Best Universal Remote Controle 2018-2019:Reviews and Guide 2020
Best Universal Remote Of 2018-2019 -As the name implies, a universal remote can be used in lieu of multiple control devices. Your TV set, DVD, gaming consoles, and even the lighting in your home can be programmed into one all-powerful remote control. Anyone can benefit from a universal remote – whether you are a techie or just a regular movie buff. This guide will later present a comparison of the top universal remote controls on the market for you to decide which one works best for your household.
There are models that can handle as much as 20 individual devices, while some can only be programmed for 4 or 5 items. Some universal remotes are packed with features like touch-screen LCD color displays and a glossy finish, to boot. As expected, these units are more expensive than regular models with standard features. Regardless of your technical level, there is a universal remote that will best suit your needs and preferences.
Best Remotes Of 2018-2019 If your entire home entertainment system is made up of only a few pieces of equipment such as a DVR, TV, and perhaps a DVD/Blu-ray player, a universal remote may not be necessary. However, if you have to shuffle between several individual remotes just to enjoy watching a good movie or TV show, then it is recommended that you get a universal remote. This will keep you from powering several components and switching inputs simultaneously. If you have a home theater system built around various content sources and an AV receiver, a universal remote will definitely make your life a lot easier. You may argue that AV receiver, cable DVR, and/or TV is capable of performing some universal control functions, these are most likely just the basics such as adjusting TV volume using your DVD remote.
A low-quality universal remote merely puts together the functions of various remotes into one unit without any added value. On the other hand, a premium-quality universal remote gets rid not only of remote shuffling and unnecessary clutter. It also minimizes button pushes by integrating several actions into a single press of the button. Thus, you do not have to turn your television set on, switch the HDMI input, power the AV receiver and change inputs, and switch the Blu-ray player on – in that order – before pressing “Play” to start enjoying the movie. With a single command, such as “Play Movie,” you can execute all these actions. These bundled commands are also known as “macros” or “activities.”
In the past, this functionality can only be found in professionally-programmed, high-end systems, but nowadays, even some comparatively inexpensive models (such as those in the Logitech Harmony line) are capable of performing similar complex tasks. While the idea of getting another remote may initially seem ridiculous and merely a waste of hard-earned money, the convenience and other benefits you stand to gain make the extra spending all worth it. Just imagine having a single, powerful remote in your hand instead of multiple remotes.
Selection and Testing Criteria Used in This Guide
To be worthy of being “universal,” a remote control must be able to handle a typical audio/video enthusiast’s various equipment, which on average is usually 5 or 6: DVD/Blu-ray player, TV/projector, media player, surround sound receiver, as well as one or two gaming systems. A remote that can handle at least 8 devices will usually be sufficient. For the average user, an infrared remote may be enough to do the job. This is because most devices are reliant on IR control, and not on IP. Your options, however, may be limited if you have a PS 3 or 4, and you want your remote to support it.
You can find myriads of cheap replacement remotes on the market today, but these offer very little functionality. Just try searching on Amazon as well as other online sellers. In the past, Sony had a line of quality universal remotes, but it has been discontinued. So did Philips that used to offer a number of programmable remotes in their Pronto line. Interestingly enough, a company aptly called Universal Remote Control was the niche leader with their URC-R40 among the bestsellers. However, they have since shifted their focus on professional-application control systems almost on an exclusive basis.
When shopping for a universal remote control, consider how many devices you’re planning to connect and use with it. If you’re planning to use the remote on a TV, a cable box, a stereo system, and a gaming console, there’s really no need to go for the most feature-rich offerings on the market. If you plan to use the remote in multiple rooms though, as well as for home automation devices such as lights and thermostat, a high-end remote will make your life much easier. See below for the best options you can buy now.
Top 10 Best Universal Remote 2018-2019
9.Harmony Ultimate Remote – RF Control – Black
Best Overall: Logitech Harmony Elite
For most people, the very best universal remote is the Logitech Harmony Elite and, while it may be the most expensive, it’s well worth the price. Essentially, the Harmony Elite connects to a base station that is connected to your entertainment console, which allows the use of the remote anywhere in your home (even without direct line of sight). Certified to work with Amazon’s Alexa devices, there’s full voice control for up to 15 home entertainment and connected home devices. The full-color touchscreen allows easy swipe and tap for control of volume, movies, 50 favorite channels and even smart home devices such as LED lighting for automatic dimming when a movie starts.
