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As technology and consumer electronics continue to progress, there are more and more devices being used in daily life -- and more devices mean more remotes. It's not uncommon to have a remote for your TV, Apple TV, cable box, streaming device, game console, and sound system. That's only considered a basic setup for most home theaters. With the rise of streaming over the years, along with the uptick in binge-worthy shows, home theater setups are booming.
Most people have been spending more money improving their home theater, and with that will come many new remotes. Instead of trying to juggle all these different remotes for different devices, why not program one single remote to control them all?
Also: The best TVs
Features: Control up to 15 devices | Bluetooth compatible | OLED Display
Probably the best overall value is found in this universal remote option, making it our top pick. At 7.7 x 1.9 x 1.1 inches and weighing 5.4 ounces, this device is middle-of-the-pack in terms of size and weight. While it may not come with a lot of the fascinating features that some other options on this list do, it will get the job done and for a reasonably low price. Costing around $50, this remote is the cheapest on this list, but it can still control up to 15 devices and works both on infrared reading and Bluetooth connectivity.
Additionally, the app-based setup will help get it set up faster than some of the other options.
Features: Control up to 15 different devices | 50 favorite channels | Mobile app: Android & iOS
Despite being discontinued by Logitech in 2021, you can still purchase the Logitech Harmony Elite universal remote at select retailers and the company plans to continue to maintain the Harmony database and software; therefore, it still earns a spot on our list.
The dimensions of this Harmony remote are 7.6 x 2.1 x 1.1 inches with a weight of 5.8 ounces and it comes with a battery charging dock. There are three distinct features that help to separate this remote from the others on this list, with two of them being positive and one being negative. The two positive traits are that this remote has a touch screen, which makes it much more versatile than standard buttons, and it can control up to 15 different devices, which should be more than enough to cover most home theaters.
The only negative -- but it's a relatively big one -- is the price. You should expect to spend somewhere over $500 for this remote. While that price is a little high, it's unlikely that you will find a better option any time soon.
Features: Controls up to 18 devices | 48 favorite channels | 100-foot range
This universal remote can control up to 18 devices, making it the most versatile option on our list. The device's color screen has three main pages, and each device you add on can add up to eight pages.
With up to 100 feet of range, this remote can control your devices from afar. In addition, you can program multiple commands from a single button to customize how you use the remote. Just be mindful that since there are lots of customized commands and up to 18 devices you can connect to it, it might take some time to fully program and set up this remote.
Features: Controls up to 8 devices | 32-foot range | Backlit numbers
If you are looking for a plain and simple universal remote to watch TV and movies, then this is the one. While it doesn't contain any of the incredible features of the other options on this list, it doesn't have the hefty price tag either. At 7 x 2.24 x 1 inches and weighing 3.2oz, this is one of the smallest and lightest remotes on this list.
While this remote will only control eight options, it can control a wide variety of smart TVs, Blu-ray players, sound systems, and even some streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Its simple design includes directional buttons for navigation, volume, and channel controls, as well as the standard number pad with backlit numbers. Perhaps the most important detail is this remote can be purchased for around $10.
Features: Controls compatible soundbars and A/V receivers | Built-in Alexa voice control | 16GB of storage
This all-in-one media player replaces the need for a remote and lets you use your voice for commands instead. It has 16GB of storage and supports Dolby Atmos audio and 4K Ultra HD video. You can even utilize Alexa commands when the TV is off to check the weather or turn off the lights.
While the Fire TV Cube acts as a one-for-all universal remote replacement for most TV brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, Toshiba, TCL, RCA, and VIZIO, it isn't compatible with all brands, so check here to see if your TV will work with the Fire Cube.
The best overall universal remote is the SofaBaton U1 since it can connect with several different devices and is the best-priced remote for all of its included features.
# of devices controlled
App-based setup, connects via Bluetooth
Logitech Harmony Elite
Touch screen, Alexa enabled, mobile app
Universal Remote Control MX-450
Color display screen, 32MB of memory
Can control some streaming services
Fire TV Cube
1 TV at a time
Alexa enabled, 16GB of storage, Dolby Atmos audio, and 4K Ultra HD video
Before purchasing a universal remote, it's important to consider a few factors, such as how many devices you want to control, what kind of special features (if any) you want it to have, and what price you're willing to spend. Any options on this list are great picks -- it just depends on if you're looking for a simple universal remote or a more high-tech one.
Choose this universal remote...
If you want...
The best overall option.
Logitech Harmony Elite
To splurge on a universal remote.
Universal Remote Control MX-450
A remote that controls up to 18 devices.
A no-frills universal remote with basic controls.
Fire TV Cube
An Alexa-controlled media player that replaces a physical remote.
We chose these universal remotes after extensive research. We compared factors like pricing, reviews (both good and bad), different features that make each universal remote stand out, and how many devices each universal remote can control.
This answer depends solely on the complexity of your home theater setup. If you only have two remotes then no, bundling them together is probably not worth the money.
However, if you have more than five remotes, and use them often, then a universal remote will pay for itself in no time.
The short answer to this question is yes, you can use your phone as a universal remote. It might require the purchasing of some more equipment, but since your phone uses infrared signals -- just like plenty of other electronic devices -- it is entirely possible.
The setup will probably be more complex than using a universal remote, but it might save some money.
The most important factors when looking for a universal remote will vary for each person, but overall it will come down to three different categories: The number of compatible devices the remote will work with, the overall number of devices that can be controlled by it, and the features of the remote itself.
Buying a universal remote that doesn't pair with certain brands or types of technology will severely hinder how effective it will be to you. Additionally, if you have a dozen devices that need to be paired, but the remote can only handle five, then it's a waste of money. In the event that you have a few remotes that are evenly matched, then the deciding factors should be features such as a touch screen, voice control, or automatic pairing.
Yes, you can set up your universal remote to work on Roku TV. Check out this helpful guide from Roku with detailed instructions.
Here are a few other options to look into: