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The twenty-first century has provided us with many useful electronics. But, with electronic gadgets like TVs, stereos, soundbars, gaming systems, came their remote controls.

It is not unusual to see someone’s coffee table cluttered with many remote controls. Luckily, a solution exists – universal remotes.

If you are looking for the best universal remotes, then we have a treat for you. We have reviewed plenty of them and created a list of the top ten.

You don’t have to waste your time on research because we have done it for you.

In Short

Depending on your home situation, you can go for a budget choice like Logitech Harmony 665. It is an incredibly capable device as it can control up to 10 devices.

But if you want the best of the best, Logitech Harmony Companion is the one to pick. This remote works with Alexa and can control all your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices. It does have to be in sight to command devices.

Best Remote Controls in 2019

Product Name
  • Devices Controlled
  • Signals Recognized
  • Learning Capability
  • Smart Connectivity
  • Power
  • Price

1. Logitech Harmony Companion - Best Universal Remote of 2019

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  • It has large, roomy buttons
  • Works with Alexa
  • Buttons are customizable
  • iOS and Android app support
  • Six activity buttons
  • Lacks a display
  • It is not backlit
check price

The remote control is deemed as one of the best devices ever invented by man. But when there are too many of them, it’s time to turn to a functional universal remote that simplifies home entertainment. The Logitech Harmony Companion is a contraption aimed at those who want to include home automation in their remote control.

Compatibility and Ease of Use

This remote is designed for ease of control. It works with the separate Harmony Hub that allows it to control up to eight devices ranging from AV components, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and trusty IR devices. It is perhaps the most flexible seeing that it has app support that can transform your phone or tablet into a remote control.

Logitech Harmony Companion operates via RF. This means it does not need a line of sight to devices. You can change channels from behind walls. Although it does not have an IR emitter, it can receive IR signals from the home hub. The same happens for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals.

Even better, this device can work with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice controls. You can control smart devices like thermostats, smart locks, lights, etc. with your voice. The hub stores important information like interfacing, setup information, and software updates.

Perhaps the best thing with Logitech Harmony Companion is its button layout and simplicity. It has dedicated buttons for smart devices. This way, you won’t have trouble controlling a complex system complete with streaming devices, gaming consoles, and PCs.

Set up

This remote can be set up using a PC, smartphone, or tablet. You have to configure the hub first, and then download the Harmony App. After that, the app will auto-scan for devices. When it’s done, you can then create favorites and custom activities. The remote acts as the shortcut to the selected activities on the smart hub.

There are three buttons at the top of this remote which allow setting up of multi-step commands like Listen to Music or Watch TV. It is easy to control multiple devices with only a single button.

Stuff to Consider

The Harmony app remains a bit buggy that set up may not be as straightforward as Logitech wants us to believe. Six home buttons on this remote are limited to only specific functions, which can be a bit limiting.

Summary

Logitech Harmony Companion supports over 270,000 devices meaning it is most likely that your devices fall in this category. It is straightforward to set up and use the remote. We only wish it was backlit to eliminate eye strain when using it in dark rooms.

2. Logitech Harmony 665 - Best Budget Universal Remote

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  • Does not require a smart hub
  • Sets efficiently using MyHarmony Windows software
  • It has learning capabilities
  • Programmable buttons
  • Controls 10 devices
  • The screen is quite small
  • It's big and may feel awkward in the hand
check price

Logitech Harmony 665 offers the best value in a standalone remote. It does not need a smart hub to operate making it the most straightforward and functional universal remote you can get for the money.

Compatibility and Ease of Use

This is an infrared (IR) remote, which means it has to be in the line of sight to send signals. The beauty of it is that it is straightforward to customize and control up to 10 devices from over 6000 brands.  We are talking sound systems, TVs, media streamers, and all sorts of devices whose individual remotes clutter your living space.