Options such as “one touch activity” allows for automatic power on and switching to the right devices with the right settings. Additionally, features such as closed cabinet control let the Harmony Hub assist in controlling devices that are stored behind closed doors in cabinets. The Harmony smartphone app (Android and iOS) doubles as a separate universal remote, which is convenient in case you are charging the Harmony Elite in its charging station. While the pricing might turn some potential buyers away, if you want the most feature-rich universal remote on the market, the Harmony Elite is the one to own.
Best Budget: GE 33709
Available in a multitude of colors, the GE 33709 four-device universal remote is so budget-friendly you might just want to purchase it as an extra remote around the house. It can control up to four different audio and video components, including TVs, Blu-ray and DVD players, as well as streaming media players and soundbars. The expansive code library works with all major television manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony and Sharp. Powered by two AAA batteries, the GE can work for months on end before requiring battery replacement. Furthermore, the inclusion of features such as master volume control allows the GE to control the volume on every device that’s connected to the remote. One last highlight are the multicolored A, B, C and D buttons that let you easily access hardware favorites.
Best Streaming: Inteset INT-411 4-in-1
Pre-programmed right out of the box for Apple TV, Xbox One, Media Center and Roku, the Inteset INT-411 four-in-one universal remote is well worth a look. While streaming is the Inteset’s claim to fame, added features such as volume and channel lock allow an added layer of security from children, roommates or spouses who might want to change things around. When it comes to connecting directly to the television itself, the Inteset features a worldwide database of device codes for connecting to all the top television manufacturers by completely replacing their default remote controls. Furthermore, the Inteset takes its unique feature set up another level with macro programming that allows you to program up to 32 commands to a single button, so you can turn on/off all devices, switch inputs or change to a favorite channel.
Best Smartphone Control: Logitech Harmony
Featuring control of up to eight devices, the Logitech Harmony smart control works with over 270,000 devices from 6,000 brands, including cable TV boxes, Apple TV and Roku. The connectivity doesn’t stop there since the Harmony Smart offers a smartphone app for both Android and iOS that offers up to 50 favorite channel icons, volume control and media playback. Gone are the days of irritating on-TV keyboards. Instead, voice control is handled directly from your smartphone or tablet and speech recognition will help find your content faster. Beyond voice control, the Harmony excels at working with devices that are hidden in closed cabinets through its IR (infrared) and Bluetooth connectivity.
Best Compatibility: Logitech Harmony 350
The all-in-one Logitech Harmony 350 is an ideal universal remote with broad compatibility, including support for over 225,000 devices and 5,000 brands (and new devices are added regularly). Connecting the remote is a snap. Easily sync it directly to your computer and download the commands for all available devices and you’re ready to go. The Harmony 350 can replace up to eight other remotes with TV, cable and satellite, DVR, as well as a Blu-ray player all in one handheld device. Personalizing the Harmony 350 is just as easy as the original setup, thanks to one-touch buttons that allow you to jump to one of five favorite channels. The included “watch TV” button also allows for a one-touch automatic start of both your TV and cable/satellite box.
Best Value: Logitech Harmony 700
With a comfortable ergonomic design, the Logitech Harmony 700 reduces the need for multiple remote controls while working with six different devices simultaneously. The 23 programmable channel icons for selecting your favorite stations makes it simple to rapidly find your favorite channels. Past programming, the backlit controls allow for easy nighttime remote navigation that’s powered by AA batteries for months of activity before requiring replacement. All totaled, the Harmony 700 works with more than 225,000 devices from 5,000 plus brands (and more are always being added). Updating with new brands and devices is easily done through a connection to both PC and Mac computers and, while it won’t connect to smart home appliances, the Harmony 700 is an easy to use remote that won’t break the bank.
Best Basic: Philips SRP5018/27 8-in-1
With quick access buttons to both Netflix and Vudu, the Philips SRP5018/27 eight-in-one universal remote control is a standout budget model. It’s capable of supporting a slew of electronic devices, including cable and satellite boxes, DVRs, Blu-ray players, soundbars and streaming devices. The backlit device buttons are a nice touch for nighttime use and the remote has 12 months of battery life courtesy of two AA batteries. The Philips works with a full suite of television models through programmable function codes, including Samsung, Sony and Vizio (and they all require just a few minutes of setup). What it lacks in touchscreen and smart home function, the Philips lands right in the sweet spot of price and function.
