A universal remote is great for eliminating clutter and simplifying the quality time you spend relaxing and watching TV. However, finding the perfect product for you can be tricky. Universal TV remotes run the gauntlet from feature-rich and pricey to budget-friendly and intuitive. Some models will even allow you to use your smartphone as a remote for your TV and other devices. We made this guide to showcase the best universal TV remotes on the market today.
Why buy a universal TV remote?
Many of us have been to a home with five or six different remotes cluttering up the coffee table. This isn’t surprising since most living rooms feature an entertainment center that includes a TV, DVD, or Blu-ray player, media streaming devices, a soundbar, and more. Controlling multiple devices using one universal remote is a much simpler option than trying to keep track of multiple remotes at once. Also, if your original TV remote gives up the ghost before your TV, purchasing a replacement can cost much more than it’s worth. In this situation, why not invest in a budget-friendly universal TV remote that works flawlessly with your TV and even controls other devices in your entertainment center?
What should you look for in a universal TV remote?
- Compatibility: Since it’s not guaranteed that a universal remote will work with your electronic devices, it’s a good idea to check in advance. Usually, this is easily accomplished by doing an online search with the company name, product number, and “code list.” This is a great way to see what sort of devices you’ll be able to control with your new universal remote. Also, don’t forget to check how many devices a universal remote can pair with to ensure that it suits your needs!
- Functionality: Some universal remotes include added functionality such as smartphone connectivity, backlit buttons, and even voice control. Some also include a “find it” function, which is a dream come true for those who are prone to misplacing their remotes. Take time to consider what features different products offer and consider purchasing the one that will make your life easier.
- Design: Button size, button layout, and how a universal TV remote feels in your hand can make or break a product’s design. While these may seem like small matters, an intuitive, easy-to-use design is easier to familiarize yourself with so that you can easily learn the layout and “feel” of your new remote. Thus, it’s a good idea to closely consider these factors, especially if you tend to struggle when learning how to use a new electronic device.
How much should you pay for a universal TV remote?
The answer to this question will depend on what you plan to use your remote for. A basic, user-friendly universal TV remote that can power most of the devices in your entertainment system will usually cost $10 to $30. However, if you are looking for a remote that is capable of pairing with a wide variety of devices, including smart home devices such as lights, air conditioning, and other smart appliances, you’ll have to be prepared to invest much more.
Logitech Harmony Elite
This premium universal remote uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which allows it to pair with and control devices throughout your home.
Pros: For users who aren’t scared to dive headfirst into the latest tech, the Logitech Harmony Elite is the most functional universal remote on the market. Featuring Alexa voice controls and the ability to pair with up to 15 devices, this remote can do just about anything. It will also allow you to pair with smart home and Bluetooth devices, unlike your average universal TV remote. Despite its impressive functionality, it’s still fairly easy to program while giving users an incredible array of flexibility regarding how they’d like to control their paired devices.
Cons: This product’s price tag will scare away many shoppers, especially those who don’t own a wide array of smart home devices to control using the remote. Also, while this is by no means a difficult remote to program, it’s far more complex than your average universal TV remote and not suitable for those who struggle with new technology.
Bottom Line: If your home has plenty of compatible devices that this remote can pair with, it really is an excellent value despite its premium price. However, those seeking something basic and simple should steer clear of this next-level remote since there are many budget-friendly options out there that will better suit their needs.
GE 33709 Universal Remote
This universal remote is great for non-techies, thanks to its simple setup process and intuitive button layout. It can control up to four devices.
Pros: The GE Universal Remote Control has the distinction of featuring the most intuitive button layout on this list, making it a great choice for those seeking a user-friendly universal remote that is easy to pick up. While this remote is preprogrammed for use with Samsung TVs and Roku boxes, it also features a massive code library that supports devices from all major brands. Although this budget-friendly remote can only pair with four devices at a time, it’s a great tool to control your TV, soundbar, Blu Ray player, and Roku box with only one device.
Cons: This remote doesn’t work with popular RF (radio frequency) streaming sticks from Roku, Amazon, or others, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that will eliminate the rest of your remotes. Also, you’ll need to manually program the remote by hand instead of using a smartphone, which can be a little time-consuming.
Bottom Line: A universal remote’s button layout is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping, and this one really gets this aspect right. If you’re looking for something simple to use and inexpensive, this is your best bet. It even comes in models that pair with more devices and have backlit buttons, making it a great option that should be suitable for a wide variety of users.
BroadLink RM4 Mini
This device packs a ton of functionality, including voice control, Alexa support, and advanced scheduling.
Pros: This compact device takes a little tinkering to set up, but once you do, you’ll be able to use your smartphone as the universal remote control of your dreams. This device works with over 50,000 infrared-controlled devices such as TVs, DVD players, soundbars, and even air conditioners, making it much more versatile than your standard universal remote control. It’s also great for smart homes, thanks to its Alexa and Google Home compatibility, and it enables you to use voice commands for your television and other devices.
Cons: The device only has an 8-meter range, so don’t expect to be able to control devices all over the house with the tap of a button. Additionally, the RM4 Mini will require time and attention in order to program properly, especially when integrating Alexa commands and creating custom remotes on your phone for various devices.
Bottom Line: This device provides many of the features of a premium universal remote at the price of a budget-friendly model, making it an enticing option for those who don’t mind tinkering around until the setup is perfect. While it would greatly benefit from a better range, it’s still a great product for those who have a wide variety of compatible items in the same room.
GE 33701 Big Button Universal Remote
This universal remote can control two devices and features large buttons and a clean, simplified design.
Pros: This universal TV remote from GE minimizes functionality in order to create an effortless experience for non-techies. Its buttons are very large and laid out in an easy-to-use manner, making it ideal for older folks who struggle to use new, complicated TV remotes. While it does have to be manually programmed, it comes with a guide that makes pairing your devices to the remote a breeze.
Cons: To keep its interface as easy to use as possible, this remote limits the number of paired devices to two. While this may be ideal for those who have a simple TV and cable box setup, you’ll need additional remotes handy in order to operate additional devices such as a DVD player or soundbar.
Bottom Line: Many senior-friendly universal TV remotes take away necessary functionality such as numbered buttons and input buttons, which is thankfully not the case with this product. As such, its design is incredibly easy to use but not so much that it will make controlling the TV even more challenging for the people this type of product is made for. Simply put, if your grandma has been complaining about her TV remote, this is the product to replace it with.
Philips Remote Control
This universal remote features a massive code library to pair to your favorite devices and a simplified setup process for those with Samsung TVs and Roku boxes.
Pros: This budget-friendly Phillips universal remote comes in three styles, so you will have the option to pair the remote with three, four, or six devices, depending on which product you go with. It can also pair with a ton of devices from top brands and features a master volume control so that you can change the volume regardless of what device the remote is set to control. For those aiming for simplicity, function, and a unique pop of color, this is definitely a universal remote to consider.
Cons: Compared to other basic universal TV remotes, this one doesn’t have the most intuitive button layout. However, it’s a layout that you can likely get used to over time. Also, since this remote uses infrared technology, it won’t be compatible with your Roku or Amazon Fire streaming sticks.
Bottom Line: While this universal TV remote isn’t the most user-friendly budget option, it still does enough right to make it a great choice for many. It also sports super unique color options, which will make it much easier to find when you inevitably misplace it. (Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!)
As you can see, universal TV remotes offer a lot of variety in terms of functionality, usability, and price. Whether you’re looking for something simple or an all-in-one solution to control all of your smart home products, we hope this guide makes shopping for the ideal universal remote a whole lot easier on you and your wallet.