I wasn’t a fan of the original Siri Remote for the Apple TV set-top box. However, I do like the revamped version introduced in May 2021.
Alas, some folks don’t like the newer version. For them, I’d recommend the US$29.99 Button Remote for Apple TV from FUNCTION. I still prefer the newer Siri Remote, but FUNCTION’s product is a viable and less expensive (about half the price of Apple’s offering).
The Button Remote will especially appeal to folks used to traditional remote controls and to those who like heftier control devices. It’s half again as long and about twice as thick as the Siri Remote.
The FUNCTION device, made of black plastic, boasts more buttons than Apple’s remote. There are dedicated fast forward and rewind, skip forward and back, and stop buttons, as well as mute (yay!) and channel/page up and down buttons. There’s no swipe pad; you get a standard four-direction input with the “OK” button in the middle.
The Button Remote’s infrared technology (IR) will allow you to quickly synchronize the remote control with your Apple TV to control power, volume, and mute functions. However, it will require a almost-straight-line-of-site due to its dependence on IR, whereas the Siri Remote uses Bluetooth connectivity so is more flexible.
There are some features you’ll have to learn to live without if you switch from Apple’s remote to the Button Remote. Mainly, it lacks a a microphone so you can’t use it to summon Siri.
There’s also no TV button. If you want to return directly to the Home screen, you’ll have to hold the Menu button down for a couple seconds. What’s more, you’ll have to long-press the Menu button to send the TV button input since there’s no way to “double-click” the TV button, which is how you would bring up the app switcher with the Siri Remote. If you need to do that (to, for instance, force-close an app), you’ll have to use your Siri Remote. And, of course, having to have two remotes at your beck and call is a bit of an inconvenience.
The Button Remote uses a pair of AAA batteries rather than using a Lightning port for recharging. Since the Siri Remote runs a LONG time on a single charge, I like the Lightning port for recharging, but others will prefer the convenience of AAA batteries.
Finally, I found it odd that the Button Remote didn’t come with an sort of instruction manual. Thankfully, there’s a business card-sized “quick start” that provides most of the basics, though you may need a magnifying class to read the extremely small print. guide the size of a business card that is printed in a font that is too small and fuzzy to read. However, there is a well-written support page by FUNCTION.
If you can give without using Siri and can adapt to its quirks, the Button Remote is a good accessory for an Apple TV. However, if you like all the features it provides, stick with the Siri Remote.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★.5