Best Touchscreen: Logitech Harmony Ultimate
The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One remote control is a standout universal remote that can control up to 15 infrared devices. Compatible with more than 225,000 devices and 5,000 brands, the real highlight is the touchscreen that simplifies control over multiple devices. By touching a command prompt (for example, press “watch TV”) on the 2.4-inch screen and the Harmony Ultimate does the rest by turning on the television. The upgradeable Harmony Hub, sold separately, can add both infrared and Bluetooth capabilities for advanced options such as controlling smart home devices. The downloadable smartphone app fully unlocks the Hub’s feature set and allows for control over the 50 favorite channels directly from the remote and its touchscreen.
Best Smart Home: Logitech Harmony Companion
Controlling a total of eight devices, the Logitech Harmony Companion universal remote is a top pick for buyers looking to add monitoring of smart devices, too. Although it lacks a touchscreen or backlit buttons, the Harmony Companion does include Amazon Alexa certification. Beyond Alexa, the Harmony Companion works fantastically with other smart home devices such as Philip’s Hue lighting or Nest’s learning thermostat. The included Harmony Hub allows for even more device control, including those gadgets hidden between cabinet doors or walls (read: video game consoles). After a simple setup on the computer, the Harmony Companion is ready to work with more than 270,000 devices, including Apple TV, Roku and Sonos audio players.
Best Universal Remotes Reviews
1. Logitech Harmony Home Control Review
A unique system that allows you to control your home theater using your Android device, iPhone, or the simple remote included through a hub, the Harmony Home Control runs via RF, and not IR. Thus, component “line of sight” is not necessary. It is amazingly thin and light, and the battery can last for a full year. Operation is easy with the activity-based buttons including “Watch TV.” Updates have been made on previous versions to make initial setup a lot easier. The latter version probably offers the best value for your money as it has made your home entertainment system easier to enjoy than ever.
The universal remote is a hybrid, a cross between the Harmony 650 and more recent app-based models such as Beacon and Peel that utilize a hub or pod in distributing remote signals. Thus, you are guaranteed to enjoy the best of both types. Its pod is known as the “Harmony Hub” (sold separately at around 100 bucks) and a fully-functional remote system. The pod is the operation’s brains, storing setup info and software updates. It interfaces not only with the remote and the device, but also with Harmony’s cloud and your home network through Wi-Fi; and also the Harmony app through your iPhone and Android devices.
Unlike previous versions of Harmony models, you cannot setup the device using your PC. It has no surface or Windows phone app. You need an iOS or Android tablet or phone for the initial device setup. For details, you may visit Logitech’s support page and system requirements. The Harmony Hub is designed to be housed in the TV cabinet and send IR remote commands for your electronic devices. The pod’s is equipped with powerful infrared blasters that can bounce signals off furniture and walls for best results. Just like older versions, the new Harmony model’s signals can easily reach your gear.
Included in the package is a separate wired infrared blaster as well as another port for a second blaster (optional.) You can position the wired blaster to reach finicky or oddly-placed devices. If, for instance, you encounter issues with one of your devices like an Xbox 360, you can position the secondary blaster nearby to address the problem.
Aside from infrared, the pod can also send commands through Bluetooth to supported units such as Amazon Fire TV, PS3, and Nintendo Wii U and Wii. While the remote works seamlessly with the Amazon and Nintendo gadgets, you may encounter problems with PS3, in which case you may need to use Harmony’s PS3 adapter. PS4, meanwhile is not yet included in the list of the universal remote’s compatible devices. While Logitech is willing to include it, Sony isn’t too keen on exposing the PS4’s remote control profile.
Communication between the Hub and the remote happens via RF or radio frequency. It is not like standard infrared signals that need line of sight to connect. The system is quite responsive and would make you feel like using just any other regular remote. It is speedy and has no noticeable delays even while rapidly entering channels and navigating. If you have been using the usual IR-based universal remotes, the convenience offered by an RF remote would be a welcome change. You don’t have to bother pointing the remote directly to your devices as this will be an inconvenience especially when in the “turn on all” and “change inputs” stage.
When using the Harmony 650 and other older models, you need to point the clicker at the equipment for some time to make sure the commands are received. Only then will the device power up. The long time required to start up often leads to the user into thinking that the device isn’t working. With the Smart Control and the RF hub, that will never happen; and that makes the cost of the Harmony Home Control all worth it. In terms of physical attributes, the universal remote is lighter and thinner than standard remotes. The CR2032 wafer-like watch battery is primarily responsible for the sliver-slimness of the unit. Logitech claims that the battery is good for around 1 year.