Logitech Harmony 665 allows you to access up to 23 channels on its intuitive touchscreen. The screen is of full color and gives the luxury to select channels from satellite or cable setups during installation. It sets up effortlessly with a computer such that you don’t need to enter codes.

This remote uses MyHarmony software to configure settings and add devices in a snap. With its black, backlit buttons, it is good to go in low-light rooms. The remote will perform all functions that your other remotes do. From changing channels to skipping and pausing music, adjusting the volume, and using commands, it can control many devices. The best part is that you won’t have to push many buttons.

Stuff to Consider

This is not an advanced remote. It does not have voice controls, and its name will not suffice when looking for a remote for home automation. It is the simplest to use in the Harmony line meaning the features are limited.

Summary

If all you want is a simple set up, Logitech Harmony 665 is the remote for you. It may be limited in smart features, but it offers simple controls that will help streamline a decent number of devices.

3. Logitech Harmony Elite - Best High-End Universal Remote

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  • Can set up one-touch activities
  • Supports Alexa voice controls
  • Intuitive touchscreen
  • 50 favorite channels
  • Can customize smart device commands
  • Not inhibited by a line of sight
  • Can occasionally miss commands
check price

Most people regard the Logitech Harmony Elite as slick and top of its line. We couldn’t agree more because it will not only control your AV equipment and TVs, but it also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Design and Compatibility

Logitech Harmony Elite is beautiful. It enables you to build a smart home around it thanks to the accompanying home hub. Whether you have just installed a Nest thermostat and smart cameras, you can control all of them via this remote. You will find it is ergonomic and grippy, and you will always know the function of each button in the shortest time possible.

Apart from its impressive buttons, it also boasts a 2.4-inch touchscreen that gives you access to TV shortcuts and contextual information. For devices that do not transmit RF signals, it uses the smart home hub to communicate with the remote using two mini IR-blasters and IR repeaters. So, you can use the remote from the next room to turn on the TV or close the blinds.

Set Up

With Logitech’s Harmony app, you don’t need to go through the trouble of using a USB cable to change the settings. The app comes in handy to set up devices without asking manufacturers for codes. With the help of Logitech’s vast database, you will be able to set up just about everything within minutes.

The home hub syncs settings that you change on the app to the remote. It is a streamlined approach that you never have to think twice about.

Stuff to Consider

Controlling multiple devices can be a roller coaster. You’ll be going from several remotes to only one, which can be confusing at first. But with the ability to create activities, the process gets simplified and comfortable along the learning curve.

Summary

Logitech Harmony Elite works great for most people. It is quite expensive, but you can use it from anywhere around the home. With a full-color touchscreen for accessing a total of 50 channels and being able to configure it for smart devices, this remote is feature-rich and worth the money.

4. Logitech Harmony Smart Control - Another Budget-Friendly Option

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  • It has learning capabilities
  • Controls up to 8 devices
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Sets up in minutes
  • Supports connectivity with apps over iOS and Androids
  • Limited functionality without the hub and app
check price

Logitech Harmony Smart Control is an older model in the Logitech Harmony line. This also means it is a bit cheaper and easier to get the hang of.

Compatibility

Logitech Harmony Smart Control can control up to 8 devices. With Logitech’s constant updates, this remote is quite viable for most of the functions showcased by its newer counterparts. The remote alone transmits RF signals, but when coupled with Logitech’s smart hub, it opens up possibilities for controlling IR and Bluetooth devices.

The home hub just needs to be in proximity with AV equipment, and it will do a good job of being an IR blaster. It also allows you to use Sonos and Chromecast so you can remotely control devices like Ecobee, Nest, Phillips hue, and the like. The home hub can also integrate with home automation systems with the help of the Harmony Home Extender.

As you can see, this remote, in conjunction with the smart home hub, provides affordable means of managing smart devices. The only thing you won’t enjoy is a touchscreen which gives you shortcuts to channels and dedicated buttons for smart devices.

