There’s a lot of hardware packed into the Xbox Series X, so we can all be forgiven when something goes unnoticed for a while. Especially since the console hasn’t even been released yet.
It turns out everyone with an early version of the Series X and Series S completely missed that both consoles have a secret IR blaster, so you can carry on using your old media remotes.
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This information comes from Xbox Live director of programming Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb, who is about as official a source you can get. He confirmed over Twitter that both new Xbox consoles have an IR blaster hiding inside the bind button that syncs your console to its controllers.
Xbox One Media Remotes will continue to work with Xbox Series X|S as part of our commitment that you can bring your existing accessories forward with you. The design team hid the IR receiver inside the bind button #PowerYourDreams pic.twitter.com/vNQ2FJsgRhOctober 22, 2020
Notice how the button has a glossy black look about it? It’s the same as the IR blaster on the Xbox One S and X, which let you use a more traditional infra-red remote rather than one that needed to be synced to the console. It also meant you could use a wider range of compatible third party remotes whenever you just wanted to stream or watch a movie on Blu-ray.
The inclusion on the Xbox Series X and S means you’re not going to upgrade your console and find out your old remote is incompatible and needs to be replaced. Merging the IR blaster with the bind button also means it takes up less overall space, and doesn’t interrupt the console's aesthetics with a strange black oval.
Of course if you do want to start afresh with a new remote for your new console, there is an official media remote for the Series X that will only set you back $20. Even if your old remote does still work, this new one lets you control the volume and power of your TV on top of the general browsing and playback control -- just like the PS5's official remote, which is also IR-based.
Which is a very helpful feature to have, and means you don’t need to hunt for your original TV remote just to use the Xbox.
Whatever you decide to do, this is another great example of how Microsoft is making sure the older consoles aren’t just being discarded after the launch of the Series X and S. After all, with this news, and the knowledge that all Xbox One games will be backwards compatible, the only thing the Series X is missing is Kinect. But that’s probably no huge loss.