The 8 Best Universal Remotes of 2020

See why this is the only remote control you'll ever need to fight over

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Logitech Harmony Elite at Amazon

"Enabling full voice control for up to 15 home entertainment and connected home devices."

Best Smartphone Control: Logitech Harmony Smart Control at Amazon

"Works with over 270,000 devices from 6,000 brands"

Best Streaming: Inteset INT-422 4-in-1 at Amazon

"Pre-programmed right out of the box for Apple TV, Xbox One, Media Center and Roku."

Best Touchscreen: Logitech Harmony Ultimate at Amazon

"Touch a command prompt on the 2.4-inch screen and it does the rest."

Best Smart Home: Logitech Harmony Companion at Amazon

"Top pick for buyers looking to add monitoring of smart devices."

Best Budget: GE 33709 at Amazon

"With an expansive code library that works with all major television manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony and Sharp"

Best Compatibility: Logitech Harmony 350 at Amazon

"An ideal universal remote with broad compatibility, including support for over 225,000 devices."

Best Value: Logitech Harmony 700 at Amazon

"Works with up to six different devices simultaneously"

With more and more people getting different smart home devices, controlling every connected product you have in your home can be complicated. That's where universal remotes come in. Made by companies like Logitech, GE, and Inteset, they provide you the ability to control tens of thousands of devices right out of the box from TVs and air conditions to thermostats and home security systems. We've reviewed and researched several remotes, evaluating them on how compatible they are with other brands, how well they handle automation, and their smart home support.

Best Overall: Logitech Harmony Elite

Logitech Harmony Elite

 Courtesy of Amazon

4.3
What We Like
  • Supports up to 15 devices

  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant

  • No line of sight necessary

  • Crisp color touchscreen

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Lengthy setup

  • Steep learning curve

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. 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). Our reviewer was able to use it with Amazon’s Alexa devices, and there’s full voice control for up to 15 home entertainment and connected home devices. The full-color touchscreen allows easy swipe and tap for control of volume, movies, 50 favorite channels and even smart home devices such as LED lighting for automatic dimming when a movie starts.

Options such as “one touch activity” allows for automatic power on and switching to the right devices with the right settings. Additionally, features such as closed cabinet control let the Harmony Hub assist in controlling devices that are stored behind closed doors in cabinets. The Harmony smartphone app (Android and iOS) doubles as a separate universal remote, which is convenient in case you are charging the Harmony Elite in its charging station. While the pricing might turn some potential buyers away, if you want the most feature-rich universal remote on the market, the Harmony Elite is the one to own.

"Once we cleared the initial connectivity and setup hurdles, we experienced generally fast and responsive performance from the Harmony Elite." Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Smartphone Control: Logitech Harmony Smart Control

3.8
What We Like
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa

  • Slim and lightweight

  • Smart home support integrated

  • Handles up to 8 devices

What We Don't Like
  • Lengthy initial setup

  • Inconsistent performance

  • No touchscreen

Featuring control of up to eight devices, the Logitech Harmony smart control works with over 270,000 devices from 6,000 brands, including cable TV boxes, Apple TV and Roku. The connectivity doesn’t stop there since the Harmony Smart offers a smartphone app for both Android and iOS that offers up to 50 favorite channel icons, volume control and media playback.

Gone are the days of irritating on-TV keyboards. Instead, voice control is handled directly from your smartphone or tablet and speech recognition will help find your content faster. Beyond voice control, the Harmony excels at working with devices that are hidden in closed cabinets through its IR (infrared) and Bluetooth connectivity. Our tester did point out however, that while overall performance and software was good, it wasn't always consistent.

"If you’re okay with not having a touchscreen and spending some dedicated time to programming this device, it could be exactly what you’ve been looking for."Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Streaming: Inteset INT-422 4-in-1

3.7
What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Roku and streaming support built-in

  • Simple initial device setup

What We Don't Like
  • Takes time to program advanced commands

  • Inconsistent learning

  • Incompatible with Amazon Fire TV

Pre-programmed right out of the box for Apple TV, Xbox One, Media Center and Roku, the Inteset INT-422 four-in-one universal remote is well worth a look. While streaming is the Inteset’s claim to fame, added features such as volume and channel lock allow an added layer of security from children, roommates or spouses who might want to change things around.

When it comes to connecting directly to the television itself, the Inteset features a worldwide database of device codes for connecting to all the top television manufacturers by completely replacing their default remote controls. Our reviewer especially liked how easy it was to program different commands with one button. Inteset takes its unique feature set up another level with macro programming that allows you to program up to 32 commands to a single button, so you can turn on/off all devices, switch inputs or change to a favorite channel.

