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Product Review: Remotext Remote Control/Keyboard

Hyperkin’s Remotext is designed to be everything to everyone: gaming controller, media remote, and full QWERTY keyboard. Unfortunately, certain design flaws hinder Remotext’s performance in the first two areas. And as the controller is really only successful as a keyboard, it’s difficult to recommend this product to anyone who wants more than a mini keyboard.

Remotext is light – perhaps lighter than Sony’s media remote – and I appreciate the rubberized texture of the remote. Oriented vertically, Remotext looks like a typical media remote with readily accessible buttons for play, pause, fast-forward, and so on. Oriented horizontally, Remotext could be used as a gaming controller. It sports the typical face buttons, d-pad, and two analog nubs. Your DualShock controllers needn’t fear for their place in your household, though, as it’s exceptionally difficult to play games with Remotext for a number of reasons: It’s awkward to hold Remotext for any length of time (it’s shaped like an NES controller with four times as many buttons). The analog nubs are stiff, unresponsive, and lack the L3/R3 click functionality. The only shoulder buttons present are L2/R2. L1/R1 are mapped to “previous/next chapter” on the vertically-oriented media remote portion of the layout, so these buttons that should be shoulder buttons are very difficult to reach.

When used as a media remote, Remotext is perfectly serviceable. All of the most useful buttons are immediately accessible, and the remote isn’t cluttered with hoards of useless buttons, like Sony’s PS3-branded media remote. Still, I sometimes have to press a button twice before it registers, and some of the hard plastic pieces (most notably the analog nubs) have a tacky bevel of sharpish plastic that one would probably do well to sand down before use. Such design touches lower my expectations of the product. Also, whether I hold the remote in my left hand or right hand, I invariably accidentally depress the R2 shoulder button, which hasn’t done anything undesirable so far (like exit Netflix, or cause a blu-ray disc to self-destruct), but it’s annoying to click frequently an unintended button.

The best feature of Remotext is its face’s ability to slide upward to reveal a hidden QWERTY keyboard. It’s nice to have a keyboard: I use it for searching for movies via the PS3’s Netflix interface and occasionally for messaging friends. If I still hung out in my Fat Princess clan’s private text chat room, well, the Remotext would be invaluable there as well. (Yes, I used to be in a Fat Princess clan – just one of my many manly qualities that have all the girls in a tizzy.) So I appreciate the keyboard, but again, I have some complaints about it: The keys are tiny, tiny, tiny, and rather stiff. Now, I’m no ballerina, but I would hazard that even those who have digits that are more slender and elegant than mine might occasionally punch an unintended key on this pad.

A few final gripes: First, this controller does not support Bluetooth. It requires a USB dongle to function. This could well be a deal-breaker for many, especially those with the PS3 Slims, which sport only two USB ports natively.

Second, Remotext registers with the system as a game controller rather than as a media controller. I have my system set up to automatically turn off gaming controllers after ten minutes of inactivity, so Remotext is likewise turned off. I was annoyed a number of times as I watched a movie and tried to pause with my Remotext, only to recall that, of course, the system had turned off the controller, so I’d have to spend a few seconds resyncing the controller before I could pause. Sure, I could change my system settings, but all things considered, I’d just as soon stick to my Sony PS3 media remote, which doesn’t have a similar issue.

Third, Remotext charges via mini-USB just like a typical gaming controller. But the system doesn’t register Remotext’s battery life, and the controller itself has no indication of its charge, either, so Remotext might well run out of juice unexpectedly.

In sum, if you are on the market for a small (well, tiny) wireless keyboard for your PS3, and you don’t mind devoting a USB port to the device, then Remotext may well be a good option for you. If you principally want a media remote (or a gaming controller!), then I’d advise you to keep shopping around. With an MSRP of 30 USD, Remotext’s price isn’t unreasonable, but it’s value would have been much higher if it did certain things better. In fact, I’d suggest to the manufacturers that they drop the gaming controller abilities entirely and devote whatever resources are thus freed up to increasing the quality of the product’s construction. Remotext would be great if it were just a well-designed and well-manufactured media remote / keyboard hybrid.

[review pros=”Miniature wireless keyboard
Small and lightweight” cons=”Unresponsive buttons
Indifferent workmanship
Requires dedicated USB receiver
Keyboard buttons are a bit small” score=50]

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Remotext provided by Hyperkin.