Like the Companion, it also works with Alexa and Google Assistant. A good universal remote not only eliminates coffee-table clutter and the remote shuffle, but also reduces button pushes by combining multiple actions into one button press. The Companion may offer more functionality than some people need, which makes it a bit more expensive than a basic universal remote. Logitech maintains an astoundingly large remote control code database that covers more than 270,000 home theater devices. Like our top pick, the Logitech Harmony Elite is a two-piece system that uses the Harmony Hub, so you get all the same advantages. You also can’t use the Harmony 665 with components that are tucked away in a cabinet, unless you add your own IR extenders or an RF converter. Let us help you. The iQ3 also makes … The Sevenhugs Smart Remote U was very close to becoming a pick. © 2021 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company, For theater enthusiasts and serious smart-home tinkerers. If all of your devices can be controlled by standard infrared technology (as opposed to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) and you don’t need smart-home control, the Logitech Harmony 665 is a great choice. The best universal remote control By Joel Santo Domingo This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. The more a remote costs, the more flexibility it should have to control different kinds of devices. DALI Katch One soundbar review: Great sound—under the right circumstances This soundbar must be placed up against a wall to sound its best, and it requires more space beneath a TV than most. You can also incorporate voice control when you integrate it with an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant speaker. The remote is a sleek, stripped-down design with important buttons like home, microphone, volume, back, menu, and more (but no backlighting). First, the remote has no physical buttons, and both the touchscreen and the virtual buttons on it are very small. If you just want a simple, great-sounding pair of wired earbuds, we recommend the Final E4000. If you’re a Catalina user with a Hub remote like the Companion or Elite, you now have to use the Harmony app. If you answer yes, the help screen goes away. Finally, you have to use the supplied USB cable to connect the remote to your computer, so take care not to lose it. The 1More Piston Fit BT wireless earbuds are comfortable and solidly built, and they sound far better than they should for the money. The control box supports 4K/HDR10 pass-through, and it adds an on-screen user interface to your system through which you can easily switch sources, voice-search content across platforms, unite your streaming apps from different devices, and set up favorites. While the occasional new competitor still pops up (and you can read about them in the Competition section), Harmony is the king of the mountain—so selecting the best universal remote is largely a matter of selecting the right Harmony device for your needs. It also has an app that lets you troubleshoot issues from anywhere with an Internet connection. The Elite is a pleasure to use, and it has the responsiveness and polish of a professionally installed control system, but it also costs a lot more than the Companion. When you press a button on the Companion remote, it sends a radio signal to the Hub, telling it which button you’ve pushed. We found Sevenhugs’s app-based setup process to be the most intuitive platform we’ve tried; it was very easy to add devices, set up Scenes, create fully customized pages for the remote's touchscreen, and fix problems on the fly. A newsletter a day keeps the FOMO at bay. The Hub also comes with a wired IR blaster that you can point to reach components in another direction, and it has a 3.5 mm jack for adding a second blaster if necessary. The Harmony Companion is our pick for the best universal remote because it combines a good physical design with the flexibility to control a variety of devices. A Harmony remote was my first thought, but what I really wanted was a simple approach, something as close to the 12-button Roku remote as I could get. It’s the best option for most people looking to simplify the operation of their home theater or media system. The remote should be generally easy to program. It also works with Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free voice control. Plus, adding an interface on top of your sources can slow down some processes (like voice search). The screen then switches to pages customized for that activity, and the control options can go satisfyingly deep. But a growing number of devices, especially game consoles (like the Sony PlayStation 4) and streaming media products (like some Nvidia Shield TV and Amazon Fire TV products), are controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, so you’ll need a universal remote that supports those technologies. Although $100 may seem like a lot of money to spend on a universal remote (especially since you can get a good streaming media player for about half that price), keep this in mind: Because your remote control is the primary device you interact with when using your home theater system, getting a single good universal remote that does the job of eight mediocre remotes is a very satisfying upgrade to that system. The best USB Wi-Fi adapters 04.12.20 View. The best USB Wi-Fi adapters. Plus, it is no longer listed on Logitech’s Harmony page, so it may already be nearing its end. There’s always going to be a bit of a learning curve with any desktop or app-based software, but if you need a certificate in C++ to program your remote, that’s too difficult. A cheaper option would be this RCA streaming remote, which can handle the TV and the Roku but not the cable box. This is hardly intuitive. As you create your Activities, MyHarmony asks a series of questions, such as: “What input should your AV receiver be set to when you watch a movie?” and “Which device controls the volume?” The Harmony software performs all the complex macro calculations in the background, so you don’t have to. We prefer brands that offer setup software, via either computer or app, and keep a database of manufacturer codes. 