Having changed laptops reciontly i find im really missing a remote control. i used to use a Dell Vostro 1700 which had media buttons onthe front and a little IR remote control. i didnt realise how much i used those buttons. having changed machines i dont have them anymore and now use a bluetooth keyboard. Microsoft Bluetooth® Mobile Keyboard 6000 | Microsoft Hardware and it has no media buttons on it.
If you have a smartphone then remote control using that is popular these days.
Bluetooth has a standard audio/video remote control profile (AVRCP) and I believe most default bluetooth drivers support this so you may find that any bluetooth remote control will work and it doesn't have to be a PC specific one. I don't have any experience with that though, so try it first or do a bit more research before committing.
Alternatively, just install macro software and set up some of the keyboard buttons to double as volume buttons, I do this myself and have AltGr+Up/Down/End as Volume Up/Down/Mute.