(Pocket-lint) - Picking up one of the best universal remotes can help transform how you control what's showing on your TV, making it easier to flick between all the devices in your setup.
All-in-one remotes allow you to get rid of singular remotes for the soundbar, cable box, streaming devices, and the TV itself, configuring themselves to work with everything. With more and more devices in and around the TV than ever before, too, investing in the right one can offer a real quality of life improvement.
However, despite the concept of universal remotes sounding straightforward, they're not necessarily all created equally - some will give you the ability to tap into multiple devices, while others actually use the 'universal' tag to indicate that they work across any device from one brand.
We've sought out the top options for this list as well as provided some handy tips when it comes to picking up a universal remote.
What is the best universal remote control? Currently, our top pick is the Logitech Harmony Elite. However, we also suggest checking out the GE Universal Remote Control, One For All Contour URC1210, RCA RCR3273E and the DIRECTV RC66RX 2 Pack.
Our Top Pick: Best Universal Remote Control
Logitech Harmony Elite
- Controls a huge range of devices
- Alexa built-in
- Smart home integration
Logitech has plenty of elite remotes for the TV power user, but the Harmony Elite is a step above the rest of the line - and any other universal remotes on this list.
While it's able to easily replace your Sky, Apple TV or Fire TV remote, it's also able to act as essentially the foremost controller for your entire smart home.
It works with over 270,000 devices and supports scheduling for pretty much everything, and, as far as TV control goes, you can simply press the 'Watch TV' button and configure it so your screen, set-top box, soundbar and more all come on at the same time.
This is a next-level universal remote, with the only downside being the price tag to match.
Other universal remote controls we recommend
While we think that the Logitech Harmony Elite is one of the best remotes money can buy, it's not for everyone. Particularly at such a high price point. With that in mind, here are four other excellent remotes worth checking out.
GE Universal Remote Control
- Low price
- Controls up to four devices
- Range of colour options
- No support for streaming sticks
GE's Universal Remote gives you the option to control up to four separate devices at any given time, meaning your TV, soundbar, cable receiver and Apple TV box will only need one remote.
The device comes pre-programmed for Samsung TVs, though it's able to be configured to pretty much anything from the major brands. However, this compatibility, unfortunately, doesn't stretch to include Amazon's or Roku's streaming sticks.
For those who just want to condense their remote selection, though, this is one of the top picks - easy to set up and use with almost everything in your lineup.
One For All Contour URC1210
- Easy setup
- Works across all major TV brands
- Very cheap
- Only for TVs
One For All offers you pretty much exactly what it says on the tin - a replacement device that can work with pretty much every TV brand you can think of.
Ideal for switching out with an old or broken device, setup is very straightforward - not always a given for remotes - and the Contour's functions are also customizable.
This allows you to replicate your old remote with ease and avoid hours of learning a new configuration and pressing the wrong buttons.
Even better, the price is very reasonable, considering the wide compatibility.
- Works with up to three devices
- DVR controls
- Auto code search
- Not the most stylish remote
It may be basic looking, but RCA's universal remote is one of the cheapest and best options you'll find.
Users can hook it up with up to three devices, with it offering the ability to work with TVs, satellite and cable boxes, and even DVD or VCR players.
It's also extremely simple to get started with - setting it up with a new device just involves searching automatically, by brand or by manual code for your device and confirming.
For those who want DVR controls, it also features this at the top of the remote.
DIRECTV RC66RX 2 Pack
- You get a spare
- DirecTV compatible
- Easy to program
For DirecTV users who need a replacement and additional remote to add to their setup, the RC66RX 2 Pack has you covered.
It works with most of the company's receivers when in IR mode, with the built-in RF feature also allowing it to control the R16, R22, H21, H22, H23, H24, HR21, HR22, HR23, HR24, HR34, and C31 without pointing at the receiver.
Setup can be a bit hit-and-miss, but once you get this beauty working, it represents one of the best deals you can pick up.
Other remotes we've considered
When initially deciding what we believe to be the best printers currently available, we spent hours testing and researching. No matter the subject area, we always consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices - and apply the same process before a new device enters our top five selections. We don't just take into account our own testing, either, but also consumer reviews, brand quality and value.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
How to choose a universal remote control
When presented with such an array of appealing universal remotes, it can be hard to pinpoint the best one for your needs. If you're struggling to decide, fear not, here are a couple of things that we recommend thinking about when making your next universal remote purchase.
What devices do you need to control?
Most important of all is ensuring compatibility with your TV kit, for obvious reasons. But it's also worth considering whether you want to downsize your stack of remotes.
Some of the options on our list can control a handful of devices like your soundbar, set-top box and TV all in one handy remote. The more advanced options from brands like Logitech can control almost any smart device in your home including multi-room speakers and even lights.
Do you plan to add more devices in the future?
It's worth thinking about how your TV setup is likely to evolve in the near future too. If you're committed to the single-remote lifestyle, then it's all good buying a remote that can control up to three separate devices - but what happens when you buy a fourth?
Considering your future AV purchases should help when it comes to selecting a future-proof universal remote that will last for years to come.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been assessed thoroughly to ensure it will perform exactly as a recommended pick should.
We've thought about everything, factoring in how each model will perform when being used to control a variety of different TVs, AV and smart home devices. This meant diving into the key specs and features, like wireless connectivity, control sets, companion apps and more. From there, we've then crossed our judgements with each individual price tag to ensure they represent good value for money, too.
As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each remote is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.