Best Universal Remotes 2022

We’ve spent dozens of hours devouring the powers of these magic sticks to give you our recommendations for the top 5 universal remotes. Our information literally puts the power in your hands.

Best overall

Universal Remote MX–990 Complete Control™


Price: 
$393.22

Best value

SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote Contol

Price: 
$49.99

Best for a budget

Inteset 4-in-1 Learning Remote

Price: 
$25.95

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Update: Logitech’s Harmony remotes have topped our Best Universal Remotes list the last few years. As of November 2021, Logitech announced that they are fading these remotes out, as more devices are controlled by soundbars and apps. Harmony remotes are still available from different retailers, and Logitech will still support the existing remotes while the changes take place.

Bottom line

If you’re thinking universal remotes are nothing new, you are correct. They’ve been around forever, but now they have new superpowers—they can control your entire home, as well as your entertainment devices.

Our top choice—the Universal Remote Control (URC) MX-990 Complete Control—is a powerhouse in smart home control, managing up to 255 devices. Including that one, here are five that we think are the best.

Top 5 universal remote controls

Model Price # of devices Voice control Touch screen Get it
Best overall
Universal Remote MX-990 Complete Control
$393.22 255 Alexa or Google Home ✓  View on Amazon
Best for smart-home control
Universal Remote MX-450
$191.99 18 Alexa or Google Home ✓  View on Amazon
Best for voice control
Caavo Control Center Smart
$59.99 / $159.99 4 Alexa or Google Home (req. Caavo subscription) ✓  View on Amazon
Best value
SofaBaton U1 Unversal Remote Control
$49.99 8 Alexa or Google Home ✓  View on Amazon
Best for a budget
Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Remote
$25.95 4 View on Amazon

Amazon.com prices are as of 6/12/20 3:00 MST. Read full disclaimer.

Best universal remote controls

 

The Universal Remote Control (URC) brand takes the top two slots. When it comes to high-end universal remotes, URC offers a top-notch product that offers plenty of bells and whistles at different price points. Plus, they share a name with the product itself.

Now that you know our top five universal remote controls, read on for details about each one and why we put them on our list.

 

Amazon.com prices are as of 12/10/21 3:00 MST. Read full disclaimer.

Universal Remote Control (URC) MX-990 Complete Control

Best universal remote overall

The Universal Remote MX-990 with a lighted display screen.

 

Specs

  • Infrared, Wi-Fi, radio frequency, and Bluetooth
  • Number of devices: 255
  • Voice control: Yes
  • Smart-home control: Yes
  • Touch screen: Yes
  • Backlight: Yes

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Pros

  • Smart-home control through URC Complete Control app
  • Indoor and outdoor control range

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Required professional programming

URC’s MX-990 Complete Control remote lives up to its name. Yes, it has a high price tag, but if you’re building the ultimate home theater with multiple components, you definitely want a remote you can use with your TV system and more than 200 other devices.

The MX-990 with the compatible Complete Control base station extends the reception range between the remote and the devices it controls. This helps control A/V components through barriers like cabinets or walls—you can even use it from outside. You don’t even have to aim the remote or be in the same room.

This high-end remote control has a customizable user interface with a font library that lets you create custom icons, layout, themes, sounds, and backgrounds—you truly can have a remote that not only does your bidding, but also matches your aesthetic.

It’s got Alexa and Google Home integration for hands-free voice control and sleep timers for automated scheduling, and that’s just the beginning.

To get this superstar remote control programmed, it does require assistance from a Complete Control specialist. Yes, this adds a layer to getting this mighty remote going, but if a top-of-the-line product is what you desire, the extra time is worth it. Once you purchase the remote, you can call 1-914-705-4148 or email completecontrol@universalremote.com to start the process.

Other features:

  • Conditional logic for advanced programming
  • One-touch activities (multicommand macros)
  • Brilliant 2.4” color LCD screen that displays up to 8 buttons per screen
  • Charging dock
  • Ergonomic design with backlit hard-button keypad and on-board speaker

SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote

Best value

The SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote Control with an extra up-close look at its menu.

The specs

  • Infrared, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth
  • Number of devices: 15
  • Voice control: No
  • Smart-home control: Yes
  • Touch screen: Yes (on smartphone)
  • Backlight: Yes (on smartphone)

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Pros

  • Affordable whole-home control
  • SofaBaton app for on-the-go control
  • Touch screen (via smartphone)

Cons

  • Handheld remote has no lights

The SofaBaton U1 offers a couple of awesome features with an accessible $69.99 price tag. That makes it the best value for your money.

The SofaBaton U1 also has a customized smartphone app that provides a handy backup when the couch devours the remote or the dog decides it needs a new chew toy.

The app has one-button settings so you can easily pair it with your devices, and you won’t need to enter any complicated codes to create pairings.

