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Editors' note: Since the release of the PS3 Blu-ray remote, several IR solutions have surfaced. We've taken a look at one of these, the Nyko Blue-wave IR remote, and seems to be an even better solution for Blu-ray and DVD playback control. As a result, we've lowered the rating of this model accordingly.
Truth be told, the is currently the Blu-ray player we use to test a lot of the HDTVs we get in for review here at CNET. As potentially higher performance Blu-ray players come out, that may change, but right now the PS3 is one of the best Blu-ray players on the market. As frequent Blu-ray viewers, we're perfect candidates to test out the remote that's designed for PS3 movie watching, the Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray DVD Remote ($25).
The remote, like the wireless game controller that comes with the system, features Bluetooth wireless connectivity. In fact, it behaves just like a Sony wireless game controller would, except you have to manually pair it to the system via the accessories link in the settings menu (it uses port number seven). However, once you've paired it, you shouldn't have to worry about doing it again.
There are certain advantages to Bluetooth technology, the biggest of which is you don't have to deal with the line-of-sight issues you encounter with IR (infrared). For example, we pointed the remote in the opposite direction with our back to the system, and it still worked fine. The remote also is very responsive with virtually no lag time between button press and onscreen action.
The only problem--and call this an editorial aside--is that if you're trying to control all your components with a universal remote such as a Logitech Harmony model, the PS3 isn't compatible because Sony conveniently decided to leave off an IR port. (Admittedly, that's a shortfall of the PS3 itself, not the remote reviewed here.) Hopefully, the company--or a third-party vendor--will rectify this annoying situation by putting out some sort of IR USB dongle that allows you to control the PS3 with an infrared remote. If that little dongle cost $20, Sony (or Logitech, or whoever) would find plenty of buyers. But we digress. Back to the review.
All in all, there isn't a whole lot to complain about. This is a perfectly decent remote that is attractively styled with a generally well-thought-out button layout and design. (In fact, the ergonomics and design are notably superior to the DVD remote that Sony released for PS2.) The color-coded red, green, blue, and yellow buttons are designed to match upcoming "soft keys" within the Blu-ray menu system. The most-used buttons (play, stop, and pause) are larger than the rest of the keys and set in the middle of remote. You should be able to navigate those keys just fine by touch, but accessing some of the other buttons in the dark by feel alone will be more difficult. Unfortunately--and this is our biggest gripe--the remote isn't backlit. And, obviously, it's limited to controlling the PS3, so you'll have to use another remote to raise and lower the volume of your TV or A/V system.
The 8.5x2.0x1.0 inch (HWD) controller is powered by two AA batteries, which should last a fairly long time because the remote has no LCD screen (Sony doesn't offer a battery life rating). We did appreciate that the PS3 offers the same small onscreen, three-bar icon that the game controllers utilize; it lets you know when you're starting to run low on juice. Furthermore, the remote works fine for navigating all of the other PS3's menus--the combination of the directional pad and the signature cross, circle, square, and triangle buttons let you enter any of the menus to access all of the other media (music, movie trailers, and so forth) that the PS3 offers. Just don't expect to use it to play any games.
As with the game controller, you also can turn the system on and off using the key adorned with the PlayStation logo. Additionally, if your PS3 is off, you can hit any key on the remote and it will power on. That's nice, but it also increases the odds that you--or someone else in your household--might accidentally hit a key and turn on the PS3. (It was unclear whether leaving the system on for long periods would affect battery life on the remote or not.)
With a street price of $25, the Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray DVD Remote is reasonably priced. We're just annoyed that its only reason for existence is Sony's ridiculous omission of an IR port on the PS3 to begin with. If you're asking yourself whether it's worth buying one over say an extra, wireless game controller ($50), that answer will depend on how much you plan on using the PS3 as a movie-watching machine. As it is, once you get used to using the wireless game controller as a remote for Blu-ray and DVD playback, it's actually pretty decent. The remote simply makes accessing certain features and menus easier and faster. And it also makes you think you're really operating a home-theater component rather than a game machine. If that little bit of extra convenience appeals to you, by all means, pick this up.