Best Universal Remotes - Control Your Home Theater
Last updated: 9 October, 2021
If we broke down a typical hour of entertainment in 2019, it would probably look like this: 20-25% of the time spent juggling countless controllers like a circus clown, frantically searching for the right one, finally finding it, and finally finding it.
Realize that to do a basic thing with, apparently, you need a computer science degree. The remaining 75-80% of the time is spent watching the show you wanted.
This is not fair, especially since all these services and devices promise you a “seamless” integration into your installation and great ease of use.
When you gaze at the sea of remotes on your coffee table, utterly disoriented, you realize that all of this is anything but transparent and effortless.
Fortunately, there really is a way to smoothly and effortlessly link these various, often competing services and devices together, eliminate the sea of remotes and regain the surveillance time you constantly waste.
The solution ? A universal remote control.
Okay, before you get into that sentence. The universal remotes we're talking about in 2019 have nothing to do with the dreadful and unsightly monstrosities of yesteryear that often made things more complicated by having more buttons, switches, and options than a Boeing 747 cockpit.
The embodiment of universal remote controls are sleek, sophisticated and easy to use.
Well, not all of them. We've sifted through hundreds of remotes to find the nine best universal remotes that actually exist, and we're going to introduce them to you below.
1. Logitech Harmony Companion All in One Remote - Best Overall
- Dimensions: 10 x 5.4 x 3.5 inches
- Weight: 3.9 ounces
Be smarter by switching to Logitech Harmony Companion to make the most of your home entertainment experiences and allow your smartphone to single-handedly control the many remotes it has had to struggle with in the past.
This remote lets you customize a lot of device activities including movie night and date night that will take you to higher heights and increase your comfort and convenience.
All your gadgets such as thermostat, locks and lights can now be precisely programmed and activated to work together in synchronous harmony at the push of a button.
You can also turn on multiple devices and create custom schedules or activate them using sensors.
Wherever your devices are hidden in the house, they can be accessed by this remote using the Harmony smartphone or the tablet app using Wi-Fi, IR or Bluetooth wireless signals; or even Amazon Alexa for integrated voice commands.
All you need is the initial online or mobile setup and you're good to go. There is no limit to the number of home automation devices it can control.
This tool allows you to control up to eight different home entertainment devices.
It quickly turns your iOS and Android smartphones and tablets into instant universal personal remote controls.
2. Logitech Harmony Smart Control - All in One
- Dimensions: 10.04 x 5.43 x 3.5 inches
- Weight: 0.634 ounces
The Logitech Harmony Smart Control comes with a receiver called the Harmony Hub that turns RF signals from the remote into IR or Bluetooth commands that your devices can understand.
The remote lets you control up to 8 devices, including your Ps3 and Wii, as well as streaming services like Netflix.
270,000 devices are supported by more than 6,000 brands. So there's a good chance that whatever device you have in your home will be recognized by this system right off the bat.
And the Logitech Harmony Device Library makes it easy to update your smartphone app and universal remote with new devices and controls.
If for some reason you don't want to use the Harmony remote that came with the package, or if you want to give more than one person in the house the ability to control the media at the same time as you.
Then you have to. luck. The system allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet, whether Android or iOS, to download a proprietary Logitech app and turn their device into a full-fledged universal remote.
Pretty cool. Be sure to check out our list of the best streaming sticks for more great articles like this.
3. Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote - Remote Control
- Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 0.6 inches
- Weight: 12 ounces
Logitech Harmony's elite are ridiculously powerful. It allows you to effortlessly control up to 15 connected devices.
It not only allows you to control entertainment devices and services, but you can also connect it to almost any device in the "internet of things".
Allowing you to control the music in the kitchen or the lights in the room. The living room. And yes, it is fully compatible with Amazon Alexa.
And when it comes to controlling things with this remote, you don't have to limit yourself to buttons. The remote control has a very thin and elegant touchscreen and also allows voice control.
