off a charge and do charge quite quickly (a couple of hours at most).
While the SHIELD Remote is sounding like the clear winner (and in truth, it is), this is where you might edge towards the Nexus Player option. The SHIELD Remote comes with a ton more features and is so much better designed. However, it does not come included with the SHIELD and instead is an aftermarket purchase. In fact, the remote will set you back $49.99. In contrast, the Nexus Player remote does come included when you buy the Nexus Player.
A decent remote control will significantly improve your overall Android TV experience and is one of the factors you should consider when thinking about which unit to go for. Unlike, 'normal TV', Android TV is a much more immersive TV experience and therefore you do need a better level of control and controller. In all honesty, there is no comparison between the Nexus Player option and the SHIELD Remote. The SHIELD option is just significantly better and is a joy to use compared to the Nexus Player alternative. It is more functional, more user intuitive and much prettier to look at. On the downside, it does not come free like the Nexus Player option does. If you care about your remote, then the SHIELD is the way to go.