Reducing the number of remotes one uses is a difficult task for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners because, apart from the pricey Logitech Harmony remotes, most unisversal remotes can’t even communicate with these streaming devices, yet alone replicate all of the included remote’s functionality. Instead of replacing your Fire TV Stick remote, the PiggyBack Remote by Mission Cables adds universal remote functionality to your exsiting remote. This allows you to control common functions like turning on/off your TV, changing the selected input, and adjusting the volume directly from your Fire TV Stick remote. I picked one up to see if it can effectively reduce the clutter of keeping multiple remotes around and was pleasantly surprised to find that it does a great job at an affordable price.
The PiggyBack Remote is a simple product that adds five programmable buttons to the bottom of a Fire TV Stick non-voice remote. A sixth button on the device, which lights up, is used to program the other five buttons. The PiggyBack Remote can learn and replicate the functionality of any IR remote you already own. Unfortunately, due to the remote’s unique design, it is not compatible with voice remotes.
It ingeniously attaches to the Fire TV Stick remote by replacing the battery door that comes with the remote. It fits as well as the original door without any rattle or movement. My only concern is with how long it will be before the the small tab, just below the IR LED, either wears down or breaks from repeatedly removing the PiggyBack Remote to change the Fire TV Stick remote’s batteries. With the original battery door, you can press down on the top-center of the battery door to depress the catch tab just enough to slide the door off smoothly. With the PiggyBack Remote, you cannot pess on it in a way that will depress the catch tab, so you have to just forcefully pull back until the tab breaks away with a disconcerting snapping sound.
The add-on remote uses a CR2032 lithium coin battery that comes included. It would have been great if it somehow tapped into the Fire TV Stick remote’s two AAA batteries for power, but as long as you don’t inadvertently leave the add-on remote’s buttons pressed down, like wedged between your couch cushions, the button cell battery should last quite a while.
Programming the PiggyBack Remote is a breeze. You simply hold down the learning button for 6 six seconds until it lights up solid. Then you press the button on the PiggyBack Remote that you want to program, point your remote that is being replaced at the front of the PiggyBack Remote, and press the button on the remote being replaced that you want the PiggyBack Remote to replicate. Repeat the process, for the other four buttons on the PiggyBack Remotes and you’re done.
The five programmable buttons on the PiggyBack Remote are labeled with icons that denote power, input, and volume up/down/mute, but these buttons can be programmed to replicate any function from your original IR remote, regardless of the button’s icon. Additionally, the five programmable buttons can be programmed using multiple remotes you own. Meaning, you can set the power and input to replicate those functions from your TV remote, and set the volume buttons to replicate volume functions from your A/V receiver’s remote if you’d like. I hardly ever change inputs or mute the volume myself, so I programmed those buttons on the PiggyBack Remote to replicate two random buttons from a remote I no longer use. I then used those buttons to program my FLIRC USB Receiver to read the buttons as STOP and INFO, which I use often within apps like Kodi.
I was initially concerned that the PiggyBack Remote would ruin the Fire TV Stick remote’s ergonomics and make it feel clunky in the hand, but the opposite actually happened. I have big hands so I never liked the daintiness of the tiny Fire TV Stick remote. The PiggyBack Remote, by just about doubling the thickness of the Fire TV Stick remote, actually provides a solid place to grip the remote and gives my index finger a nice place to rest, just in front of the IR LED. I originally tried getting used to pressing the PiggyBack Remote’s buttons blind while they were facing down, but I found that my fingers kept blocking the IR LED, so it’s a lot easier to simply flip the remote over when needing to press the PiggyBack Remote’s buttons. Functionally, the PiggyBack Remote worked perfectly with my TV, A/V Receiver, and FLIRC. I noticed no difference whatsoever using it instead of the remotes that came with my gear.
While the PiggyBack Remote is nothing more than the guts of a mini universal remote in a sleek housing that has been customized specifically for the Fire TV Stick remote, it achieves its goal of adding universally programable buttons to the remote you likely use the most, and it does so in an elegant way. I prefer the way Sideclick Remotes place buttons along the side of the Fire TV remote, but with the PiggyBack Remote being half the price, a money concious buyer who doesn’t care about the Sideclick’s future-proof clip mechanism will probably be just as happy buying the PiggyBack Remote.
I personally don’t need the PiggyBack Remote that I just reviewed because I use voice remotes with all of my Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks, so I will be giving away the PiggyBack Remote. If you’d like to enter the giveaway, just like my Facebook page and share the post about this review publicly. I’ll select one person, who shared the post, at random during this week’s AFTVnewscast episode and contact them for their shipping address.