Best Universal Remote

Whether you have a smart home or simply have too many remotes to keep track of, universal remotes and smart remotes can provide you with tranquility, efficiency and peace in your environment. To cut through the confusion and the technobabble we have provided you with a gadget guide filled with prices, reviews, technobabble breakdown and more to help you with your choice of universal remote.

What to keep an eye out for


Future-proof

 With today’s technology developing at such a significant rate it is essential that you consider long term use. Some universal remotes are available pre-equipped with software that can control your virtual assistants, such as Amazon echo, even devices such as an Xbox One X.

Compatibility

One of the key things to look out for is compatibility. Some remotes have a general layout, whereas, others have built-in services such as Netflix or Prime. Some minor research into your pre-existing gadgets is necessary to ensure your remote will work for all.

Automation

Another thing to look out for is automation. There are universal remotes available that can not only control your gadgets individually, but can also be programmed to perform a chain of events (e.g. TV on; Sky box on; input device change etc.).

Logitech Harmony 650 All-in-One Remote


EHU Rated: 4.6 stars
Price: $$$

We all know that Logitech are awesome at creating devices to help us improve our Human Computer Interface (HCI) experience. This remote is highly compatible and is also capable of replacing up to 5 remotes. There’s no doubt that this remote has a wide reach, with over 5,000 brands and almost a quarter of a million devices supported.

Logitech Harmony 650 All-in-One Remote

It fits quite nicely in the hand, meaning it’s a good choice for replacing some of your chunkier remotes. If you have the remotes you want to replace, this beauty can actually learn from them, meaning it can capture all the functions you need.

Features

  • Replaces up to 5 remotes
  • High compatibility
  • Slim design will fit in most peoples’ hands
  • Able to learn from other remotes

There’s no surprise that this remote is highly recommended by many. Its ease of use is incredible, which includes a guided online setup, a smart help function, and a remote assistant. Being able to learn from your current remotes makes it insanely useful, especially if you like to change the video settings on your TV when switching between TV and video games. There’s a lot to love about the Logitech Harmony 650 Remote, so it’s definitely a contender for best remote. The $90.99 price-tag isn’t necessarily cheap, but it’s worth the money.

Fire TV Cube


EHU Rated: 4.5 stars
Price: $$$

There’s a lot to love about Amazon, especially when it comes to their offerings in terms of video streaming devices. The Fire TV Cube is certainly a wonderful addition to Amazon’s growing list of products. The Fire TV Cube itself not only allows you to watch content through the Amazon Fire TV platform, but thanks to the integrated Alexa technology, you can also control Alexa connected devices from the Fire TV Cube.

Fire TV CubeNot as simple to get to grips with for the older generation as other universal remote options, but for what it lacks in ease of use, it makes up for with blockbusting Amazon content.

Features

  • Integrated Alexa technology
  • Ideal for Smart Homes that work with Alexa
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 surround sound
  • Free cloud storage for your Amazon content

The Fire TV Cube enables users to control pretty much all entertainment equipment like cable devices and the TV itself, giving you more control over your entertainment than ever before. At $119.99 it’s not cheap. A lot of substance is offered to match the style, but when it comes to the initial setup and first few days of use, those less familiar with technology may have a problem as the ease of use is definitely lacking. This option is best utilised by those who have Alexa enabled products. If you do have Alexa enabled products around the home and you’re great with technology, ignore the warning and add this to your wish-list.

Logitech Harmony Smart Control


EHU Rated: 4.6 stars
Price: $$$

Logitech Harmony Smart ControlWith the Logitech Harmony Smart Control you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a universal remote for up to 8 devices with the harmony hub and just one app. That makes this an amazingly enticing offer. The amount of compatibility is surprising, but what’s more surprising is Xbox One and PS3 compatibility, but no PS4 compatibility. 

Features

  • Harmony Hub converts old RF signals to Bluetooth/IR automatically
  • Harmony App turns smartphones into remote
  • One to avoid for PS4 owners
  • One-touch control will change the channel and power on required device simultaneously

Being able to press a single button on the remote to power up the required device(s) is extremely convenient. Something that can be a problem is when you use the original remote that came with your device and then you use this universal remote, it can become uncooperative and temporarily malfunction. The app that can be used on both iOS and Android smartphones adds an extra level of convenience if all other remotes are out of reach. At $117.00, you wouldn’t expect any quirks to creep into the experience. Overall though, this remote is worth a look if you have multiple compatible devices. 

