9 Best Universal Remotes (Review) in 2021
In 2019, the TV entertainment experience is one that is characterized by a ridiculous number of services and devices. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon. Fire sticks, Chromecasts, Roku boxes. The list goes on and is ever growing.
If we broke down a typical entertainment hour in 2019 it would probably look something like this; 20-25% of time spent juggling countless controllers like a circus clown, frantically looking for the right one, finally finding it, only to realize that doing a basic thing with it seemingly requires a computer science degree. The remaining 75-80% of the time spent actually viewing the show you wanted to.
This isn’t right, especially as all these services and devices promised you how “seamlessly” they would integrate with your set up and how “effortless” it would all be. As you look down at the sea of remote controls on your coffee table, completely disorientated, you realize that this is anything but seamless and effortless.
Thankfully, there really is a genuine way to seamlessly and effortlessly tie these various, often competing services and devices together, eliminate the sea of remotes and regain the watching time you constantly lose. The solution? A universal remote.
Okay, before you turn your nose up at the phrase. The universal remotes we are talking about in 2019 are nothing like the ghastly, unsightly monstrosities of yesteryear that would often make things more complicated by having more buttons, switches, and options than a Boeing 747 cockpit. The 2019 incarnation of the universal remotes are sleek, sophisticated and easy to use. Well, not all of them. We sifted through hundreds to find the top nine best universal remotes that actually are, and we are going to present them to you below.
The Best Universal Remote
Get smarter by switching over to Logitech Harmony Companion to get the most out of your home entertainment experiences and let your smartphone single-handedly control what numerous remotes have been struggling with in the past. This remote control allows you to customize a large number of device activities including a movie night and date night that takes you to greater heights and boosts your comfort and convenience. All your gadgets such as thermostat, locks and lighting can now be precisely timed and activated to work together in synchronous harmony just by the touch 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 home, they can be accessed by this remote by using Harmony smartphone or tablet app using Wi-Fi, IR or Bluetooth wireless signals; or alternatively, the Amazon Alexa for integrated voice controls. All you need is the initial online or mobile set up and off you go. There is no limit to the number of home automation devices it can control. This tool enables you control up to eight different home entertainment devices. It quickly transforms your iOS and Android smartphones and tablets into instant personal universal remote controls.
You might also like some of these reliable Siri remote alternatives for the Apple TV from our list. Check them out.
Controls a limitless number of home automation devices
Amazon Alexa compatible with voice control
Fully internet accessed
Easy set up on smartphone, tablet or computer
- Weight3.84 ounces
The Logitech Harmony Smart Control comes with a receiver called the Harmony Hub which 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 such as Netflix.
270,000 devices are support from over 6,000 brands, so the chances are, whatever device you have in your house, it will be recognised by this system from the get go. And the Logitech Harmony device library makes it incredibly easy to update your both your smartphone app and universal remote control with brand new devices and commands.
If you, for some reason, don’t want to use the Harmony remote that comes with the package, or want to give more than one person in the house the ability to control media at the same time as you, then you’re in luck. The system allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet, be that Android or iOS, to download a proprietary Logitech app and turn their device into a fully-fledged universal remote. Pretty neat. Be sure to also check out our list of the best streaming sticks for more great items like this.
Controls TV, cable, gaming, lights, locks, thermostats and more
270,000 devices in the Harmony product database
Control with smartphone or harmony hub/remote
Clear, simple layout
- Weight1.2 lbs
The Logitech Harmony Elite is ridiculously powerful. It allows you to effortlessly control up to 15 connected devices. It not only lets you control entertainment devices and services but you can also hook it up to pretty much all “internet of things” devices, so lets you control the music in the kitchen or the lights in the living room. And yes, it’s fully compatible with Amazon Alexa.
And when it comes to controlling things with this remote, you are not constrained to buttons. The remote has a super sharp, slick touch screen and also allows voice control.
Controlling one device at a time? That’s so 2008. The Logitech Harmony Elite lets you group your devices into one touch activities. For example, once it’s all set up, you should be able to touch “watch a movie” on the universal remotes touch screen and it will automatically open up your preferred movie viewing app and switch it to the right setting for you. Pretty neat.
The touch screen also makes for a super intuitive way of fast forwarding, rewinding and adjusting the volume while you’re watching.
The universal remote also comes with a hub called the “harmony hub” which means you don’t have to point the remote directly at the device you want to control to control it. Anyone visiting is sure to think you have special powers.
