The In-Depth Buyer's Guide 2019

Best Universal Remote: In Depth Review and Buyers Guide

Over 80+ Hours Testing & Reviewing 30 Universal Remotes

9.7 out of 10

Deciding when it’s time to make the move to the best universal remote is a personal decision. One way to know it’s time is when you’re trying to control your best satellite TV set top box with a remote in your left hand, your audio system with a remote in your right hand, leaving you to control your TV’s input ports by pressing a button with your elbow. Trust us: This means it’s time for a universal remote.

A universal remote is one that can control multiple pieces of equipment from a single remote control, which should simplify the the enjoyment of your media gear … and save on elbow pain. You’ll also have quite a few options for selecting a unit, such as the best touch screen universal remote or best universal remote with WiFi connectivity. Such remotes are able to control TVs, set top boxes, optical disc players, audio systems, and other devices. Some are even able to work with your home automation system.

While you could pick up a very basic universal remote near the counter at the grocery store for a few bucks, the following units provide plenty of features and functionality. You should expect to pay $100 to $300 for a top end universal remote though.

Best Universal Remote

- August 2019

How We Decided

4 main factors come down to picking the top universal remotes.


Ease of Use



Editor’s Choice/Best Rated

Universal Remote

 Logitech Harmony Ultimate One 2.4” Touch Screen Universal Remote

  • Touchscreen interface makes it easy to setup + use 
  • With Harmony HUB it works with all device types; infrared + RF
  • Compatible with smartphone + don't need line of sight
  • Pricey
  • HUB sold separately
  • Touchscreen interface could be faster

Why We Like It: The Logitech Harmony Ultimate universal remote offers a lot of flexibility, but you’ll need to be able to take full advantage of its features to justify its high price tag. The actual remote has a limited number of buttons, but the 2.4-inch touch screen takes the place of a large number of buttons. The remote has a rechargeable battery, charging as it rests inside the accompanying cradle. Justifying the price of the Harmony Ultimate is certainly easier if you have a complex home AV system, as well as some smart home devices.

Best Universal Remote App

for iPhone

Logitech Harmony Hub

out of 10
  • Infrared and RF Control
  • Affordable price
  • Works with most if not all smartphones
  • App could be faster and load faster
  • No physical remote included

Why We Like It: We live in a smartphone centric world. So what better way to always have control of your home and your home theater's controls. And there is no remote to fight over or lose, or charge. 

Best Universal Remote

for Xbox One

Logitech Harmony All in One Remote Control

out of 10
  • Includes both the HUB and physical remote
  • Closed cabinet controls
  • Less fragile than touchscreen brothers
  • Only works with up to 8 devices
  • No touchscreen (or screen)
  • High price for average internet users

Why We Like It: The Logitech Harmony Companion All in One Remote blends both the tech versed and averse by including both the HUB for smartphone use and a physical remote for those that want a simple channel changer. 

Best Cheap Universal


Logitech Harmony 650 Infrared All in One Remote

out of 10
  • Ultra easy to use, even for the tech averse
  • Less than $45
  • Supports up to 8 devices
  • Only supports up to 8 devices
  • No RF support
  • Screen is small, bordering on not that useful

Why We Like It: Offers easy to use features at a desirable price point.

If you like the look of a traditional remote control, the Logitech Harmony 650 is a popular model that provides control though numerous buttons, rather than a touch screen. You can fully program this remote through your computer, allowing it to control a variety of devices.

Best Touch Screen Universal


Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control

out of 10
  • Includes HUB + powerful touchscreen remote
  • Works with Alexa
  • Charging station + RF & Infrared blaster for closed cabinet control
  • Expensive
  • Setup not for the faint of heart

Why We Like It: Remote and hub can authoritatively control a massive number of devices. The Logitech Harmony Elite has a very high price tag versus other universal remote options, but it also a versatile option, allowing for control of up to 15 devices at one time. Logitech lists 270,000 devices that offer compatibility with the Elite, including smart home devices, set top boxes, gaming consoles, and Blu-ray players.

Best Universal Remote

for DirecTV

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control

out of 10
  • Low price
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Harmony HUB included does RF and Infrared with smartphone app
  • App slow at times to react
  • Alexa integration needs works

Why We Like It: As with the Harmony Ultimate above, you’ll receive a physical remote with the Logitech Harmony Home Control, as well as the Harmony Hub. You then can download the Harmony app to your smartphone to provide additional features and the ability to control smart home devices.

Inside a Home Theater

Which Best Universal Remote Is Right For You?

Universal remote controls are great pieces of hardware — as long as they work correctly, that is. While it’s handy to replace three, four, or more remote controls with a single unit, it needs to be easy to set up and use, while also making a quick connection with the varying devices you have in your home.

Whether you prefer a traditional universal remote with dozens of buttons or a touch screen control option, you have a host of great options for picking universal remotes, none of which will require pressing buttons with an elbow.

What to Look for in the Best Universal Remote


Intuitive Options

For your universal remote to improve your experience with your television and other devices, it needs to have some “smart” options. Some universal remotes allow you to perform programming searches or provide suggestions on what type of new shows you might like. You will have to pay more for a universal remote with these features, though.


Ease of Use

If you’re the kind of person who sees all of the buttons on a universal remote and has a panic attack, thinking back to your days of using a scientific calculator in high school math class, you will want a remote that’s easy to use. Some universal remotes incorporate touch screens, programmable buttons, or voice commands to simplify your interaction with them.


Incorporating All Kinds of Technology

The best universal remotes can control more than just the TV obviously. After all, if you’re purchasing a universal remote, you want it to run your set top box, DVD/Blu-ray player, and sound system. But some newer universal remotes can control other smart appliances in your home too. Just make sure any universal remote you pick has compatibility features so it can handle any older devices in your home.

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Mistakes to Avoid


Not Preparing for Troubleshooting

Assuming You Can Rely on a Smartphone App

Most Important Universal Remote Features

  • Connectivity
  • Display Screen
  • Controlling Devices
  • Mobile Device Apps

Most universal remotes naturally are made to connect to TVs, set top boxes, optical disc players, and sound systems.

However, you may want to pick a remote that also can control home appliances in a smart home environment, such as Logitech’s offering.

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