Control one device at a time? It's so 2008. The Logitech Harmony Elite lets you group your devices into one touch activity. For example, once everything is set up, you should be able to touch "watch a movie" on the touchscreen of the universal remote.
Your chosen movie viewing app will automatically open and adjust to the setting you want. Pretty cool.
The touchscreen also makes it very intuitive to forward, rewind and adjust the volume while you watch.
The universal remote also has a hub called a "harmony hub", which means you don't have to point the remote directly at the device you want to control to operate it.
Anyone who visits you is sure to think that you have special powers.
Finally, the remote control is supplied with the "Harmony application" which allows you to transform your smartphone or your iOS or Android tablet into a controller. Damn, that's cool.
4. Logitech Harmony Express Universal Voice Remote - Voice Remote
- Dimensions: 5.18 x 1.79 x 0.52 inches
- Weight: 2.01 ounces
Controlling your home entertainment devices can never be faster with Harmony Express.
If you're the type of person who wants to use your smart remote in a simple and straightforward way, but get the most out of it, then the Harmony Express with Alexa already built-in and voice command feature is the right one.
Different devices from different manufacturers are easily supported and synchronized and are seamlessly integrated into this remote control.
It is also easy to configure and use -; just turn on all your devices, launch popular apps, or switch to your favorite TV channel right away.
No need to remember all the many devices or inputs, or worry about which settings to use.
If the remote control disappears, it is not necessary to start crouching under the furniture and turning things over.
The mobile app can be used to trigger an alarm to easily locate the remote control.
The complete set comes with the remote control as well as a rechargeable battery, blaster, mini IR blaster, USB cable, AC adapter and user documentation.
It weighs 2.08 ounces and measures 5.2 × 1.8 × 0.5 inches.
5. Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote - Programmable Remote
- Dimensions: 10.79 x 1.61 x 5.75 inches
- Weight: 6.7 ounces
The Logitech Harmony 650 effortlessly combines up to eight remotes into one. One of the main features of the remote is a color touchscreen, which Logitech calls a “color control screen”.
The screen features programmable "favorite channel" icons that allow you to quickly switch to the channels you like most with just one touch.
The screen also displays common commands for all the devices you use, hence the name.
The Harmony 650 also has handy "one-click activity buttons" that you can program with commands such as "watch DVD" and "listen to music", taking you to your favorite app with preferred settings. for each of these actions.
It works seamlessly with over 5,000 electronics brands and has an online database of 225,000 devices, with more being added every day.
So you can be sure that this universal remote will work with anything you throw at it.
Although at first glance the Harmony 650 looks a bit complicated, you'll be happy to know that it's remarkably easy to set up thanks to the online Quick Setup software.
That's why it's the top pick on our list of the best universal remotes. Check out our guide to the best smart home devices and find other products that will improve your home.
6. Inteset INT-422 Universal remote control - Best 4 in 1
- Dimensions: 7 x 1.5 x 1 inches
- Weight: 5.6 ounces
Then we have the Inteset INT-422 which is touted as the "first universal remote control dedicated to streamers".
To support this claim, the top of the remote has four preprogrammed buttons: an "A" button for Apple TV, a "B" button for Xbox One, a "C" button for Media Center, and finally a "D" button for Roku.
But don't worry, the remote is also compatible with 10,000 other devices, including Xbox 360, Fire TV, and Kodi.
It's worth noting that unlike the universal remote reviewed above which has a touchscreen and buttons i.e. multiple inputs, this one is heavy on buttons.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing as we'll explain. This Intesetremote has a smart button mapping feature that allows you to mimic the button commands of an original device (e.g. a Roku remote) on the Inteset remote.
In addition, you can program up to 32 commands in a single button. It's crazy.
So, although there are a lot of buttons, they are all fully customizable, allowing you to create the most comfortable, useful and accessible universal remote control for your specific and personal needs.
