Kinect on the Xbox One is... imperfect, at best. Voice controls, when they work, are just awesome. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. While Microsoft has slowly been improving Kinect support, it just doesn't always work.
And when voice commands don't work, you get frustrated. You pick up the controller but now have to wait for it to turn on. So what are your other options?
Besides throwing your Kinect out the window in anger, you could get the Xbox One Media Remote. It's a tiny little remote control that works specifically with Kinect to make your media playback experience a lot better.
The remote itself is pretty simple. You've got all your major buttons for navigation as well as video playback. One thing to note is that the remote itself is not intended to replace a controller. You won't find any of the ABYX buttons anywhere on this remote.
Setup is also simple, you just plop in the included AAA batteries and point it at your Xbox. It's that simple. Something to note: This will require the Kinect (or an IR sensor plugged into the Xbox) to work. Any TV controls also require your Kinect, such as the volume controls.
Once you've got it powered on, the remote allows you to navigate using the circular D-Pad, select with the inner circle, and perform your typical remote control tasks. Assuming your TV is setup with the Kinect, you can change the volume with this remote as well as change the channel on your cable box. If you aren't in your cable box, the channel up / down buttons can be used to navigate through pages on the dashboard or in the store.
My favorite feature of the remote is the OneGuide button. This allows you to access the OneGuide button from anywhere, meaning you can pull up TV listings with the click of a button - rather than screaming at your TV. Once there, you can select the channel you want to watch and the Xbox immediately pops open the TV app and changes your cable box to that channel. Simple!
Finally, the remote has an auto-lighting feature which automatically lights up the remote any time you pick it up. This really helps you find buttons in the dark and removes the need for a glow-in-the-dark button some remotes tend to have. It's a really cool feature and I'm surprised it's not mentioned a lot elsewhere.
Design - 5/5
The Media Remote feels great in the hand and is big enough that you (hopefully) won't lose it, yet small enough to not take up a ton of space. The soft-touch finish also makes it comfortable to hold and handle. The buttons are easy to access and are a breeze to use. The auto-lighting when you move the remote is also a simple, yet really cool feature.
Functionality - 5/5
The remote itself is fantastic. Everything is incredibly responsive and quick when navigating with the remote. It eliminates the need to pick up a controller when the Kinect doesn't work without the need to connect to the console. Setup is simple and easy and amounts to putting two AAA batteries into the compartment and pointing it at your Kinect.
Overall - 5/5
The Xbox One Media Remote seems like it should have been a pack in - at least in the Day One edition systems. The Kinect is great, and I really hope it gets better. However, it's not exactly a perfect product in its current state. Because of that, something like the media remote is almost necessary - unless you enjoy waiting for controllers to turn on.
It does it's job very well. For those complaining that it lacks the ABYX buttons, it is called a media remote for a reason. Most, if not all, of the media functionality on the Xbox One can be accomplished with ease using this remote. It's a great little product for a pretty decent price - it would have just been nice to see it as a pack in for early adopters!