A universal remote allows you to control anything and everything in your living room with one controller. The go-to choice for years was Logitech Harmony remotes, but now that they’re out of the game, here are the best alternatives. Instead of juggling several remotes sitting in a box by the couch, get one of these and up your living room game.
These days universal remotes aren’t quite as popular as they once were, with most people using a smart TV, smart speakers, and some sort of streaming service or two. That said, a universal remote is still a great way to streamline your entire home theater setup. Just make sure you get the right one for your needs. Here’s what to look for.
- Consolidation: When you buy a universal remote, the end goal is consolidation. Being able to control everything with one device. And if you’re only trying to operate a TV, streaming device, and maybe a soundbar, get something simple yet effective. You don’t need all the bells and whistles if you only have a few devices to manage.
- Features: No matter how many things you want to control, make sure you know what features you want and need. Whether that’s an IR blaster, reprogrammable buttons, Bluetooth support, or the ability to enter device codes to pair anything and everything to the remote. From a simple TV to smart home lighting, speakers, a game console, or even that old DVD player you use occasionally.
- Platforms: And finally, you’ll want to look for a remote that supports the devices and services you enjoy in your house. A few don’t work with Amazon or Alexa, some are tailored for Apple TV users, and select models are built for a specific device and that device only, like a Roku box. Keep these things in mind as you look through the options below.
With Logitech’s Harmony line discontinued, the best overall alternative has to be Amazon’s Fire TV Cube. Plus, it’s a lot more than just a remote. The Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s best streaming media player right now. It offers access to hundreds of streaming options, HDR video, 4K, and voice controls.
However, what makes the Fire TV Cube a great Logitech Harmony alternative is the built-in IR blaster. That way, it can do fancy stuff like streaming Netflix and control your TV, soundbar, receiver, and much more. It also supports HDMI-CEC for devices that plug directly into your TV. Essentially it runs everything and controls everything all in one fair-priced package.
So, if you want to do some “Amazon Prime and binge time,” tell Alexa to turn down the lights, turn up the volume, and put on a good flick.
The Inteset 4-in-1 (INT-422) universal remote’s main priority is to be a streamer’s best friend and control everything. Whether that’s Netflix, Apple TV, Roku, or your Xbox, this comes pre-programmed right out of the box to work for them all. Additionally, it supports a vast database of device codes to connect to TV’s new and old, soundbars, DVD players, and much more.
We really like the Inteset because it’s meant for streaming while still being great at everything else. As you can see, it has a ton of buttons with backlit keys, programmable buttons, and volume or channel lock options to prevent your kids from changing the channel. Even better, you can program up to 32 commands to a single button. That way, one tap will turn on everything you own, set the volume, and even switch to a specific channel. It’s pretty powerful while still being affordable.
If you just want to control a TV, a DVD or streaming box, and maybe a soundbar, this is the best cheap universal remote control. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s hard to beat for the price. It can’t learn commands via infrared, but GE’s huge list of manufacturer device codes means it can control thousands of devices, both new and old.
As you can see, the buttons are aplenty, so you’ll be able to manage everything in your home theater. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it comes in several different faux aluminum colors to choose from. Additionally, you can save a few bucks and get it without LED-backlit keys if you’re on a really tight budget.
GE Backlit Universal Remote Control for Samsung, Vizio, LG, Sony, Sharp, Roku, Apple TV, TCL, Panasonic, Smart TV, Streaming Players, Blu-Ray, DVD, Simple Setup, 4-Device, Silver, 48844
At just $11 you won’t find a better universal remote.
The SofaBaton U1 remote could easily take the top spot on our list, as it’s one of the best overall remote setups for any situation. We say that because it’s a powerful universal remote with all the bells and whistles, reprogrammable keys, a scroll wheel, plus a companion app so you can control the TV from a smartphone. That’ll come in handy if you (or the kids) inevitably lose the remote for a day. Plus, that name is just awesome.
This universal remote comes pre-programmed for all the popular streaming devices these days and supports over 500,000 devices. Then it syncs to the cloud so it always has the latest device codes if you want to add something new to your home theater. You’ll love the LED screen at the top, too, which displays the current device ensuring you don’t accidentally change the wrong thing. And finally, it has four IR buttons that can be reassigned or do macro functions to control 10 devices with one tap.
And finally, we wanted to recommend the entire line of Sideclick remotes. The Roku model is pictured above, but they offer remotes for most major devices: Amazon, Apple, Roku, Chromecast, and more. It’s essentially an add-on accessory that snaps to the side of your remote. Now, the remote you’re already familiar with has extra programmable A/B keys, not to mention volume, channel, and input controls.
It basically supercharges the boring plain remote that comes with most streaming devices or Apple TV set-top boxes these days and is an affordable way to get a little more out of your current home theater and remote situation.