One other great benefit is you don’t need to be in the same room as the gadget to operate it. If you forgot to turn off the TV in the kitchen and you have already moved to the living room, you can easily switch it off with the remote. Because the app uses the Wi-Fi in your home, and even cellular networks, you can control your system even from outside of your home – from anywhere in the globe, in fact.
The particular Logitech model can easily handle 8 various home theater devices. In our testing for this review, we set up a television, AV receiver and 6 various source devices. We also programmed an Xbox 360, Xbox One, cable DVR, 4k Projector, Amazon Fire TV, Roku 3, and PS3. The listed limit is 15 devices, so you can keep this in mind should you want more devices controlled by the remote. Not included in the limit are various home control devices like thermostats and lights, an unlimited number of which can be added, according to Logitech. Some users, in fact, claim that they were able to integrate at least 20 devices for home automation into the system.
2. Logitech Harmony 650 Review
The Harmony 650 is roughly divided into 3 main segments. The color LCD screen, a 1×1” square display, dominates the top section. While it is not “touch-screen,” an upgrade is possible – but it will cost you twice as much just to upgrade your system into a Harmony One. Instead, there are 2 buttons on either side and 1 at the bottom that allow you to select contextual items on-screen. Available choices are available simply by browsing through the additional screens.
The middle portion is equipped with a 5-way directional pad, volume, and channel controls, as well as a few standard DVR keys like Menu, Info, Guide, and Exit. The bottom section contains standard video transport controls such as play, pause, and rewind, among others, and a keypad that accommodates 12 digits. Aside from the LCD, the entire set of buttons are backlit; thus, you can conveniently use the remote even in poorly-lit areas of the house. The remote likewise boasts of a DVR and TiVo-optimized layout that is ideal for people who are always on the go.
There aren’t many models in this review that don’t have rechargeable power management options to speak of. The Harmony 650 remote is among them. What it does use are simple and plain AA batteries. While a docking cradle is believed to be the most optimal power management system, being able to use any battery brand you prefer can be more cost-effective in the long run. Because the remote is equipped with a motion sensor, the AA batteries can last longer, or at least just as long as rechargeable types of battery.
Regardless of the features and price points of their products, Logitech adheres to a set standard for its line of universal remotes. The Harmony 650, for one, is ergonomically-designed. It is convenient to use as it fits perfectly in your palm. It also has sculpted buttons that make it easy to locate the play, rewind, and stop buttons. Backlit controls are likewise available for hours of listening to CDs or watching DVDs. These are standard design elements to Logitech remotes, and not only to the Harmony 650, and this is something that consumers can take into consideration when on the market for a universal remote. With a database containing more than 200,000 devices of different brands and makes, it may take some time to get used to it. Once you do, however, everything becomes easy as pie.
Perhaps the greatest feature of the remote’s device library is its ability to download a device like a CD or DVD player now, and add other devices like gaming consoles or Blue-ray player after a year or once you have bought these devices. The device library allows you to use the Harmony 650 even after several years from now, as you continue to add newly-bought devices and de-programming equipment that you don’t use anymore.
To program devices into your universal remote, just connect the remote to a Mac or PC with internet access using the USB cable included in the package. Then, find the devices that you currently have and program them into the remote. The entire process may take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. However, once you have programmed everything and are starting to enjoy the convenience, the effort and time spent would be worth it. Pretty much every device we threw at it was compatible during testing, except our PS4.
To sum it all up, the Logitech Harmony 650 can make life a lot simpler. It is an all-inclusive and smart model. While the universal remote can be programmed for just 5 devices at a time, this should be more than enough if you do not have a lot of remotes to shuffle through.
3. Logitech Harmony Elite Review
If you are looking for more than the vast control database, programming ease, and smart activities that the previous remotes mentioned in this review have, and you want a cool touchscreen model to make your home theater come to life, and have your smartphones integrated into the remote control system, then you may want to check out the model that sits atop the Logitech line of universal remotes – the Harmony Elite.
