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With a new fall TV season upon us, and COVID still keeping many events off-limits, these days we have more of an excuse than ever to have a serious home theater setup. That typically entails a TV, sound bar, surround speakers and a Blu-ray player, at the very least, not to mention gaming consoles, a Roku and AV receivers. On the bright side, every device brings you one step closer to getting a cinematic experience at home. On the other hand, each gadget means an additional remote, so your coffee table could be overflowing with them. And fumbling around in the dark to find the right one when you have to hit pause or turn up the volume can seriously erase that movie magic.
That’s where the best universal remotes come in. Just a single clicker can control everything at once, with just a few presses of buttons. A universal remote looks and works just like a regular remote, but it can be programmed to control every different feature and function for each piece of your home theater system and switch between all of them. Syncing a remote to each device is typically quick and easy. The best universal remotes have an ergonomic design, are intuitive to use and work with a range of mobile devices and smartphones — equally well on both Androids and iPhones. Some universal remotes can even work with voice systems and smart devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. There are plenty of options out there, so we narrowed it down to the best universal TV remotes that will streamline the experience while being a cinch to operate. If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.
1. GE Backlit Universal Remote Control
You won’t have to feel around in the dark for this one — the universal remote is fully backlit with soft-blue LEDs so you always know exactly where it is and can use it without turning on the lights. Compatible with all major brands, it comes pre-programmed for Roku and Samsung TVs, though it doesn’t work with a Roku streaming stick, Fire TV stick or other RF streaming devices. It works with up to four different audio and video components, including TVs, Blu-ray/DVD players, cable/satellite receivers, soundbars and streaming media players. Boasting one of the best remote code libraries, it works with all of the latest gadgets. $10.34, amazon.com
2. Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub and App
A worthy splurge, this best universal TV remote is the only clicker you’ll ever need. Boasting the title of the most powerful remote out there, it even has voice control to team up with Alexa. It works with up to 15 home entertainment devices at once. Intuitive and easy to use, it has a full-color touchscreen that allows you to manage channels, movies, volume, 50 favorite channels and smart-home devices with ease. Its one-touch feature lets you to select a specific activity, such as “Watch a Movie,” to automatically turn on and switch devices. The Harmony app works with iOS or Android smartphones or tablets to transform them into remote controls as well. It comes with a charging station to ensure your remote is always ready to go. $270.49, amazon.com
3. Inteset 4-in-1 Universal Backlit IR Learning Remote
This universal remote comes with some of the work done for you — it is pre-programmed with Apple TV, XBox One, Media Center/Kodi and Roku device codes (except for Roku Stick). A plethora of handy functions make this one of the best universal TV remotes, including its volume lock that works in all modes, ID lock for protection and channel lock. Additionally, all of the buttons have full LED backlighting and there’s macro-programming for up to 15 commands. The far-reaching device code database helps you program practically any device out there. $25.95, amazon.com
4. Philips Universal Remote Control
With this convenient universal remote in your hand, you can work up to eight different audio and video devices. It supports plenty of equipment out there, with an impressive remote code library to prove it. However, it’s not compatible with Roku streaming sticks, Fire TV sticks or other RF streaming devices. Quick and painless to set up, it already comes preprogrammed for Roku and Samsung TVs. The online setup video delivers step-by-step instructions to take all of the guesswork out, plus the auto scan technology and master volume control make it a cinch to operate. $12.99, amazon.com
5. RCA Three-Device Palm-Sized Universal Remote
Petite in size but big on organization, this little guy can control up to three devices. Simplify your life with the automatic, manual and direct code search options. Its small stature makes it comfy to hold and the keys — for TV, DVD, satellite receiver, cable box or digital TV converter — are easy to use. It requires two AAA batteries, which are sold separately. $8.52, amazon.com
6. SofaBaton Universal Remote Control with Mobile Phone APP
In addition to the universal remote, you also get a mobile app that turns any smartphone into a remote control as well. For the nights the remote vanishes into the couch cushions, you’ll be even more grateful for the clever perk. It only requires a single click to add all of your devices to the universal remote using the code library database, which supports both Bluetooth and infrared devices. It can switch between up to a whopping 15 devices, making this one of the best universal remotes. The remote comes pre-programmed for Apple TV, Xbox One, Roku (excluding Roku Stick) and is compatible with over 500,000 entertainment and smart home devices. You can even program up to a string of 10 commands with the push of a single button. Its advanced OLED screen is as user-friendly as it gets. $49.99, amazon.com
7. Logitech Harmony 650 Infrared All in One Remote Control
Another winner from Logitech, this all-in-one can replace up to five other remotes, saving you a lot of space and trouble. Ideal for people who are on the technologically challenged side, it’s easy to set up online via your computer and there’s even live customer support available if you hit any snafus. Since it supports more than 5,000 brands, you won’t have an issue linking your current devices to it. The bright color screen is a dream to navigate and makes for a seamless entertainment experience, especially with the one-click buttons like “Watch a DVD” that instantly switch everything over to the device you need with a single click. $215, amazon.com
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