Set Up

The Harmony app is at the center of installation and getting the most out of this remote. The app is simple to set up and allows access to 50 favorite channel icons, media playback, and volume control. With the remote, you can control devices behind closed cabinets. It also makes it easy for anyone, including guests, to access your devices without getting confused about the remote to pick.

Stuff to Consider

Without the app and smart home hub, you are limited to only the devices that transmit RF signals. This means Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IR devices won’t be supported. It’s something you’ll want to consider because the app and hub are not a must-have for the remote to work.

Summary

Logitech Harmony Smart Control offers the same functionality of newer models while being affordable. It’s an ideal choice if you don’t have a complicated system that needs customization of specific buttons for your smart devices.

5. Sony RMVLZ260 Universal Remote - Ideal for Home Theatre System

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  • Comfortable handling
  • 12 buttons for customizing activities
  • Learning function
  • Controls 8 devices
  • Ideal for IR devices
  • There are durability concerns
  • Lacks smart capabilities
check price

Sony RMVLZ260 is a chunky remote, so if you have big hands, you’ll appreciate how comfortable it feels to operate it. But that’s not the most significant feature of this remote.

Compatibility and Ease of Use

This is an IR only remote. It has to be in direct line of sight to your devices. It can control up to eight devices including VCRs, DVDs, and TVs. You can lose all the remotes and program the Sony RMVLZ260 to perform all the functions of individual remotes. With 12 one-touch system controls, you only need to program macros/activity commands. After the initial setup, you can access your AV equipment with a few buttons.

Since this remote does not have smart features, it means you don’t have access to a vast database of systems. You can find your manufacturer’s code and type it, search through codes and find the correct one, or teach the remote using the learning function.

The last method is quite easy. All you do is put the remote in the learning mode, point it to the original remote, and that’s it. Sony RMVLZ260 can then transmit the codes from the original remote.

Stuff to Consider

Setting up involves pressing a series of buttons. You have to hold down two buttons before typing in the code. Since the two required buttons are too small, you will need both hands for help. Seniors will not like the setup process despite the remote being one of the simplest to use.

Summary

Sony RMVLZ260 is pretty basic-nothing to wow tech geeks. But for those looking for a simple universal remote for home theatre systems, it is an excellent choice. Everything after setting it up is a breeze.

6. Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Backlit - Best for Streaming Devices

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  • Four pre-programmed buttons
  • Comes with button labels
  • Supports over 100,000 devices
  • Intuitive programming
  • It has macro support
  • Learning capability
  • It does not work with Roku Streaming Stick
  • Lacks a dedicated button to turn on backlighting
check price

Most homes have an Apple TV or Roku, Xbox One, or Windows Media Center. If you are not in the business of automating your home, better grab the Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Backlit IR Learning Remote. It comes pre-programmed for the above devices so if you already own one of them, you can start using the remote right away.

Compatibility and Ease of Use

Inteset 4-in-1 will connect up to four devices. It has a sleek design and an easy interface that is not similar to universal remotes in its price range. It has ergonomic keys that are backlit to use in all lighting conditions. It has a curved base that is also comfortable to hold.

Setting up this remote is much like setting up any other basic universal remote. It allows you to select a button to program, enter the code to match the device you are programming, and you are set. You won’t be getting a list of codes in the manual. Instead, Inteset has a database of codes on its website. You don’t need to contact your device’s manufacturer for codes.

This remote can also program macros. You set up a button to set off a series of commands that lead to one final action such as listening to music or watching a movie. It can create customized activities with up to 15 buttons.

Most universal remotes require you to supply the batteries. But, Inteset bucks the trends and includes a pair of AA batteries to start you off.

Stuff to Consider

As great as this remote is, it can only control four devices. Most people have more than four and will continue to add more. It is not a futuristic remote as it will be phased out by more capable universal remotes unless Inteset releases an update, which is unlikely.