Dislodging the Ultimate Home as the flagship model in the harmony line-up, the Elite boasts of a built-in color touchscreen. No need to press on hard buttons to turn your TV on, watch a movie or listen to music. Just scroll on the screen up and down to select your desired activity, and tap. You will then be brought to a page that is customized specifically for the desired activity. Control options can go very detailed and deep. You can even customize the activity names or create your own.
The Elite is also ideal if you control a lot of devices as it can handle up to 15, more than the usual 8 in other models. In theory, the remote can replace as many as 15 remotes. You can also add smart home functionalities such as lights and thermostats. With the Harmony Elite, you can keep your home theater system in a gear closet or cabinet. The remote is equipped with 2 infrared blasters that can be stationed in front of the doors of the cabinet the hide your devices.
Similar to other Harmony Hub-based remotes, the Harmony app can be used aside from the actual remote functions. Likewise, similar to other Harmony remotes with Hub, the Elite can be used with numerous smart home appliances such as LIFX and Philips Hue lights, Insteon and SmartThings hubs, Nest thermostats, Sonos wireless speakers, as well as the IFTTT app. You can connect these products to the Hub through your home’s Wi-Fi network.
Using Alexa’s IFTTT channel and Amazon Echo, you can come up with voice control recipes for any Harmony Hub-based remote system. Through a simple setup with a set of voice commands, you can create recipes that can switch your complex home theater system on or off. For an additional few bucks, you can get Logitech’s Z-Wave and Zigbee hub bridge that will allow you to add more smart home devices.
The Harmony Elite, to put it simply, sits at the top of the DIY remote niche and is a joy to use. It is a responsive and polished professionally-installed system, but it costs a bit more than the average universal remote.
4. Logitech Harmony Ultimate Review
A sleek universal remote control, the Logitech Harmony Ultimate is sleek and boasts of Wi-Fi, RF, IR, and Bluetooth connectivity, and a 2.4” color touchscreen that can recognize a number of gestures. It can be web-programmed via Windows PCs or Macs, but allows command editing even without connecting to a computer. It can be recharged using the included cradle, can control as many as 15 devices, and offers impressive options for customization. It can be interchanged with iPhones’ and Android phones’ app-based controls.
If a manufacturer releases a product named “Ultimate,” there must be a good reason behind it, and consumers will tend to expect much from the product. In this case, the Harmony Ultimate can be considered a dream universal remote. Logitech has added Bluetooth and RF capabilities to the previous models’ IR touchscreen features. Unlike IR connectivity, line of sight is not necessary for Bluetooth or RF; thus, the remote’s commands can easily pass through doors and walls, which is perfect for use with devices tucked away in cabinets and closets.
It is worth mentioning that with Bluetooth capability, you get a powerful remote that is natively compatible with the Sony PS3 that does not have IR capability. Bluetooth is also compatible with Nintendo’s Wii U and Wii game consoles. Wi-Fi connectivity is another major boost as it lets you update the settings of your remote via a computer or even the remote control itself, and wirelessly sync them to your Mac or PC using a USB cable – without tethering the device to the computer such as when using the Harmony 650. You can also use free iPhone and Android apps to handle your devices. This will allow you to use your phone in lieu of the Ultimate. The remote is simply packed with practically every feature you would want in a universal remote. While the design is similar to the Harmony Touch, the Ultimate is sleek and comes with a few improvements particularly in terms of ergonomics..
The Ultimate is part of Logitech’s line of affordable Smart Control solutions. However, instead of a touchscreen, it comes bundled as a new and glossy, albeit very basic remote that has no display. If you have a complicated setup, or you just want a dedicated touchscreen universal remote that also comes with hard buttons, you may be better off with the Ultimate as it can handle more devices. Otherwise, the Smart Control package offers better value, and is probably the top choice in the present Harmony line-up.
In some ways, you choice of remote depends on how badly you want a touchscreen model as it practically replaces some physical buttons. If you prefer pressing virtual numbers on a touchscreen to change channels instead of physical buttons, then a touchscreen model will do just fine, but it may take some time to get used to, especially if you’re accustomed to using clickers from your satellite box or cable service provider.
On the other hand, a touchscreen offers convenient access to your favorite programs. Harmony’s software simplifies the selection process as it allows you to choose as much as 50 channels to add to the remote’s grid of icons, but because of the screen’s relatively small size, some scrolling may be necessary just to find what you are looking for from a long list of choices. As previously mentioned, a number of gesture controls are supported. You can simply swipe up or down to adjust the TV’s volume while watching. By swiping sideways (right or left), you can scan through channels. Other remote control actions may be assigned to specific gesture controls or buttons. Sequences or “macros” can likewise be added.
