Does your entertainment room look like the lost and found box at a RadioShack? Do you have more controllers and remotes than actual TVs or devices? Have the drawers in your TV stand become a labyrinth of remotes and controllers for your DVD/Blu-Ray player, TV, Apple TV, AV receiver and soundbar? If so, a universal remote is a must-have item for you to regain your sanity and simplify your viewing experience.
Universal remotes can be programmed to control every aspect of your home entertainment system and consolidate your system down to one remote. That’s right — you can control your Apple TV hub, Samsung TV, and Denon AV receiver with only one remote. And as technology has advanced, some universal remotes even control components in your smart home, such as smart lighting and locks. Integrations with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls can really make your universal remote the central command center of your home.
Before you get started with our product suggestions, you’ll likely see three common types of remotes: IR (which stands for Infrared), hub-based and hybrid remotes. An infrared remote will work for TVs, DVD players, stereo systems and many other AV devices. IR remotes have been around for a really long time, which is why you can find plenty of cheap universal remotes.
However, some newer devices have done away with IR in favor of WiFi. For example, most Fire TV devices don’t have IR, and many (but not all) Roku devices receive IR. If you truly only want one remote, you can get a hub-based remote.
Hub remotes use a secondary piece of hardware, allowing you to communicate with all the components in your home entertainment center and even features like your smart thermostat. There are also hybrid remotes, which use a combination of WiFi, Bluetooth, or IR to send signals. Hub-based and hybrid remotes are more widely compatible but will be a bit more expensive.
Here is a list of the best universal remotes we found.
1. Logitech Harmony Companion
The Harmony Companion from Logitech can connect up to eight devices, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa. With this handy remote, you can control your entire entertainment system, and also your smart home components like your thermostat and the lights in your home. There are three main components: the hub, the remote and a smartphone app. For the installation, you’ll need an internet connection and some time to go through the process – which takes about 25 minutes. The remote is lightweight and comfortable to hold and doesn’t need line-of-sight to work properly, which is a small, but convenient detail. The remote isn’t backlit but is one of the few universal remotes that does have the capabilities to control your smart home, which is convenient for those looking to upgrade more than their entertainment system.
2. Philips Universal Companion Remote Control
This remote control from Philips has a sleek design with a side-panel for controlling inputs and volume, leaving plenty of room for navigation buttons and a number pad. This remote can be paired with up to four different devices. The most unique feature is that on the flip side of the remote there’s a cradle for storing an Amazon Fire remote, allowing you to turn this into a two-in-one remote. Alternatively, you can get a remote that features a cradle for storing a Roku remote.
3. GE Universal Remote Control
BEST BASIC REMOTE
This option from GE is an IR remote built for the streaming age because it comes preprogrammed for Samsung TVs and Roku boxes. It comes in a range of eye-catching colors like rose, silver and gold. It allows you to program up to four different devices, and the large buttons are clearly labeled and intuitively placed.
4. RCA Three-Device Universal Remote, Black
If you don’t have that many devices to control, this universal remote from RCA can connect with up to three devices. It’s a basic IR remote, so it won’t be able to connect to something like a Fire Stick. However, it will be able to connect to Roku and Apple TV boxes. There are preset buttons that make it easier to toggle between TV, DVD player and satellite box.
5. Inset 4-in-1 Universal Remote
This universal remote isn’t as flashy or feature-driven the Logitech option we’ve mentioned, but if you want a remote that doesn’t require a Master’s degree to install, this Inset remote is a solid bet. Using a laptop or smartphone, and the Inset website, simply select your devices in a drop-down menu and pair them with the remote. The Inset universal remote connects to four devices and has macro buttons, which can control a handful of functions with one push of a button.
6. Coolux Universal Remote
SAMSUNG REPLACEMENT REMOTE
It’s a little hard to call this a true universal remote, because its main purpose is to replace remotes for Samsung LCD, LED, and HDTVs. However, this remote will work with any Samsung TVs, regardless of make or model, which makes it a convenient option for those in the Samsung universe. You won’t need to pair this device, or go through any lengthy installation with this remote, though. It looks and feels, and controls your Samsung TV exactly like the stock Samsung remote would, so there won’t be any sort of learning curve when you are using this remote. You won’t be getting much in terms of smart capabilities; this remote can’t control your smart home devices or use voice commands of any kind — but it should work seamlessly with your older Samsung TV. Simply put, it’s an inexpensive replacement remote, if that’s all you need.
7. GE Backlit Universal Remote Control
While most remote controls come in black or gray, this remote from GE comes in blue, purple or even pink. The buttons are also fully backlit, making the remote easier to use in the dark. You can connect to up to four different devices, and there are preset buttons for “TV,” “DVD,” “Strm” (for streaming boxes) and “Aux.” Since it’s an IR remote, you won’t be able to use it to control some streaming devices like the Fire TV stick.
8. Nettech LG20 Universal Remote Control
BEST LG REPLACEMENT
This universal remote from Nettech uses infrared, allowing it to control a variety of media devices ranging from DVD players to TVs to some streaming boxes. However, it’s specifically designed for LG TVs and can pair with most models without the need for any setting.