RCA RCR503BZ Universal Remote


EHU Rated: 4.0 stars
Price: $$$

Highly cost-effective, this remote provides a low-tech and low-cost option for those of us that just want something to replace TV remotes without any extra trimmings. Nice and light, the remote fits more comfortably in your hand thanks to the compact design. 

RCA 3-Device Universal Remote

Features

  • Small, sleek design makes it comfortable in your hand
  • Easy to use keys
  • Great for older users

Compatibility 

  • Replaces and consolidates up to 3 devices
  • TV
  • DVD players
  • VCR players
  • Satellite boxes
  • DTV converters

It’s small, sleek and easy to use. The RCA RCR503BZ Universal Remote is actually a great gift idea for the older generations who wouldn’t do well with the high-tech options on offer. The biggest barrier to purchasing this remote is typing the name correctly into Google. The ease of use and compatibility with older generation devices like VCR players make this remote useful for the few left among us that still use VCR. For most users who are remotely familiar (excuse the pun) with technology, this remote isn’t worth looking at.

Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Learning Remote


EHU Rated: 4.8 stars
Price: $$$

Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Learning Remote

The perfect remote doesn’t exist, but this little gem is definitely close. Compatibility was important in the design, and Inteset didn’t disappoint, catering to consoles, typical streaming service hardware, and even the fringe streaming options like the Nvidia Shield 1st and 2nd gen. This is because the pre-programmed buttons will cut the time it takes to switch the TV to these devices quickly.  

Features

  • Pre-programmed for the Xbox One, Roku and Apple TV
  • A must-have for Xbox One fans
  • Program up to 32 macros into one button
  • Possibly most compatible on the list
  • Plenty of useful buttons, great for TV or movie bingers

The Inteset 4-in-1 is a remarkable remote and comes in at an astonishingly reasonable price. The value for money here is insane, with features and functions to rival, or in some cases exceed high-end and high-price competitors. 

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control


EHU Rated: 4.9 stars
Price: $$$

Logitech’s Harmony series of universal remote has really seen some success in bringing some of the best universal remotes to market. The Elite is well named. This remote represents all Logitech has to offer.

Compatible with not just TV and media devices, but also some smart home devices such as lights, thermostats and locks, this remote can give you control over your environment without ever standing up. 

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control

Features

  • Compatible with smart home devices
  • Backlit screen has full colour, with tap and swipe controls
  • Adjusts device settings to fit your needs with short-cuts
  • Controls up to 15 devices
  • Rechargeable batteries included
  • Can store up to 50 channels

The Elite is able to help control your entire smart environment without ever leaving your seat. When it comes to controlling your TV though, you can store up to 50 channels for quick and easy access. That’s useful, especially when you need to flick back and forth to keep an eye on scores if you’re a sports fan. On top of being compatible with smart home devices, it’s also compatible with Alexa, giving you an unprecedented level of control over your home from a single device. Its elite status and elite nature come with a price-tag to match at $169.99.

Caavo Universal Remote


EHU Rated: 4.1 stars
Price: $$$

The universal remote brought to market by Caavo is a useful thing to have around, especially if you have subscriptions to multiple TV streaming services (see our article if you’re unfamiliar).The bad news is that it’s only compatible with external media streaming services, and isn’t compatible with satellite or cable boxes.

Caavo Universal Remote

Features

  • Only compatible with external media streaming services (no cable/satellite)
  • Controls up to 4 devices and a speaker
  • Requires a service plan at $3.99 a month

The required service plan at $3.99 a month isn’t something that should be required. It means that you’ll be spending close to $50 a year just to be able to use it, which isn’t worth the lack of compatibility compared to other remotes.

Even the high-priced options, given their expected life of a few years, will work out cheaper over time. The good news is that it supports current-gen consoles, 4K, HDR and a universal voice search, making its value as a utilitarian means of consolidating all of your other streaming services quite high. Another downside is a lack of compatibility with mobile devices.