Summary

From the ergonomics to the ease in programming, this is a straightforward, universal remote. Inteset has a lot going for it only that you may not keep it around for very long if you plan on going smart.

7. GE 6 Universal - Pre-Programmed for Samsung TVs

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  • Ideal for smart TVs
  • Operates six devices
  • It has master volume control
  • Supports all major brands
  • Backlit with a dedicated button
  • Some buttons are very small
check price

In the world of universal remotes, there are too many to choose from. Honestly, there’s not much difference between the GE 6 37038 Universal Remote and Inteset when it comes to programming. But, the GE 6 37038 Universal Remote has a few key features that make it stand out.

Design and Compatibility

It is simple to handle as it feels good and ergonomic. The button layout is conventional; you’ll know what is where by feel. Like Inteset, there’s some pre-programming going on here, but for Samsung TVs instead of streaming devices.

Not to say it won’t work with Roku and Apple TV. In fact, it is exceptional with most gadgets including DVRs, DVDs, Blu-ray players, and smart TVs. It offers similar functionality to that of original remotes as it is super intuitive. You can control six devices and programming comes easy.

Since GE 6 works with all major brands, it gives you access to a database of codes to ease the setup process. We noted, however, that it does not have learning capabilities so you have to input the codes manually. We like that it has US technical support meaning you can have your queries answered with no problem.

Stuff to Consider

GE 6 is as basic as they get. Without macros and learning functions, controlling devices can still be a process. Despite supporting Samsung TVs, controlling new models with this remote is a hassle.

Summary

GE 6 is about functionality in the way you program and control your devices. It is excellent with AV devices, especially if you have lost the original remote. With an expansive library of codes, you can get it to work with just about any streaming device.

8. RCA RCR503 Palm-Sized Remote - Ideal for Seniors

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  • Large, ergonomic buttons
  • Effortless to program
  • Access to codes database
  • Super cheap
  • It has specific keys for different devices
  • It lacks left and right arrows for selecting episodes on DVD
  • It does not have learning capabilities
check price

RCA RCR503 universal remote is palm-sized, and it can reduce the clutter on your coffee table. You will have no problems using and setting up this remote.

Compatibility and Ease of Use

This remote is devised to control three IR devices. It can work with cable TV, streaming players, DVDs, and VCRs. It can consolidate remotes from major brands and is easy to program with a few steps. It has three methods of inputting codes including automatic, manual, and direct code searches.

It should not take more than 30 minutes even if there’s a stage that involves holding down two buttons. The remote is spacious, which makes it faster to program than a remote like Sony RMVLZ260. It is simple, functional, and it will create a small command center for your devices.

Seniors will appreciate the size and the comfortable holding that it offers. Since the buttons are labeled in the like of TV, VCR, and SAT-CBL-DTC, it is not hard to figure out which button should program which device. In that sense, RCA RCR503 will not work with old receivers. But you can always go to RCA’s website to get yourself a copy of the manual.

Stuff to Consider

Millennials will not get excited about this remote. It has the capability of controlling only three devices. But, we tend to have gaming consoles, Fire TV, Roku Stick, and a host of other gadgets that this device does not support. On the other hand, seniors will appreciate its simplicity.

Summary

If you have two or three devices to control, there’s no need to purchase an expensive universal remote. The RCA RCR503 is more than enough for your needs. From setting up to its responsiveness, RCA has valued simplicity above all.


Useful Information About Universal Remotes

Universal remotes are useful for a couple of simple reasons. They remove clutter from your living room. Take a look at the table in front of your TV. Chances are high that you will notice at least three remote controllers. All of them gather dust, and all of them require batteries. This is why universal remotes are a good declutterer – you only need one.

The second reason why universal remotes are useful is comfort. You can sit and relax while controlling all of your electronic devices with a single remote.

Basically, universal remotes save space, money, and provide you with much-needed comfort and convenience.

What Are Universal Remotes?