It's understandable that looking at a remote control with so many buttons, one can assume that the installation will be complex and tedious.
Fortunately, this is not the case. The universal remote has a handy online tool that makes it very easy to configure the buttons and configure your remote exactly the way you want it.
It also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, namely: volume, channel and identity lock.
7. Logitech Harmony 350 - Control of Up To 8
- Dimensions: 1.3 x 2.4 x 8.8 inches
- Weight: 7 ounces
The Logitech Harmony 350 intelligently combines up to 8 remotes into one that includes remotes for your DVR, TV, cable box, sound system ... you have the picture.
Oh, and if you think your devices won't be supported, you're probably wrong because the Logitech Harmony 350 supports over 270,000 devices and new devices are added every day.
The Logitech Harmony 350 does not have a display but has 5 programmable favorite buttons that let you jump to your favorite channels in milliseconds.
This remote may be lighter in weight than the previous ones, but what it does it does well and is a respectable entry into the world of universal remote controls.
Make sure to keep it clean and nice with some of the best tech maintenance products on our list.
8. RCA RCR503BZ Universal Remote - Palm-Sized
- Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.5 x 11 inches
- Weight: 3.88 ounces
For those of you who are looking for convenience and a small size rather than a large number of features, this is the universal remote you need. It has an attractive hand size and is comfortable to hold.
This little thing can control up to three devices and effortlessly replaces and consolidates the most popular brands of remote controls.
And adding new remotes to this stuff is easy as pie. You can use automatic, manual, or direct code search methods to find all of your damn remotes and insert them into this device.
We'd be lying if we said the RCA RCR503BZ is as feature packed as the Logitech Harmony Elite.
But its lack of features gives it an advantage that most other remotes don't, which is complete simplicity and ease of use.
Ease of Use - A quality universal remote control doesn't have to have complicated functions or buttons.
Rather, tabs and functions should be clear and unambiguous, and the remote should be compatible with other devices in the coverage area.
Design - The design of the preferred remote control is simple, clean and easily fits in the palm of the hand since it is hand-held and finger-controlled.
In addition, it must be able to be used with one hand.
Touchscreen - While some universal remotes can be used without a touchscreen, most newer models have the touchscreen capability.
This allows for easy and convenient maneuverability and versatility for all functions, as well as the ability to see the available choices on the screen.
Features - Besides performing simple tasks like increasing and decreasing volume and changing channels, a good universal remote control should have more advanced functions for sound, voice, picture and other settings.
Button Layout - The button layout should be logical and systematic to conform as much as possible to the existing conventional and universal alphanumeric system.
Backlight - Although not all universal remotes have this feature, it helps locate and identify every button, even in complete darkness.
It also gives a superior aesthetic appeal to the remote control.
Types of universal remote controls
Touch Screen Control - In this type of system, all functions and features are manipulated by means of a swipe on the remote control interface or a gentle press on the tabs to perform the required effects.
Programmable Wifi Enabled PC - This system allows you to control your smart devices such as locks, lights and thermostat through a home network.
Radio Frequency - In this system you have the ability to control devices that are locked behind or inside cabinets or that are obstructed in some other way.
How to use universal remotes?
What are the advantages of a universal remote control?
What is the best universal remote control?
Ultimately, it should make the operation of your home entertainment system and other home facilities much easier and less stressful.
THE TEAM THAT WORKED ON THIS REVIEW
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- Comparison Table
- Best Overall Logitech Harmony Companion All in One Remote
- All in One Logitech Harmony Smart Control
- Remote Control Logitech Harmony Elite Universal Remote
- Voice Remote Logitech Harmony Express Universal Voice Remote
- Programmable Remote Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote
- Best 4 in 1 Inteset INT-422 Universal remote control
- Control of Up To 8 Logitech Harmony 350
- Palm-Sized RCA RCR503BZ Universal Remote
- Buying Guide