If you're new to the world of compact media centres such as the Raspberry Pi, it's easy to get caught up in all the bits and bobs you need to get it set up. Of course, having the required cables — power, HDMI, USB, etc — is mandatory, but before you splurge on a custom remote and infrared receiver, make sure your TV doesn't provide this functionality already.
Earlier this year I picked up a Raspberry Pi 2 and have it currently configured to run Raspbian and OpenELEC. Until a few days ago, I was using a mouse and keyboard to control the latter, but selecting movies and TV shows this way isn't as convenient as just picking up the remote.
More control, sure, but sometimes simpler is better... especially when it comes to relaxing in front of the box. To this end, I download a remote control app — Sybu for iOS. It's perfectly serviceable, but again, I have a TV remote that could be doing so much more.
It's then I discovered CEC. Essentially, it's a protocol that runs over HDMI that allows enabled devices to communicate with one another. Any recent TV set should support it, and it's built into the Raspberry Pi. This mean you can send commands from your basic TV remote to the Pi and support is already there if you're running OpenELEC (or any media centre distro worth its salt).
The only problem is configuring more keys. At the moment, I can only navigate menus and select items — there's no back or home button. I haven't had much success with the Kodi Keymap Editor, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I figure it out.
So, if you just need basic control over your Raspberry Pi media centre, you don't have to buy a new remote and IR module — you probably have everything you need right now!