The rechargeable battery can last for a few days with a single charge. However, it is sealed into the body of the remote and cannot be replaced. This means that the death of the battery will signal the remote’s demise as well. While the battery’s useful life should last for several years, there is no word from Logitech as to the exact life expectancy in terms of years. The more you use the Ultimate and the more you personalize the settings, the more you will love to use it. Some people prefer the Ultimate because of its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, features that add convenience to using the remote for wireless syncing.
The touchscreen is an improved version of older models. Same goes for the gesture controls. The overall design is decent although the physical layout of the buttons can use some improvements. Another plus is the vibration feedback feature, a new addition. The tilt sensors that automatically wakes the remote once you pick it up is also a good feature. In previous models, you have to shake the remote a bit to wake it up. While you can use the smartphone apps in lieu of the remote, it is still more convenient to just pick up the remote if it is within reach, unless of course you want to try using the apps just to see how they work. Likewise, the apps have lots of room for improvement and the interface for tablets is practically non-existent.
This review, however, considers the apps as mere bonuses that allow other members of the household to have something to use as a remote. They just have to make sure that the proper apps are downloaded and the gadget is used within the Hub’s range. Set up is simple and you don’t have to worry about dealing with security issues. It is also important not to “duel” with other family members by using your own remotes. Although this review of the Ultimate mentions a number of downsides, it also appreciates Logitech’s efforts in coming up with the model. The Ultimate is simple enough for an ordinary user to set up and use, while it offers a host of functional elements. Simply put, the Ultimate is generally a very impressive product.
To sum it up, the Ultimate is perfect for users with myriads of devices. It is also a better alternative to other products in its class. It may cost a bit more, but the benefits – specifically the minor improvements and the inclusion of the Hub – easily outweigh the extra budget needed.
5. Ray Super Remote Review
There is virtually nothing traditional about the Ray Super Remote. With a full touchscreen display, it does away with the mess of dozens of control buttons. Software updates can be downloaded via a Wi-Fi network. When connecting to devices, however, the device mainly uses IR. Thus, line of sight is necessary for this Super Remote.
A distinct advantage of this model over other universal remotes such as the Harmony Hub/smartphone app combos is the fact that app downloads are not necessary. The Super Remote likewise assists you in finding shows that you may find interesting to watch. This is because available choices as sorted by genre, and the remote can even give you heads up on when your preferred shows are broadcast. On the downside, the remote needs to be charged every day just like a smartphone. It can therefore be exasperating if you fail to have it charged the night before. Likewise, you can’t expect tactile feedback from the touchscreen that you usually expect from conventional remote buttons. Some users may find this irritating. However, if you fancy the idea of using a smartphone-like universal remote that is compatible with most big brands without actually using your smartphone, then the Ray Super Remote could be the answer.
6. URC Digital R50 Review
Actual product users love the URC Digital R50 primarily because of its “punch through” control for the onscreen display, transport and channel. With this feature, individual buttons can be programmed to perform various functions. For transport control, for instance, the play, stop, skip, and pause buttons, among others can be programmed to operate both DVR and DVD controls, and other components as well.
Another helpful function is the learning mode feature. While other universal remote models may offer the same function, the URC R50 has a device code selection and disjointed onscreen setup that makes it possible for more convenient installation and use of the feature on the URC device. Intended to be an all-in-one-remote, the R50 is ergonomically designed, though it may pale a bit in comparison with the Harmony 650 or the Harmony Home from Logitech, the two products we deem to be the top two on this list. The URC R50s front boasts of a unique design that many users find appealing. The buttons are logically organized, something that average users will appreciate.
While the R50 boasts of a color screen, it is not touchscreen. The channel and activity buttons can be viewed onscreen and the corresponding buttons are conveniently located at the side. There are likewise no docking cradle option, and rechargeable batteries for more efficient power management. Instead the device uses ordinary AA batteries that are easily available from any store. They also cost a lot cheaper than their rechargeable counterparts. No support and help options are available for the programmable remote. While a set up wizard or the learning mode feature makes it possible for onscreen programming, there is no user manual that we could find to speak of. There is likewise no accessible online technical support. The Universal Remote Control website, oddly enough, offers minimal information about their own products.