2. If you’re not able to control your television the old-fashioned way, it’s entirely possible to use voice controls instead. These remotes aren’t designed to provide a really intuitive, streamlined, activity-based experience—they’re just designed to hold a lot of buttons to control your different devices (usually about four total). That’s because using your mobile device’s touchscreen as a remote requires you to look away from the TV screen and down at your device as you search for the right part of the screen to touch, making channel surfing and volume tweaking cumbersome. This is the remote to get if you have a lot of gear—it can control up to 15 devices (up from the Companion’s eight-device limit), so it potentially replaces up to 15 other remotes. The Logitech Harmony 350 is our budget pick for the best universal remote. Your Wi-Fi gear can be anywhere within reach of your wireless network, of course. You have to connect the remote directly to your computer via the supplied USB cable and use the MyHarmony desktop software to add devices, set up activities, and customize the LCD screen. The Elite model controls up to 15 devices and adds a customizable touchscreen for even more flexibility. Harmony was eventually bought by Logitech and they still make (a relatively large share of) some of the best universal remotes around. The Hub connects with all those devices via your home Wi-Fi network. The Logitech Harmony Companion can control up to eight AV components and features activity buttons to simplify control of your whole home theater. CNET’s David Katzmaier puts it this way: “In 15-odd years of reviewing TV and home theater equipment, the one thing I always tell people to buy is a ‘good universal remote.’”. Logitech, which has a number of models, is by far the dominant player, with the Logitech Harmony Elite as the best universal remote overall. The two-piece Logitech Harmony Companion system, which consists of a hub and a handheld remote, can control up to eight AV components, and it works with IR, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth devices, which gives it more flexibility than is available with most budget remotes. 9 months ago. You can control your AV system with your voice by pressing the remote’s Alexa button and saying commands like “Turn on Fire TV,” “Open Netflix app,” or “Watch ESPN.” While we found this remote easy to set up and reliable in executing commands, its limited button options make performing more advanced tasks challenging, and this system is totally locked into the Alexa ecosystem. You can still find some older DIY URC remotes online but at elevated prices. 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. The Harmony 665 does have some drawbacks. If you want the best AV presentation of your favorite films, we recommend 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and the Panasonic DP-UB420 is the best player we’ve tested. During that time, she has reviewed numerous audio and video products, including virtually every major DIY universal-remote platform. Once you answer all the necessary questions, you’re done. If something doesn’t work the way you need it to, you can adjust the settings on-the-fly through the app. You can also control your Harmony Companion with your voice by integrating it with Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. The Harmony 665 is a one-piece system that does not include the Hub, so you can’t use the Harmony setup app on your mobile device to program it. Using the app to set up the Harmony Companion is simple enough, as long as everything works the way it’s supposed to. Why you should buy this: If it can be controlled by a remote, this will let you control it. While no single DIY universal remote is perfect for everyone, the Companion combines a good physical design with the flexibility to control a variety of devices. And if the cable box’s existing remote has all the requisite navigational arrow buttons, you can program it to control the Roku TV, leaving you with just one remote! When it comes time to use the remote, just press the desired Activity button, and the Harmony turns everything on and switches each device to the correct settings. One of the highlights of the whole Harmony line is that these remotes are pretty simple to program, at least for universal remotes. If you answer no, the Harmony 665 asks further questions, such as “Is the AV Receiver off?” If your answer is yes, the remote sends out a command to turn the receiver back on and then once again asks, “Did that fix the problem?” Yes turns off help; no initiates another question, and so on. While there is a big price gap between the most sophisticated remotes and the simplest ones, options like the … As a matter of fact, the Companion remote doesn’t even need to be in the same room as the Hub, so long as you place the Hub where the IR signals it emits can reach your AV components. If you're tired of managing a separate remote control for each of the components of your home entertainment system, it might be time to invest in a universal remote control.With a universal TV remote that’s compatible with your smart TV and other electronics, you can simplify your system, declutter and end the days of searching for lost remotes between your home theater seating cushions. A Harmony remote, however, is still worth considering, because it’s the only option that actually consolidates all the remotes into one. The remote itself has only a few buttons designated for smart lights and plugs, but you can manage more devices through the Harmony app. If you currently have one of those components, you won’t be able to use the Harmony 665 to control it—in other words, you’re stuck using two or more remote controls. If you need a remote for your Bluetooth and smart devices, the Harmony Companion is a nice option. And the favorites buttons are great for someone who watches the same channels most of the time. You may be better off turning to a local specialty AV retailer who can create a more personalized whole-house control system from a company like Crestron or Control4, which is a much more expensive solution. Can I use my smartphone as a remote control? The TCL Roku offers a decent picture right out of the box, integrated Roku functions, and one more HDMI port than other small TVs. By Adrienne Maxwell This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. Instead of pressing hard buttons for Movie, TV, or Music, for instance, you scroll up and down on the screen for your activity and tap that. Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser said, "It misses out on the 650's great Help feature and display, but … She has been a writer, editor, and reviewer in the consumer electronics industry for 20 years, and previously served as the executive editor of Home Theater Magazine and the managing editor of HomeTheaterReview.com. The Logitech Harmony Companion is the best universal remote control you can buy. This $10 Insignia cable from Best Buy worked with the MacBook Pro laptop we used. Like RCA, One for All has several universal remotes in its lineup (for sale in the United States, at least), including the Simple 4; these have similarly limited programmability and support only three or four devices. If your control needs are fairly straightforward—that is, all your AV gear can be controlled via standard infrared signals and you don’t need to integrate smart-home products—the Logitech Harmony 665 is a more affordable alternative to the Harmony Companion. How to Set Up a Remote Learning Space for Your Kids, The Best Mosquito Control Gear for Your Patio or Yard, Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent Gen 2.0. 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). Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser write, "The Harmony 650 remains the best universal remote … Unfortunately, the Roku TV remote cannot control many cable boxes—and even if it could, it still lacks a number pad and the buttons necessary to access the program guide. *At the time of publishing, the price was $170. The Caavo Control Center + Universal Remote combines a handheld remote and an HDMI switch/control box (with four HDMI inputs and one output). The final step is to load your newly configured remote settings into the Hub and make sure the Hub is placed wherever you’d like it to reside. Unless you have devices scattered all around the room, we don’t think this extra perk will be that useful. The Logitech Harmony 650 is our pick for the best universal remote. For instance, instead of having to push separate buttons to turn on your TV, switch HDMI inputs, power on your AV receiver, change inputs there, turn on your Blu-ray player, and—finally—get your movie started, a good universal remote can reduce all of that to one command (Play Movie) that you can access at the touch of a single button. Depending on the types of components you have—perhaps a TV, a Blu-ray player, a receiver, and a cable box—Harmony suggests a number of possible Activities, such as “Watch TV” or “Listen to Music” (you can also create your own custom Activities). You can customize all the activity names or create your own. Most AV devices still rely on IR (infrared) control, where you must point the remote’s IR transmitter directly at the device’s IR receiver. Easy to program and use, the Harmony 665 can control up to 10 AV components, and it has an LCD screen and a convenient help function—but it can control only IR devices and no … The Companion remote has a logical button layout and includes important functions such as Menu, Exit, and Guide, and color buttons. It’s easier to program than any non-Harmony remote. The other remotes i use in the living room and the man cave. However, some popular AV devices don’t use IR remotes, such as Sony’s PlayStation 4, Sonos’s wireless speakers, Philips Hue lighting, and certain Amazon Fire TV devices. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use universal remote to control up to eight devices, we recommend the Logitech Harmony 650. This built-in help function, along with the ability to easily set up Activities, makes the Harmony 665 simple enough for nearly anyone to use. Rather than develop its own proprietary home-automation system, Logitech made the Harmony Companion compatible with several existing platforms and devices. This model also lacks the convenient Help button available on the Harmony 665. We tested Sevenhugs’s Smart Remote U and Smart Remote X and added our thoughts to the Competition section. The 32-inch Roku TV from TCL usually costs less than $200 (bigger versions cost more) and is our current pick for the best small TV. The Elite also comes with a rechargeable battery and base station, so you do not need to replace batteries as you do with the lower-priced Harmony remotes. Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser said, "It misses out on the 650's great Help feature and display, but … Setup is easy, and the system reliably controlled our gear without any major problems. The more commands that are included in the activity, the more chances there are for this to happen. If your home entertainment system is more complex than the typical media player/TV/soundbar combo and you need a universal remote … The best universal remote control is the one that gives you more options to integrate the various devices for an easy operation. There are tons of universal remotes to choose from, so making the selection for the best may be hard. A game console or two might also be included. The Sideclick is technically a separate remote, but it has a basic layout and attaches to an existing Roku remote, so it’s functionally the same as having a single remote. That’s why we're here to help. If your home entertainment system is more complex than the typical media player/TV/soundbar combo and you need a universal remote to control all your gear—including a few smart-home devices—we recommend the Logitech Harmony Companion. The buttons are distinct in shape and spaced far enough apart that it soon becomes second nature to operate the remote without needing to take your eyes off the TV, and the customizable LCD screen lets you add control options that don’t have a corresponding button, such as your TV’s picture-in-picture mode or your receiver’s surround-sound mode. The best universal remote for ultimate home theater control: Logitech Harmony Elite. Finally, setting it up will be but a breeze as the universal wireless programming will allow you to avoid cutting into the garage wiring and you won't have to install an unsightly receiver. This model integrates the Roku platform into the TV itself and comes with a Roku remote that controls both the Roku interface and the TV (it lacks a dedicated input-switching button, but that functionality is built into the Home screen). It’s capable of controlling up to 10 AV devices, it features an easy-to-read, backlit color display, and the built-in Remote Assistant function is great for troubleshooting. Like all the other Hub-based Harmony remotes, the Elite allows you to use the Harmony app in addition to the actual remote. Then, if she has a problem, she can call you, and you can fix it from wherever you are. And it controlled all of our devices correctly. How to buy a laptop for your kid (or revive an old one) 04.10.20 View. The remote is fully backlit and more responsive, with a nicer design that makes it feel more like the remote for a professionally installed control system—but all of that comes with a big jump in price. Learn more. However, because the Harmony 665 only works with IR-based equipment, it doesn’t support smart-home devices and some streaming media players and game consoles, and it needs line of sight with your gear. Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, four-device-capable “universal” replacement remote. It's ridiculously well designed, as ergonomic as anything you'll ever hold in your hand, and you'll be able to get rid of almost all your remotes. The remote itself is very comfortable to hold, with the most frequently used buttons—volume up/down, channel up/down, play/pause, and a cursor control pad for navigating on-screen menus and channel guides—all located within easy reach of your thumb. Also, the Smart Remote U is more expensive than the Harmony Companion, currently doesn’t include support for Alexa and Google Home, and natively supports fewer smart-home devices (you can add control via Webhooks, but that’s more complicated). The remote lacks backlighting, and Logitech’s app-based setup can sometimes be frustrating, but this system still delivers the best combination of features, flexibility, and control that we’ve found for the price. Wirecutter is reader-supported. Sound quality is important when picking an AV receiver, but it’s also important to find one with the features you need, so we have multiple recommendations. Adrienne Maxwell is the lead editor of Wirecutter’s AV team and has worked as a writer and editor in the consumer electronics industry for 20 years. Here are the most loved connected-home devices from the Wirecutter staff. When we took the Energizer Recharge Universal AAs out for a spin, they kept their remote-control car racing for 16 hours, and the Panasonic-powered car lasted 15.5 hours. Easy to program and use, the Harmony 665 can control up to 10 AV components, and it has an LCD screen and a convenient help function—but it can control only IR devices and no smart-home devices. For most people, that limitation isn’t an issue because it covers the vast majority of past, current, and (most likely) future AV components. This makes it easier to navigate your home media. The bigger RCA remotes even have programmable macros that let you power up several devices with one button press, but they aren’t capable of the kind of switching or complex control the Harmony remotes can accomplish. Currently, you can choose between using the MyHarmony desktop software or the Harmony app to set up the Companion, though support for the desktop software may be waning. The best universal remote control. If the remote fails to perform a task you expect it to (such as turning up the TV’s volume), you can use the remote’s Help button to resolve the problem quickly. It can control up … This slim universal remote clips onto the side of a Roku remote and can control TVs and most cable boxes. The remote comes equipped with 3 buttons, so you will be able to control up to 3 brands of garage door openers. We had to look away from the TV often to make sure we carefully pressed the right button, and still we often launched the wrong command. An old one ) 04.10.20 View a couple of issues hold this one back Radius. Slipping out of sync until someone can troubleshoot it Logitech ’ s editors answer best universal remote wirecutter questions all the names. You control it the handheld remote are not backlit older DIY URC remotes online but at elevated prices at... With Wirecutter, Inc., a customizable touchscreen for even more flexibility it should to. 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The universal remote control you can also incorporate voice control when you integrate it with an Amazon Echo speaker Alexa! Use in the activity, and they still make ( a relatively large share of ) some of the system! Clauser write, `` the Harmony 665 model controls up to eight,... Remote is a singular device that uses the same frequencies as your other devices just the TV and the cave! Far better than they should for the best universal remote turn a complex theater.

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