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Are you sick of searching for the remote and then finding it under your butt—but it’s not the one you actually need? Tracking the various remotes that come with your Blu-ray/DVD player, cable box/DVR, game console, soundbar, and TV is like herding cats. You need one clicker—a magical godstick to control everything—to simplify your life.
It’s called a “universal remote control.” Yeah, they have been around forever. But now, there are numerous types of universal remotes that can control your entire home as well as your entertainment devices. Here are five that we at CableTV.com think are the best universal remotes.
|Model||Price||# of devices||Voice control||Touch screen||Get it|
|Best overall |
Logitech Harmony Elite
|$349.99||15||Alexa or Google Home||✓||View on Amazon|
|Best for whole-home control |
Logitech Harmony Companion
|$149.99||8||Alexa or Google Home||✓||View on Amazon |
|Best for voice control |
Caavo Control Center Smart
|$83.48 / $159.99||4||Alexa or Google Home (req. Caavo subscription)||✓||View on Amazon |
Logitech Harmony Hub
|$69.99||8||Alexa or Google Home||✓||View on Amazon |
|Best for a budget|
Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Remote
View on Amazon
Yeah, that is a lot of Logitech products to include. That’s because Logitech’s Harmony line of universal remote controls is one of the most popular.Now that we’ve introduced our top 5 universal remote controls, check out why they made our list.
Logitech’s flagship universal remote, the Harmony Elite, comes in a set of two devices. One is the Harmony Elite remote control. The other is the Harmony Hub, which is what routes the remote’s signal to your Blu-ray/DVD player, cable box/DVR, game console, sound system, TV, or smart-home devices.
The Hub is the best thing about the Harmony Elite. It doubles as a full-home automation hub with support for a variety of smart devices, like Philips Hue lights. If you ever lose the actual remote, you can use the Harmony app on your smartphone to control your devices.
Lastly, it’s got Alexa and Google Home integration for hands-free voice control. Nowadays, voice control is what you want. Pushing buttons is so last-century.
What if we told you that you don’t even need a universal remote?
We’ve already mentioned if you lose your Harmony Companion or Harmony Elite remote, you can control all of your devices with your smartphone via the Harmony Hub and Harmony app. You can also forget the remote part and buy the Logitech Harmony Hub separately,
Like the Companion, the Hub controls only 8 devices (compared to the Elite’s 15). But unlike the Companion, the Hub does have touch-screen control—through your smartphone.
The Hub’s price is another great selling point. At $69.99, the Hub is a cool $200 cheaper than the Elite, and $40 less than the Companion.
Could it be that the best universal remote for you isn’t a remote at all? Hmm . . .
If you’re a cord-cutter or heavy TV streamer, you may not need one of these extra fancy universal remotes with their touch screens and toilet-flushers. If all you want is a $25 universal remote that runs your cable, player, streaming device, and TV, the Inteset remote should be just fine.
Inteset designed its Learning Remote with you in mind. It operates all of the devices in your modest 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.
Like the Elite, the Logitech Harmony Companion comes with the Harmony Hub so you can control your smart-home devices. The Companion also works with the Harmony app so you can manage your home while you’re away.
The main differences between the two remotes is that the Companion controls up to 8 devices while the Elite can handle 15. Also, the Companion lacks a touch screen.
Many people don’t need to control 15 devices. And a touch screen is handy, but not essential. So the Companion is for people who want a lot of what the Elite offers—smart-home integration, mainly—without as hefty a price.
But even the Companion’s price is high compared to our next recommendation.
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 everything into a box (the Control Center) and then use the Caavo remote (which looks like an Amazon Fire Stick with extra buttons).
But what makes Caavo special—and therefore desirable—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 the Control Center’s kinks. For instance, it doesn’t support direct content links on some streaming apps. And the universal remote 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. Once Caavo straightens out its little problems, it’ll be a great unit.
While we’re confident in our picks, we understand the need to do your own research. Here’s what to look for in a universal remote.
Generally, the more devices a universal remote can control, the better.
The average person needs at least four clickers to run a disc player, soundbar, streaming box, and TV. They’ll be fine with a lower-end universal remote like the Inteset 4-in-1.
Home-theater aficionados will have more devices. If that’s you, we recommend the Logitech Harmony Companion, which can handle up to eight devices.
Smart-home owners will undoubtedly have more devices to control. They’ll want Logitech’s Harmony Elite, which will boss around up to 15 home-theater devices and run your smart-home stuff.
Most remote controls still come with soft, spongy, rubber buttons—but some 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. These are convenient, cool—but not totally necessary—features.
Speaking of cool—how fun is voice control? It makes you feel like you’re living in The Jetsons or 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Voice control is good to have on your remote, especially if it lacks those touch-screen, quick-action 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.
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 devices should work fine with most universal remotes, but it’s a good idea to double-check.
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.
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. So quit fumbling with a zillion remotes and grab one clicker to rule all of your devices!
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.
In other words, programming a universal remote isn’t as complicated as you’d think, but you’ll definitely want to consult the manual.
As long as your smart TV has an IR 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.
Logitech’s Harmony line of universal remotes boasts excellent functionality and value. The products are so good that the company has very few competitors in this area.
You can use a universal remote for almost any TV. The Logitech Harmony remotes are compatible with 270,000 devices from 6,000 brands.
Universal remotes are worth it—unless you happen to enjoy using a bazillion different clickers to watch TV.
Using a universal remote control is a snap. Just pair it with your devices according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then point-and-zap.
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.