A lot of people are tickled by the idea of programming a universal remote system that does not require internet connection. In contrast to the Harmony line of universal remotes. The R50 relies heavily on its onscreen wizard for setup. It is also worth mentioning that the remote comes with a set of instructions in a single sheet. Thus, although not having to rely on the internet may work well for some, the absence of an online user manual (even in PDF format) or an interactive chat may be a big issue for other users.
During our testing, we encountered a minor issue with the remote’s setup wizard. while Logitech’s Harmony line are easy to find and program, the R50’s setup wizard requests for your selected devices make and model, instead of the device code. Then, it will try to match your input with the code that best suits your remote. It will now be your responsibility to test the code after the wizard setup has selected it for you. If the code does not work, then the entire process starts all over again until the wizard recommends another code, which, to put it bluntly, can be tedious.
Depending on your level of technical skill, your ability to work without a user’s guide, and the accuracy of the setup wizard in selecting the appropriate code on the first attempt, the entire configuration time may take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, longer in some instances.
7. URC RFS200 Review
The RFS 200 from URC is probably the most affordable remote that is equipped with a reliable RF control. It offers the choice to separately turn on your devices but maintains a master switch that integrates control of various devices such as your TV, DVD player, stereo and even your slow cooker – simultaneously. The volume control can also handle all the devices to make a surround home theater system easy to control without the need to swap or switch. It is compatible with virtually all types of stereos, MP3 docks, satellite radios, 8-track tape decks, and even lights.
Among the remote’s best features is the IR PowerBlaster that can significantly boost your RF range. At the same time, it converts the remote’s RF signal into IR before pushing it to older equipment to allow them to function without having to aim the remote. The only major drawback is the unit’s lack of frequency change. Thus, if your neighbor is using RF, control of your devices may accidentally be grabbed.
8. Sony RMVLZ620 Review
Once the undisputed standard for high-quality universal remotes, the dazzling Sony model of yesteryears is now sold at a heavily discounted price. This doesn’t mean that the RMVLZ620 is mediocre. It is just a bit outdated. The remote can control as many as 8 video or audio equipment, and comes with 12 assorted macro buttons that can be programmed to perform specific commands from your existing remotes that you want included. This can be quite a handy feature if you are trying to operate an obscure and strange gadget like a Betamax or a phonograph.
The remote is a fast learner and it does so in a straightforward manner – without any complex procedures or unnecessary step, and this is always a good thing. Sony universal remote can work with both new and old products. Thus, you would appreciate whether you just got the latest 4k TV for your living room, state of the art wireless speakers installed in the room, or you simply need a remote for your old Sony Trinitron.
It may not have a touchscreen display, and it may be lacking in back-lit buttons, but for its price, it can still prove to be a solid buy, especially if you are into classics.
9. URC WR7 Review
If you are willing to spend a few bucks more than what you would have to pay for an outdated Sony RMVLZ620, you would realize that the WR7 can actually do better in a lot of simple tasks than the Sony model. For one, the URC remote comes with a back-lit screen that allows you to see the buttons clearly even when the room lights are turned off. It likewise fits snugly in your palm with a less clunky and smoother back than the RMVLZ620. However the WR7’s buttons are a bit stiff, and you need to put in a bit of effort to make them work.
You can only control up to 7 devices with this URC remote, but it is packed with pre-programmed codes for practically everything you will need – from cable receiver to iPod dock. The remote is equipped with 13 micro buttons that are programmable for up to 20 functions each. This may come in handy if you need to accomplish complex tasks. The remote is likewise compatible with some of the top IR lights. Learning capabilities come with 4 favorite buttons that allow you to switch to your preferred channel instantly. Programming is easily and quickly obtained. The unit is also user-friendly, even for those who are not tech savvy.
A universal remote is one that can control multiple pieces of equipment from a single remote control, which should simplify the the enjoyment of your media gear … and save on elbow pain. You’ll also have quite a few options for selecting a unit, such as the best touch screen universal remote or best universal remote with WiFi connectivity. Such remotes are able to control TVs, set top boxes, optical disc players, audio systems, and other devices. Some are even able to work with your home automation system.
While you could pick up a very basic universal remote near the counter at the grocery store for a few bucks, the following units provide plenty of features and functionality. You should expect to pay $100 to $300 for a top end universal remote though.