Finally, the remote comes with the “Harmony app” which allows you to turn your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet into a controller. Damn, that’s cool.
Features motion-activated backlit buttons
Enables everyone in the house to be hooked onto it
Easily integrates and synchronizes all your devices
Various commands executed at the touch of a button
- Weight2.36 lbs
Controlling your home entertainment devices can never be faster with Harmony Express. If you are the type who desires simple and straight forward operation of your smart remote but get the very best in all the advantages it has to give, then the Harmony Express with already in-built Alexa and voice commanding feature is the right remote. Different devices from different manufacturers are easily supported and synchronized and are seamlessly integrated into this remote. It is also easy to set up and use – you simply have to activate all your devices, launch popular apps or move right away to your favorite TV channel. No need to remember all the numerous devices or inputs, or worry about what settings to use. All you have to do is speak a command and Harmony Express will give you the right settings.
In case the remote goes missing, no need to start crouching under furniture and turning items over. The mobile app can be used to trigger an alarm to easily locate the remote. The full package comes with remote control as well as a rechargeable battery, a blaster, an IR mini blaster, a USB cable, an AC adaptor, and user documentation. It weighs 2.08 ounces and measures 5.2×1.8×0.5 inches.
Easily integrated by other devices from different manufacturers
Easy to set up and use
Remote finder alarm for missing remote
Already in-built Alexa
- Weight2.08 ounces
The Logitech Harmony 650 effortlessly combines up to eight remotes into one. One of the biggest stand out features of the remote is a full-color touchscreen, which Logitech calls the “color command screen”. The screen features programmable “favorite channel” icons which lets you jump quickly to the channels you love most with one tap. The screen also displays common commands for whichever devices you happen to be using, hence the name.
The Harmony 650 also has super handy “one-click activity buttons” which you can program with commands such as “watch DVD” and “listen to music”, taking you to your preferred app with preferred settings for each of those actions.
It seamlessly works with over 5,000 electronics brands and has an online database of 225,000 devices, with new ones being added daily, so you can be sure that this universal remote will work with whatever you throw its way.
Although at first glance the Harmony 650 looks kind of complicated, you will be pleased to know that it’s remarkably easy to set up via the quick set up online software. That is why it is the best choice on our list of the best universal remotes. Check out our guide to the best smart home devices and find more products that will upgrade your home.
Pre-programmed Macro “activity” commands
Controls up to 8 different types of devices
Responsive backlit buttons
Customizable LCD screen
- Weight10.6 oz
Next up we have the Inteset INT-422 which is billed as the “first universal remote dedicated to streamers”. To support this claim, the top of the remote has four pre-programmed buttons; an “A” button for Apple TV, a “B” button for Xbox One, a “C” button for Media Centre, and finally, a “D” button for Roku. Don’t fret though, the remote also supports 10,000 other devices including Xbox 360, Fire TV and Kodi.
It’s worth noting that unlike the universal remote reviewed above that has a touch screen and buttons, i.e. multiple inputs, this one is heavy on the buttons. But this might not necessarily be a bad thing as we will explain. This Intesetremote has an intelligent button matching feature which allows you to replicate the button controls of an original device (e.g. A Roku remote) on the Inteset remote. Further, you can program up to 32 commands into a single button. Crazy.
So, although there are a lot of buttons, they are all completely customisable, allowing you to create the most comfortable, useful and accessible universal remote for your specific, personal needs.
Understandably, looking at a remote with so many buttons, you may assume that set up is going to be complex and tedious. Thankfully, that’s not the case. The universal remote has a handy online tool that lets you super easily map buttons and set up your remote precisely how you want it.
It also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, namely; volume lock, channel lock and ID lock.
Pre-programmed for XBox One, Media Center/Kodi, Apple TV and more
Channel lock enables user to limit access to certain controls
Comprehensive database of product device codes
Macro programming saves time and hassles
- Weight0.8 oz
The Logitech Harmony 350 cleverly combines up to 8 remote controls into one which includes the remote controls for your DVR, TV, cable box, sound system…you get the picture.
Oh, and if you think your devices won’t be supported then you are likely sorely mistaken as the Logitech Harmony 350 supports over 270,000 devices and support for new ones are being added daily.
