Best Universal Remote for 2022

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A universal remote is an amazing device to own if you have a serious, or even semi-serious, home theater system with three or more components. While immersive sound and giant screens are fun, it’s more confusing than practical to manage an army of remote controls: TV remote control, DVD player remote control, remote control for your games console, soundbar, streaming box, etc.

The best universal remote can unify all your clickers – the ones that control your sound barApple TV, Blu-ray player, Roku streaming stick and many other devices – in a single wand with buttons in a way that can seem almost magical, especially because you never have to search for another remote.

All of the best universal remote options have more intuitive buttons, superior ergonomics, and better feel than standard remotes. Many remote controls have apps to make sure they work with your mobile device, whether you have a androidan iPhone or other smartphone. A universal remote can also work with smart devices and voice control systems such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

My family and I have used many of the smart remotes on this list as control devices for my main home theater system for months or years at a time. At various times several of the remotes on this list have been used to control my televisionsAV receivers, game consoles, Blu-ray player, Roku streamers and even a cable box DVRs. My family uses the system as much as I do and my main criteria in a clever The universal remote or universal remote app makes it simple enough for a child to use, even with all those buttons.

Here are my picks for the best universal remote currently available, in ascending order of price.

Update, April 2021: Logitech has announced that it Harmony remote line off, which forms the bulk of our recommendations below. However, the company is committed to continuing to support the product line and updating the software.

Read more: The best Google Assistant and Google Home devices for 2022

Logitech Harmony

Logitech Harmony wrote the book on universal remotes and these are the most basic clickers I can recommend for a smart home. The main appeal of a cheaper, non-Harmony-based smart remote, or the device that comes with your set-top boxes, is activity-based control. Press the “Watch TV” buttons to use as a TV remote or the “Listen to Music” buttons and the Logitech Harmony remote will turn on all relevant devices (such as your smart TV, Blu-ray player, and receiver AV), switches to the correct inputs and maps the keys to this activity: Volume to receiver and Channel up-down to box, for example.

Unlike more expensive Logitech Harmony options, which use a universal remote app on your phone for setup and control, you’ll need to use Harmony’s Mac or PC software to program the remote (needless to say, a remote app is more convenient). The 650 and 665 also rely on IR (infrared) codes emitted from the front of the device – if you want point-anywhere convenience, you’ll have to spend on a system with a hub.

The 665 is the only smart remote currently listed on Harmony’s site, but the 650 is identical (aside from the color and number of devices each can control) and can often be found for less, especially refurbished. .

Read our Logitech Harmony 650 review.

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Caavo’s Control Center is one of two non-Harmony smart remotes on this list and is also the second-cheapest device at $59, but there’s a catch. To get the advanced features of Caavo, you will have to pay the service fee. It costs $4 per month, $40 per year, or $160 for the life of the remote.

Unlike Harmony, Caavo Control Center includes an HDMI switch in addition to the smart remote. You plug your stuff into the switch and it takes care of the rest, including automatically recognizing your gear during setup. Caavo has its own intelligent voice control system and on-screen display to help you find content to watch on your streaming devices. The universal remote itself is simple and elegant, and the rangefinder is gold. Like the hub-based Harmonys below, Caavo doesn’t require line of sight (the switch acts as the hub) and the remote will also work with a voice command from Alexa and Google Home speakers in homes with multiple devices.

Read our overview of the Caavo Control Center.

Mari Benitez/CNET

The Hub is the only remote control device on this list that doesn’t actually include a physical remote device or buttons. Instead, you control everything using the Harmony app for smartphones (Android or iOS) – or by talking to your Amazon Alexa or Google Home speaker. The smart hub itself nestles deep in your AV cabinet, sending infrared, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network signals to your gear. This Harmony smart control is a great system if you prefer the Harmony app, but for most people, investing in a real smart device (perhaps one with a smartphone app) is worth the extra few bucks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

My pick for the best universal remote for the money is the Harmony Companion, a real remote tied to a Harmony Hub. Since the Harmony hub handles sending the actual command, you don’t need to point the smart device at the infrared sensor and risk one of your devices missing a command, resulting in confusion. and delay. The Harmony Companion doesn’t just manage your entertainment devices, the smart remote can also communicate with select home automation devices like Philips Hue lights. The smart home device is smooth and easy to hold and the battery lasts for months. In my years of using the Harmony Companion at home, the main things I’ve missed are backlighting behind the buttons and a rangefinder.

Read our Logitech Harmony Companion review.

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The Wacky Cube is a mashup of universal remotes, the Fire TV 4K streamer, and the Amazon Echo speaker, making it the king of your smart home devices. It comes with a device but its buttons are sparse and rudimentary: the real control of the device is via your voice. The Cube has an infrared transmitter to control your equipment and a microphone sensitive enough to hear your commands over the noise of the music. On the other hand, you will have to keep your old remotes (even the non-smart ones) for many functions.

This universal control remote is often sold for as low as $80 or less, so definitely wait for a sale on this device – or Prime Day – before buying it.

Read our Fire TV Cube review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now we’re getting into big-spend universal remote control territory. The main draw of the Elite remote on the Harmony Companion is its screen and for most users it’s just not worth it. The touchscreen makes this remote more versatile than cheaper models with buttons, especially for calling up favorite channels or the Roku app, and the full backlight is excellent. Unfortunately, the touchscreen and backlight consume a lot of battery power, so you (and your family) will have to remember to regularly park the smart remote in its docking station.

Read our Logitech Harmony Elite review.

More smart home and home theater recommendations

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