Microsoft has a near miss with the Xbox One Media Remote

Regular readers will of course be familiar with my Xbox: Fail from January, and I thought a little update was in order.

To get something out-of-the-way, the February and March updates did nothing noticeable to improve voice recognition.  I did recalibrate after the February update, but not after the one in March.  Maybe I’ll try again after the April update.  And it appears to me that one of the updates degraded facial recognition as much of the time my Xbox One isn’t recognizing me and automatically logging in.  To put a short summary on it, the experience is no better than when I wrote the piece in January.

And to say something positive, I love that Microsoft added music videos to the Xbox Music app on the Xbox One.  We had company for the weekend and Saturday night we all stayed up past midnight finding favorite music videos.  On the few we couldn’t find on Xbox Music I found them on the web and put them up on our 55″ using Miracast from my Lumia 2520.  That worked flawlessly too.  Especially watching the launch of MTV.  Coverage of the first launch of the Space Shuttle is way cooler than any music video :-)  And Video killed the radio star is a terrible song, even if it was perfectly appropriate as MTV’s first music video.

One thing I called for in the January piece was a Media Remote, and Microsoft has obliged with that.  I really like it, and if it weren’t for one major design flaw I would have titled this post “Xbox One Media Remote saved my marriage”.  That major design flaw?  The Xbox One Media Remote uses IR rather than RF to control the Xbox One.  That’s a problem for me because the Xbox One is in a cabinet, with a door blocking IR signals.

Given that the Xbox One come out of the box working with RF-based game controllers I never would have guessed that they’d use IR for the Media Remote.  Why not just have it use the same RF communications channel?  I hate IR.  It is the 80-column card of the A/V industry.  Except 80-column cards were a good idea in their time while I’m not convinced IR was ever a good idea.  In either case, their times have passed!

Dear Xbox team, wait until you see the blog post when one of my dogs crashes into the open door and breaks it off the built-in cabinet.  Wait until I send Satya the bill and demand payment in Hyderabadi Biryani, which I will do.  Seriously.

Anyway now I do open the cabinet door to consume media on the Xbox One.  This makes my wife happy because she interprets the voice commands about as accurately as the Xbox.  For example, I say “Xbox Select” and the Xbox displays a message about something else not being valid in the current context, if it hears me at all.  My wife interprets “Xbox Select” as “Dial Divorce Lawyer”.  Fortunately she tunes me out even better than the Xbox though I try not to press my luck.  So I no longer talk to the Xbox.

Meanwhile with the cabinet door perfectly positioned to absorb the shock of a Bernese Mountain Dog that is blissfully unaware that the U.S. Government has classified her as a weapon of mass destruction, I happily select apps, perform searches, play and pause media, etc. on the Media Remote.  It’s an accessory that I recommend to anyone who is going to regularly use their Xbox One for video.

What about installing (another, actually) IR repeater so I don’t have to leave the cabinet door open?  I suppose I will eventually.  But I hate IR, and I love Hyderabadi Biryani.

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9 Responses to Microsoft has a near miss with the Xbox One Media Remote

  1. JimmyFal says:

    I do love the remote also, an input button would be nice, but then they would be admitting that we need to still do that to get to miracast devices etc. (p2tv 3000). Wouldn’t it be cool if it had a microphone inside of it, so you could just speak in to it instead of across the room to the Kinect? Hope you regularly tune your Kinect Hal I have very very good luck with my voice recognition, but it certainly won’t fly nicely with lots of extra people in the room. Also just got some updates last night and profile recognition is much better although it still takes 8 seconds to launch the Music app.

  2. halberenson says:

    Yes, an Input selector would be awesome. I have an HDMI splitter installed so my wife doesn’t have to deal with the Xbox. But it does mean I have to keep the TV (rather than DirecTV) remote out so I can switch inputs. I’d love to be able to use the XOMR for that. I also like the microphone idea as that would at least reduce the need to raise my voice.

    • Brian says:

      You can program your DTV remote with the brand of your TV. At that point, you can use it to switch inputs (one of the buttons in the upper-left of the remote). It works with both of our TVs (a 10-ish year old Toshiba and a 5-ish year old Samsung)

  3. So some good news– after a similar frustration with it on my own XB1, Xbox Facial Recognition is near instant in the latest March/April Preview update from this past weekend. In fact, after months of signing in by remote, it has successfully signed me in 8 consecutive times since updating on Saturday morning. There may be hope!

  4. LossofGravity says:

    All you need is a $10 Standard IR extender cable which the Xbox One has a port for in the back. Run the wire to inside the cabinet, no more flaw. Hope this helps, and btw I love my media remote too. =)

  5. Pingback: @WinObs Tweeted Links for March 24, 2014 | WindowsObserver.com Wiki

  6. Eolirin says:

    The Kinect should be able to read the IR signal, no?

    Also, it’s a shame voice isn’t working for you. Is your Kinect near a source of vibration? You might even have one with a defective microphone array. Otherwise it’s an accent problem. Feb update fixed both Xbox On and Xbox Pause for me, and those were the only two I was having issue with. I’m getting 99% hit rates on both now. When voice works it’s great.

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