Other features:

  • Customizable remote button
  • Alexa and Google Home integration
  • Up to 15 connected devices at a time
  • Advanced OLED display
  • Infrared codes available on the cloud database

Inteset 4-in-1 Learning Remote

Best for a budget

Inteset 4-in-1 Learning Remote.

Specs

  • Infrared-based
  • Number of devices: 4
  • Voice control: No
  • Smart-home control: No
  • Touch screen: No
  • Backlight: Yes

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Preprogrammed for common streaming boxes

Cons

  • No touch screen
  • No voice or smart-home control
  • Limited number of controlled devices

If you’re a cord-cutter or heavy TV streamer, you may not need one of these extra fancy universal remotes. If all you want is a $25 universal remote that runs your cable, player, streaming device, and TV, Inteset designed its Learning Remote with you in mind.

The Learning Remote operates all four of the devices in your home theater and has preprogrammed buttons for Apple TV, Kodi, Media Center, Roku, and Xbox One.

Its basic features and easy setup mean you can start watching sooner, without losing your whole evening to a complicated setup process.

Universal Remote Control (URC) MX-450 Complete Control

Best for whole-home control

The Universal Remote MX-450 with a lighted display screen.

The specs

  • Infrared, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth
  • Number of devices: 18
  • Voice control: Yes
  • Smart-home control: Yes
  • Touch screen: Yes
  • Backlight: Yes

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Pros

  • Controls devices through walls and doors, and from outside
  • Single-room Infrared control
  • Displays up to 6 buttons per screen
  • Programmable by the end-user

Cons

  • Price is high

Like its even pricier sister remote, the MX-990, using the Universal Remote Control MX-450 lets you control A/V components through obstacles like cabinets, furniture, or even exterior walls with its compatible Complete Control base station.

One of the biggest differences between the two—aside from the price point—is that the MX-450 doesn’t require programming assistance from the parent company. This one lets you handle that task yourself.

The MX-450 is great if you like the bells and whistles of the MX-990 but don’t mind a little less whistling—like controlling 200+ devices—and saving around a hundred bucks.

Other features:

  • Alexa and Google Home integration
  • Two-inch LCD screen that displays up to 18 devices and 48 channels
  • Ergonomic design with backlit hard-button keypad
  • Alkaline batteries operate the remote

Caavo Control Center

Best for voice search

A picture of the HDMI and power inputs on the Caavo Control Center.

Specs

  • Infrared or Bluetooth
  • Number of devices: 4
  • Voice control: Yes (req. Caavo subscription)
  • Smart-home control: via IFTTT
  • Touch screen: No
  • Backlight: No

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Pros

  • Compatibility with four devices and services
  • Centralization of devices and services
  • Universal voice search across services
  • Smart-home control via IFTTT

Cons

  • Subscription requirement for best features
  • Limited functionality with smart TVs
  • iOS-only app (Android version coming)
  • Ability to control only four devices

The Caavo Control Center and Remote allow you to control everything connected to your TV—cable boxes/DVRs, disc players, gaming consoles, smart speakers, some projectors, sound systems, and TVs—with a single remote.

Except, instead of programming a remote to control your devices, you plug your entertainment devices into a box (the Control Center) and then use the Caavo remote (which looks like an Amazon Fire Stick with extra buttons).

What makes Caavo special is its voice-control functionality. It allows you to control all four connected devices with your voice and search across multiple TV apps. It also works with Alexa and Google Home.

Don’t get too excited yet. To get the voice functionality (among other features), you must subscribe to the Caavo service plan, which is $3.99 a month or $99.99 for a lifetime membership. (For more on this, see the callout box below.)

Also, Caavo appears to be working out some of its Control Center’s kinks. For instance, it doesn’t support direct content links on some streaming apps—meaning it will take you to a home page instead of to a direct piece of content. And it doesn’t fully control most smart TVs.

That said, Caavo is an interesting take on the universal remote control, and it has some fun features, like smart-home control through IFTTT.

Other features:

  • Alexa and Google Home integration (req. subscription)
  • Smart-home control via IFTTT
  • Caavo mobile app for on-the-go control (iOS only, for now)
  • Social features (list creation and sharing)

To access some of the Caavo Control Center’s best features, you’ll have to sign up for Caavo’s subscription-based service plan, which costs $3.99 a month or $99.99 for a lifetime membership. Without it, you can use the Caavo as a remote, but you won’t get the voice, guides, universal search, Alexa, Google Home, or deep linking abilities. Here’s what spending the money gets you:

  • Voice control
  • Simple universal search across your services, apps, and subscriptions
  • Parental control feature to monitor TV use in the home
  • Universal control of your TV—from anywhere—with the Caavo mobile app
  • Sonos Controls on your TV
  • Shareable, cross-platform watch lists
  • Caavo Cache viewing history
  • Access to content guides and suggestions from tastemakers, editors, and the Caavo community

These features are great, but hiding them behind a paywall isn’t. That’s why Caavo made our list but isn’t our top pick. The lifetime membership basically pays for itself in just a little over two years. We recommend getting that if you end up being a fan of the Caavo. What’s great is that you could try it for one month first at $3.99, and you’ll know if you want the product long-term.

