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

Juggling 10 different remotes while simply trying to watch a movie only causes you more frustration than anything else. If you're experiencing this, it might be time for a universal remote. With a myriad of options on the market, though, it can be hard to find the right remote for your setup. So we went out and bought the top 20 universal remotes to test them on our home theater setup so you don't have to.


As we tested the remotes, we looked for key features and tried them out. Things like touch screens, Wi-Fi connectivity and ease of use were the most important, but we also tested features like mobile app functionality and IR vs RF.


​After all of our testing, we narrowed the list down to the top 10 universal remotes and crowned one as king of all remotes: the Logitech Harmony Ultimate One. This universal remote can connect via RF and IR, features a super intuitive touch screen and works with just about any device you can think of, making it the easy choice for the #1 spot. Keep reading to learn more about the Logitech Ultimate One, as well as the other 9 universal remotes that performed better than anything else on the market.


Best Universal Remote

- October 2019

How We Decided


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

RF/Infrared
Connectivity


​Interface
Ease of Use


App
Smartphone

$10-$270
Value


 Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote - Editor’s Choice/Best Rated Universal Remote

Pros
Cons
  • 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.


Logitech Harmony Hub - Best Universal Remote App for iPhone

9.5
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • 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. 


Logitech Harmony All in One Remote Control - Best Universal Remote for Xbox One

9.2
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • 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. 


GE Universal Remote - Best Cheap Universal Remote

9.0
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Ultra easy to use, even for the tech averse
  • Less than $10
  • Supports most streaming/smart devices
  • Only supports up to 4 devices
  • No RF support
  • No built-in display

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 GE Universal Remote 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.


Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control - Best Touch Screen Universal Remote

8.9
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • 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.


Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control - Best Universal Remote for DirecTV

8.9
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • 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

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

Stay Connected


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Mistakes to Avoid

answers

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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