The Logitech Harmony 350 doesn’t have a screen but features 5 programmable favourite buttons enabling you to hop to your most loved channels in a matter of milliseconds.
This remote may be lighter on features than the ones covered above, however, what it does, it does well and is a respectable entry into the world of universal remote controls. Make sure you keep it nice and clean with some of the best tech cleaning products from our list.
Power-on timing, sequencing and direct input commands
A range of pre-programmed “activity” commands
Control TV, cable, Blu-ray, sound system, and more
5 channel presets
- Weight9.6 ounces
For those of you who want comfort and small form factor over lots of features, this is the universal remote for you. It is an attractive handheld size and is a pleasure to hold.
This little thing can control up to three devices and effortlessly replaces and consolidates most popular remote-control brands.
And adding new remotes to this thing is easy as pie. You can use either automatic, manual or direct code search methods to find all your pesky remotes and get them into this device.
We’d be lying if we said RCA RCR503BZ is anywhere near as feature rich as the Logitech Harmony Elite. But it’s lack of features gives it a benefit most of the other remotes don’t have, and that is complete simplicity and ease of use.
Controls multiple devices
Auto, manual and direct product code search
10 presets for TV plus 10 for cable, satellite and streaming
- Weight4.2 oz
The Logitech Harmony Companion All in One Remote is an incredibly robust and feature rich system that goes well beyond just being a universal remote for controlling your various devices and services.
Much like the Logitech system reviewed above, this Logitech system has three main components; The Harmony Hub, the fully featured remote and the smartphone app.
We will take each of these components in turn, explain them and communicate their benefits.
Taking the Harmony Hub first. The Hub sends commands from your Logitech remote or smartphone with Logitech activated app and relays this information to the entertainment device or service you want to control. The benefit of this added hub is that you can now control your entertainment devices and services from the other room, through walls and through TV cabinets.
2.4 inch touch screen
WiFi and Bluetooth
Supports 270,000 products 6,000 brands
Easy set up using Harmony smartphone app
- ModelLogitech Harmony All In One Remote – CR
- Weight1.55 lbs
The GE 3-Device Universal Remote Control may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s incredibly sturdy, robust and has an impressive feature set for it’s price.
With the remote you can effortlessly control up to 3 different services or devices such as TV’s, Blu-Ray players, DVD Players, VCR’s…well, you get the idea.
The remote has a very comprehensive code library that works with all the major brands and thankfully not only supports the latest brands and products but also supports many legacy brands and devices.
Controls 3 different kinds of devices
Multi-brand and model compatibility
Code search function saves time and hassle
Sleep timer turns off TV automatically
- Weight1.6 oz
Universal Remote Buying Guide and FAQs
Ease Of Use - A quality universal remote should not involve complicated functions or buttons. Rather, the tabs and functions should be clear and unambiguous and the remote should be compatible with the other devices within the coverage area.
Design - The design of the preferred remote is simple, sleek and fits the palm easily since it is hand-held and finger controlled. What's more, it should have the ability to be operated with one hand.
Touchscreen - Though some universal remote controls can be operated without a touch screen, most of the latest models possess the touchscreen capability. This allows for easy and convenient maneuverability and versatility across features and functions as well as the ability to see on screen what the choices available are.
Features - Apart from performing simple tasks such as raising and lowering volume and changing channels, a good universal remote should have more advanced features for sound, voice, picture, and other settings.
Button Layout - Button layout should be logical and systematic to conform as much as possible to the already existing conventional and universal alpha-numeric system.
Backlight - Though not all universal remotes have this feature, it helps to locate and identify every single button even in total darkness. It also gives a superior aesthetic appeal to the remote.
Types of Universal Remotes
Touch Screen Controlled - In this type, all the functions and features are manipulated by means of a swipe on the interface of the remote or a soft tap on the tabs to execute the required effects.
Wifi EnabledPC Programmable - 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 which are obstructed in another way.
Universal Remote FAQ
Q: How do you use universal remotes?
A: You simply ensure the power battery is included and after switching on, the interface will provide the options and features to press, tap or swipe to get the desired results.
Q: What are the benefits of a universal remote?
A: Universal remote controls allow you to have an all-in-one control solution that can operate a variety of devices across multiple brands.
Q: What is the best universal remote?
The best universal remote control is the one that gives you more options to integrate the various devices for an easy operation. At the end of the day, it should make the operation of your home entertainment and other home facilities much, much easier and more stress-free.