What to Look for in the Best Universal Remote
Intuitive Options: For your universal remote to improve your experience with your television and other devices, it needs to have some “smart” options. Some universal remotes allow you to perform programming searches or provide suggestions on what type of new shows you might like. You will have to pay more for a universal remote with these features, though.
Ease of Use: If you’re the kind of person who sees all of the buttons on a universal remote and has a panic attack, thinking back to your days of using a scientific calculator in high school math class, you will want a remote that’s easy to use. Some universal remotes incorporate touch screens, programmable buttons, or voice commands to simplify your interaction with them.
Incorporating All Kinds of Technology: The best universal remotes can control more than just the TV obviously. After all, if you’re purchasing a universal remote, you want it to run your set top box, DVD/Blu-ray player, and sound system. But some newer universal remotes can control other smart appliances in your home too. Just make sure any universal remote you pick has compatibility features so it can handle any older devices in your home.
Mistakes to Avoid
Not Preparing for Troubleshooting: Most universal remotes will work well with most devices, but you’re probably going to have to do some troubleshooting for a couple of connections. This is normal. Think about how many hundreds of different devices are out there, and it’s tough to connect easily with all of them. So be prepared to do a little troubleshooting.
Assuming You Can Rely on a Smartphone App: You may be tempted to use a remote app on your smartphone, rather than purchasing a standalone universal remote. And while this does work well for some, there are some inherent problems with this setup. If the app is only on your phone, it can be frustrating to try to share the smartphone among everyone who wants to watch TV,. And if your smartphone battery is constantly at a low level, using it as a remote while it’s connected to a charging cord is a hassle. Moreover, generally speaking, the delay from smartphone to the remote can be so slow it will be impossible for channel flipping and performing repetitive tasks.
Most Important Universal Remote Features
- Infrared (IR) is the most common method of a remote control connecting with a device. IR is inexpensive, but it does require line of sight between the remote and device.
- Radio frequency (RF) overcomes the line of sight problem found with IR remotes, allowing for a connection between the remote and a device inside a closed cabinet, where line of sight is not possible. However, because very few devices can accept RF signals, the remote likely will need a device to turn the RF signal into IR, such as a repeater.
- WiFi networks can provide a means for a universal remote to connect with devices on the network. If you have a media center or home theater, you may want a remote that can make a connection over WiFi.
- Some remotes contain display screens, giving you messages that allow you to make decisions specific to the device you’re controlling.
- Other remotes use the display screen as a touch screen, allowing you to make some selections with the touch screen, which may be easier for some people to use, as they’re likely familiar with smartphone interfaces. It also allows for more customization to match your setup.
Controlling Other Devices
- Most universal remotes naturally are made to connect to TVs, set top boxes, optical disc players, and sound systems.
- However, you may want to pick a remote that also can control home appliances in a smart home environment, such as Logitech’s offering.
Mobile Device Apps
- Another option is to turn your smartphone or tablet into a universal remote by downloading an app.
- A couple of the best universal remote app options for Apple products are Simple Control and MyURemote, though you might need an IR blaster attachment
- A best universal remote app Android option is Touchsquid, as well as SURE Universal. Of note, some Android handsets have a built-in IR blaster, making them much more practical solutions.
Which Best Universal Remote Is Right For You?
Universal remote controls are great pieces of hardware — as long as they work correctly, that is. While it’s handy to replace three, four, or more remote controls with a single unit, it needs to be easy to set up and use, while also making a quick connection with the varying devices you have in your home. Whether you prefer a traditional universal remote with dozens of buttons or a touch screen control option, you have a host of great options for picking universal remotes, none of which will require pressing buttons with an elbow.
This week’s honorable mentions goes out to the Sony PS3 Media Remote Control, which many of you said you purchased to use with your PS3, but actually use to control your whole home entertainment center. It’s easily programmed, has all the buttons and commands you need, and works pretty well without needing other remotes to step in all the time. Obviously it’s ideal for people with a PS3, as opposed to folks who may not already have one, but it’s definitely a nice universal remote nevertheless.
In more hilarious nominees, we have to call out the Doctor Who 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote, or if you’re more of a fan of the 10th, the 10th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote. Funny and jokey nominations aside, these actually got a surprising amount of support in the nominations thread. Here’s to you, whovians.
Speaking of fan nominations, we’ll tip our hats to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Phaser Universal Remote. Because it just wouldn’t be fair otherwise, and who doesn’t like the idea of firing a phaser at their TV to be rid of some annoying program they’d rather not be watching?