Logitech Harmony Companion All-in-One Remote


EHU Rated: 4.3 stars
Price: $$$

Another addition to the Harmony range from Logitech, the Companion is a more affordable option than some of the others. The Companion is nice and easy to set up, with a guide included and available online.

Logitech Harmony Companion All-in-One Remote

There’s a certain amount of future-proofing present given the release date, but it’s only compatible up to Windows 8, meaning Windows 10 users will experience issues. 

Features

  • Guide included, useful for people who aren’t computer literate
  • 50 one-touch programmable buttons
  • Alexa voice control
  • Harmony Hub allows smartphones to become remote

The Companion is a great all-rounder as far as universal remotes are concerned. It’s definitely worth a look as long as you’re not a Windows 10 user, and it’s worth noting that it’s one of the more affordable options in the Logitech Harmony range. Alexa compatibility is included in the design and smartphones can also be used as remotes, which is a feature also included in the higher-priced Harmony options.

GE Universal Remote


EHU Rated: 4.0 stars
Price: $$$

GE Universal Remote Control Another highly affordable option, the universal remote put forth by GE is something that offers a lot of functionality for less than a week’s worth of coffee. This universal remote is designed to deal with your TV, media streaming services and cable or satellite boxes as well as sound bars. This gives it some great value for everyone, and it’s layout and function makes it a good choice for some of the older generations as well, who wouldn’t have too much of a problem getting used to it.

Features

  • Good performance and very cheap
  • Compatible with satellite/cable boxes
  • Code library is included
  • Easy to use for older generations

All in all this remote offers a great amount of value for money, but the value for money here comes more from the low price than anything else. It doesn’t have an amazing amount of features, nor does it have all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a higher-priced product. The best part about this remote specifically is that the code library is included, which means you don’t have to go hunting for the codes you need.

Final Thoughts


Finding the right remote for you will depend on a variety of things, but the most important has to be what media devices you have. Some remotes won’t work with satellite or cable boxes, meaning they won’t be the best choice if you get cable or satellite. Most work with at least a couple of streaming services, but you need to make sure they work with the streaming services you have, or plan on getting. 

Price matters, but don’t just take into account the initial price. Because the Caavo remote requires a $3.99 service plan, you’ll be paying almost $50 a year until you stop using it, so if you use it for 3 years, the price over time would meet the initial outlay for most of the other universal remotes on this list.

FAQs


Q: Are universal remotes worth it?

A: When it comes to the value of a universal remote, there are 2 scenarios in which they become the ideal gadget for your home. 

  • You have too many remotes and are looking to consolidate them into one
  • You’ve lost the devices (usually TV) remote and are looking for a good replacement
Q: How does a universal remote work?

A: There are two types of universal remote on the market;

Multi Brand remotes: These remotes are pre-programmed with an array of electronic codes for many popular brand names. These universal remotes are fairly basic, usually providing basic commands for your TV/DVD/VCR/etc. and the ability to control roughly 4 at a time.

Learning remotes: These remotes are the “big brothers” of remotes. Like the multi brand remote they come with pre-programmed codes for popular manufacturers, however, learning remotes go beyond this. These popular models are able to replicate not only the functions but also the unique layout of your original remote. There are even some learning remotes that have been future-proofed for some upcoming devices in advance.

Q: How do I find the code for my universal remote?

A: There are a few ways that you can find the code;

User Manual: Some remotes will have a list of codes included in their user manual, or printed on a loose sheet of paper within the original box.

Internet: Visit a site like Codes for Universal Remotes and search for your specific device in the list. 

Phone Call: Call the manufacturer of the desired remote, give them the exact make and model and request a complete codes list, or, a specific one if you know the devices. Your universal remotes model number should be situated within the battery housing.

Q: What is the best universal remote control?

A: The best universal remote is by far the Logitech Harmony Elite. At a higher price of $169.99 it is no piggy bank purchase. That being said, however, this remote fulfills the best all-rounder category also. As this remote not only works with AV devices but also smart devices, this is ideal for the wider market. Whether you need to declutter your coffee table or control your smart house, this remote is so versatile it would fit in most homes.