What to look for in a universal remote control

While we’re confident in our picks, we understand you may want to do your own research. Here’s what to look for in a universal remote.

How many devices it can control

Generally, the more devices a universal remote can control, the better.

The average person needs to run a disc player, soundbar, streaming box, and TV. If that’s you, you’ll be fine with a lower-end universal remote like the Inteset 4-in-1.

Home-theater aficionados will have more devices, including video game consoles and home theater receivers. If that’s you, we recommend the Universal Remote MX-450.

Smart-home owners will undoubtedly have more devices to control. If that’s you, you’ll want the Universal Remote MX-990 with Complete Control, which makes you the overlord of your home theater, complete with the power to exert your control from different rooms without having to get up. You can even control things indoors while you’re outside planting or watering something.

Touch screen

Most remote controls still come with soft, spongy, rubber buttons,but most of our recommendations here also have touch screens.

A touch screen on a remote allows you to set favorite channels and custom one-touch macros that will activate devices, services, and settings with a single tap. If you want a remote that offers convenience and a bit more visual stimulation, most of our recommendations have a touch screen.

Voice control

Speaking of cool—how fun is voice control? It makes you feel like you’re living in a futuristic cartoon, like The Jetsons, or a flick like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Voice control is useful, especially if your remote lacks those touch-screen buttons. You can simply ask your remote to do something, and it’ll take care of the rest while you pay the pizza delivery dude.

Many remotes also integrate with smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. This integration can be helpful because you don’t necessarily need the remote handy to activate it.

Voice control is also great if you are enjoying TV in a softly lit room or have a hard time seeing the numbers on a remote, which can be small. If a remote with voice control is in your spending range, we recommend getting it and making life easier.

Compatibility

It’s always a bummer when you play matchmaker with a device and a universal remote, and it’s not love at first pairing.

So before buying a universal remote, check to see if it’s compatible with your existing gear—and any gear you plan to buy in the near future. Most universal remotes should work fine with most devices, but it’s a good idea to double-check.

Backlight

If you’re considering a remote without a touch screen, then at least make sure it has backlit buttons. If you like your living room to be as close to a low-light theater experience as possible, light-up buttons are a must-have. It’s also perfect for those, like me, who don’t see well in a room that isn’t brightly lit.

Final take

Whether you’re looking for the best of the best or just want a decent universal remote for cheap, one of our five picks should do the trick. The URC MX-990 is a gem if money is no object and you have a large number of devices to control. Our list also includes the best universal remotes when saving money is important—we want you to get the best bang for your buck.

So, reclaim your coffee table, spread out those magazines, and pick one clicker to do all your handiwork.

FAQ

How do you program a universal remote?

Many universal remotes today use a smartphone app or computer program for setup, and they’re pretty easy to use. Some remotes with big touch screens walk you through the process right from the remote.

Do universal remotes work with smart TVs?

As long as your smart TV has an Infrared sensor (or whatever connection type your remote uses, like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi), your universal remote should work with it. But some universal remotes will control only your TV’s power, volume, and channel up/down buttons.

If you want a universal remote that controls more of your smart TV’s functions (like settings), contact your TV’s manufacturer for a list of recommended universal remotes.

Is there a good universal remote for older adults?

Flipper’s Big Button TV remote is designed for people with low or impaired vision, limited technical skills, and dementia or Alzheimer’s. It keeps things simple with just a few buttons that are big and bold in color. It can be programmed to work with many devices like TV soundbars and cable and satellite boxes. It’s not too expensive—just $39.95 on Amazon as of this writing.

Can I use a universal remote for any TV?

You can use a universal remote for almost any TV. The Logitech Harmony remotes, for example, are compatible with 270,000 devices from 6,000 brands.

Are universal remotes worth it?

Universal remotes are worth it—unless you happen to enjoy using a bazillion different clickers to watch TV. Having one optimizes your TV viewing time and decreases household clutter.

How do you use a universal remote control?

Using a universal remote control is a snap. Just pair it with your devices according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then point and zap.

How do you find the universal remote control code for your TV?

The universal remote control code for your TV should be in the instruction manual for your new remote. If not, you can find it on the remote manufacturer’s website.

Amazon.com List Prices are as of 12/28/20 3:00 MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links. CERTAIN CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON THIS SITE COMES FROM AMAZON. THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED ‘AS IS’ AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR REMOVAL AT ANY TIME.

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