Apple makes all kinds of great stuff. Phones. Computers. Hype. Legions of fans who make the alternative realities of partisan politics look like child's play.
What it did not make and still does not make is a good remote control for Apple TV. I'm on record saying that from way back when, and it's as true today as it was back then. The Super Siri Voice Remote (most of that name is accurate, anyway) is not a good remote control.
And so it's more than a little astounding to see that OnePlus has ripped it off as blatantly as it has for the upcoming OnePlus TV.
Consider, for a moment, the Twitter unveiling from OnePlus co-founder and CEO Pete Lau:
Side by side with the Apple TV remote (I'm not calling it a Siri remote because I'm a grown-ass man), a few things are pretty obvious.
First is the shape. It's flat, with rounded corners. It looks pretty sleek in promo pictures. In the hand, though, the OnePlus remote is almost certain to be as shapeless and uncomfortable to hold as the Apple TV remote. Your hand is curved. It's meant to hug things. To wrap around in a loving embrace.
What you'll get with this is pressure from the sides, which are the only parts that'll actually touch your hands. There's far more surface area on the bottom of the remote. But you'll never know it because it'll never touch your palm.
Then there's the charging port on the remote. It's USB-C, which is good. All new products should use USB-C. But the fact that it's rechargeable is a pretty good sign that you're going to, ya know, need to charge it. Meanwhile, the replaceable button battery in my venerable Logitech Harmony Companion — which still is the most shapely tech product in my home — has yet to need replacing. It just works. Give me a replaceable battery that far outlasts rechargeable any day of the week.
The buttons? OK, I'll withhold judgment on that one, for now. Flat buttons on a flat remote are OK. Not great, perhaps, but good enough. The volume rocker on the side of a thin, flat, shapeless remote are another story, though. Chances are they're going to awkward to hit for a lot of folks. Better is something you can get your thumb on.
And I'm absolutely willing to put money on the OnePlus remote's directional pad being better than the space-age trackpad thing that's clunked up the Apple TV remote for so long. It was a cool idea, but practically speaking there's no need for a trackpad there — especially one as finicky and inaccurate as what Apple did. Simple up-down-left-right-select works just fine, thank you very much.
Am I picking nits here? You're damn right I am. But if we've learned anything the past few years, it's that smaller remote controls aren't always better. It's that thinner remote controls aren't always better. And that when OnePlus says "Never settle," you're going to be settling on something.
In this case? OnePlus has outright aped one of the worst products Apple has unleashed on us in recent memory. I'd place it perhaps second on a list of sins. What leads that category? Making us think that such a product is perfect as-is.
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