All products and services featured by IndieWire are independently selected by IndieWire editors. However, IndieWire may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
If a year of quarantining and online impulse shopping has left you with an improved home theater setup, you’re not alone. Between TVs, streaming devices, gaming consoles, Blu-Ray players, and speakers, our homes are more high tech than ever before. And that’s just on the entertainment side. Everything from lighting to thermostats is becoming automated, making it nearly impossible to do almost anything without some kind of gadget, and keeping track of all the remotes can be challenging. That’s where universal remotes come in.
Universal remotes work just like regular TV remotes, except they can be programmed to operate dozens of devices at a time, which of course means you’ll only need one remote for your TV, music, gaming systems, and even your lights and thermostat. To help you pick the right one, we rounded up a list of the best universal remotes to purchase no matter your budget.
Whether you’re a movie buff who’s constantly looking to upgrade your home theater, a gamer with multiple consoles, or simply someone who’s tired of keeping track of a million controllers, a universal remote is a great way to simplify your life. Below, find eight of our favorites, to see which one is right for you. If you’re in the market for other tech gadgets check out best over-ear headphones, and deals on essential gadgets for techies.
Logitech’s Harmony is the biggest name in the universal remote game, and it isn’t hard to see why. This powerhouse is compatible with over 270,000 devices, and can control TVs, gaming consoles, and even smart home devices like overhead lights and Nest thermostats. The hub gives you the choice of using the Companion remote or your phone to control your devices, maximizing your flexibility without overwhelming you.
If the Logitech Harmony was intriguing to you, but you still want to streamline your entertainment experience even more, you can just buy the hub without the remote. This effectively turns your smartphone into a universal remote through the Harmony app. It’s a great choice for anyone trying to maximize their control while minimizing their hardware.
On the other hand, if you saw the Logitech Harmony Companion and thought “I still want more,” the company offers a premium option in the form of the Harmony 950. This remote contains an easy to use 2.4” touchscreen, as well as 20 percent more battery life than other Logitech remotes. It also comes with a multitude of customization options, allowing you to automate your nightly routine so that you can keep all your attention on your “Bridgerton” binge.
It isn’t quite a universal remote per se, but this voice-activated assistant is a great way to control your entertainment system with just one device. The Fire TV Cube utilizes Amazon’s Alexa technology to control your television, streaming devices, and overhead lighting just by saying commands. If even picking up a universal remote and pressing a button is too much work for you, this is the move!
Logitech’s budget offering, the Harmony 665, is a no frills universal remote that still manages to optimize your at-home audiovisual experience more efficiently than just about any other brand on the market. This one can’t control lights or thermostats, and it lacks the touchscreen of the 950. But for less than a quarter of the price, it’s a great way to dip a toe into universal remotes.
If you’re not a gamer and smarthome technology isn’t on your radar, it can still be helpful to pick up a simple universal remote to control your TV, music, Blu-Ray player, and streaming devices. In that case, the SofaBaton U1 Universal remote fits the bill perfectly. This stripped down controller allows you to seamlessly manage your cable, Apple TV, Roku, and more without any unnecessary distractions. It’s sure to make your life easier, and provides a fantastic return on its low cost.
The BroadLink RM4 Pro is another wireless option that relies on your smartphone and voice commands to control the devices in your home. It’s more geared towards appliances and smarthome technology, but it does offer TV, audio, and DVD controls for entertainment lovers. The reliance on Wi-Fi means that it is not compatible with most gaming consoles, though, so take that into consideration if you’re a gamer. Beyond that, this is a fantastic high-tech option at an entry level price.
If you lost or broke your current TV remote and are simply looking for an easy replacement, why not get one that can control a few other devices as well? This minimalist remote from Phillips works on a variety of smart TVs, as well as Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming players. It doesn’t come with any bells and whistles, but if simplicity is what you seek, it’s worth picking up.