Universal remotes look the same as the rest of your remotes, but with a big difference. They can control most, if not all, of your devices.

Replacing a broken TV remote can become a pricy task. Especially if the TV manufacturer has stopped producing them. The only thing you can do is to try finding a used remote that may not work properly, or you could get a universal remote.

But, universal remotes aren’t simple devices like they used to be many years ago. Nowadays, not all universal remote controllers are created equal. Fortunately, our top ten list will help you find the one that could solve your problems.

Useful Features to Look For

There are a couple of features that not all of the universal remotes on the market have. But, we consider them important. So, if you are searching for a new universal remote, then look for a model with some of the following features.

  • Compatibility: While their name is “universal remote”, the reality is that most of them are not universal. You should note down the devices that you want to control, and then check whether a universal remote supports all of them.
  • Range: Be sure that the range of a universal remote is enough for your home. While plenty of models have a decent range, some of them don’t. Some models can control devices through walls. So, if you need a universal remote with a huge range, then make sure that the one you want meets your requirements.
  • Smart capabilities: If you want to control your smart devices with a universal remote, then you need a remote that can do it. Universal remotes with smart capabilities allow you to control your devices, as well as smart appliances like light bulbs, thermostats, cameras, and more.
  • Various signals: All of the universal remotes support the IR (infrared) signals, but not all of them support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. If you want to control plenty of different devices, then go for a model that supports those devices’ signals.
  • Battery: Some of the universal remotes use AA batteries that need to be replaced, others use AAA batteries. But, the best remotes will provide you with rechargeable batteries.
  • Devices controlled: Many universal remotes will allow you to control three to eight devices. But, if you require more, then you should know that some units allow you to control over 10 different devices.
  • Display screen: Lots of universal remotes come with a display screen that shows you useful information. Some of them have touch screens, which greatly improve the way you control your devices.
  • Large buttons: Older family members might run into problems with universal remotes if the buttons and writings on them are tiny. You should consider getting a universal remote with large buttons because all of the family members can use them.
  • Backlight: If you enjoy watching TV at night, then you know how annoying it is to change a channel when you can’t see anything. A backlight is important if you intend to use your universal remote during the night.

What Are Learning Universal Remotes?

Learning universal remotes have the ability to “learn” the signal of another remote controller. They provide you with plenty of flexibility, but with one caveat – you have to “teach” them.

The process is not the same for all of the models, but it boils down to this:

  • Put your remote into programming mode
  • Press the key you want to program
  • Press the equivalent key on the original remote
  • When a command is successfully learned, you will be notified.

While the process can be considered tedious, the learning function is too useful to be overlooked. If you want a universal remote that will allow you to control the largest amount of different devices, then go for a universal remote with learning capabilities.

Can I Use My Smartphone With a Universal Remote?

Only the most advanced universal remotes come with a smartphone app that gives you more accessibility and comfort.

Those types of universal remotes come with a hub that can be connected to your Wi-Fi or an entertainment system. This allows you to use your smartphone or a tablet to control your devices.

You can find this function only in the best models of universal remotes. But, if you enjoy controlling everything via your smartphone, then you might enjoy using a universal remote that can connect to an app.

Is it Hard to Setup a Universal Remote?

While setting up a universal remote isn’t hard, you should start things off by reading the instructions.

Some of the units instruct you to enter a code that matches the device you want to sync, but how do you find the code? You can find the code inside your old remote controller. Open the battery compartment, remove the batteries, and you will see the code written down.

If you don’t have the old remote controller or the code isn’t visible, then you can find the code on one of the code websites online. Simply choose your device, and you will receive the code.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid the process of finding the code, then you can opt in for a universal remote that does it automatically. The only thing you have to do is press one or two buttons, and your universal remote will find the right code.

Bear in mind that not all of the universal remotes have the option of having the code. So, make sure to read our top 10 list to find a model that suits your needs.