"The Inteset 422-3 is a bargain at $27, especially compared with more expensive smart remotes on the market." Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Touchscreen: Logitech Harmony Ultimate

3.3
What We Like
  • Full-color touchscreen

  • Ability to control 15 total gadgets

  • Program one-touch activities

What We Don't Like
  • Setup requires PC

  • Changes are time-intensive

  • Expensive

  • Needs to be charged

The Logitech Harmony Ultimate One remote control is a standout universal remote that can control up to 15 infrared devices. Compatible with more than 225,000 devices and 5,000 brands, the real highlight is the touchscreen that simplifies control over multiple devices. By touching a command prompt (for example, press "watch TV") on the 2.4-inch screen and the Harmony Ultimate does the rest by turning on the television. T

he upgradeable Harmony Hub, sold separately, can add both infrared and Bluetooth capabilities for advanced options such as controlling smart home devices. The downloadable smartphone app fully unlocks the Hub’s feature set and allows for control over the 50 favorite channels directly from the remote and its touchscreen. Our tester found the app and software dependable, but found that it was slow to load on MacOS.

"You can drag and drop devices on the touchscreen based on your preferences, and it gives you quick access to activities with a tap of the screen." Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Smart Home: Logitech Harmony Companion

3.7
What We Like
  • Control up to 8 devices

  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant

  • Controllable via app or remote

What We Don't Like
  • Lengthy setup process

  • App can be buggy

  • No screen on remote

  • No backlighting

Controlling a total of eight devices, the Logitech Harmony Companion universal remote is a top pick for buyers looking to add monitoring of smart devices, too. Our reviewer didn't like its lacks a touchscreen or backlit buttons, however, the Harmony Companion does include Amazon Alexa certification. Beyond Alexa, the Harmony Companion works fantastically with other smart home devices such as Philip’s Hue lighting or Nest’s learning thermostat. The included Harmony Hub allows for even more device control, including those gadgets hidden between cabinet doors or walls (read: video game consoles). After a simple setup on the computer, the Harmony Companion is ready to work with more than 270,000 devices, including Apple TV, Roku and Sonos audio players. 

"While it lacks a touchscreen or flashy design elements, the Harmony Companion is still pretty sleek." Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best Budget: GE 33709

What We Like
  • Many colors

  • Budget-friendly

  • Large code library

What We Don't Like
  • Can't control more than 4 devices

Available in a multitude of colors, the GE 33709 four-device universal remote is so budget-friendly you might just want to purchase it as an extra remote around the house. It can control up to four different audio and video components, including TVs, Blu-ray and DVD players, as well as streaming media players and soundbars. The expansive code library works with all major television manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony and Sharp. Powered by two AAA batteries, the GE can work for months on end before requiring battery replacement. Furthermore, the inclusion of features such as master volume control allows the GE to control the volume on every device that’s connected to the remote. One last highlight are the multicolored A, B, C and D buttons that let you easily access hardware favorites.  

Best Compatibility: Logitech Harmony 350

What We Like
  • Support for 225,000 devices and 5,000 brands

  • Easy connection

  • Simple one-touch buttons

What We Don't Like
  • Mostly basic in terms of features

The all-in-one Logitech Harmony 350 is an ideal universal remote with broad compatibility, including support for over 225,000 devices and 5,000 brands (and new devices are added regularly). Connecting the remote is a snap. Easily sync it directly to your computer and download the commands for all available devices and you’re ready to go. The Harmony 350 can replace up to eight other remotes with TV, cable and satellite, DVR, as well as a Blu-ray player all in one handheld device. Personalizing the Harmony 350 is just as easy as the original setup, thanks to one-touch buttons that allow you to jump to one of five favorite channels. The included “watch TV” button also allows for a one-touch automatic start of both your TV and cable/satellite box.

Best Value: Logitech Harmony 700

What We Like
  • Comfortable, ergonomic design

  • Rapid programming

  • Works with many devices

What We Don't Like
  • Won't connect to smart home appliances

With a comfortable ergonomic design, the Logitech Harmony 700 reduces the need for multiple remote controls while working with six different devices simultaneously. The 23 programmable channel icons for selecting your favorite stations makes it simple to rapidly find your favorite channels. Past programming, the backlit controls allow for easy nighttime remote navigation that’s powered by AA batteries for months of activity before requiring replacement. All totaled, the Harmony 700 works with more than 225,000 devices from 5,000 plus brands (and more are always being added). Updating with new brands and devices is easily done through a connection to both PC and Mac computers and, while it won’t connect to smart home appliances, the Harmony 700 is an easy to use remote that won’t break the bank.

Final Verdict

If you're someone with tons of smart home devices, TVs, air conditioners, and other appliances at home, the Logitech Harmony Elite will best suit your lifestyle. It offers compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands, can work with up to 15 connected devices, and works with devices outside of line of sight. If you want the same features for a lower price and with support for a smartphone app, the Logitech Harmony is a good choice. It can support up to 8 devices, is slim and lightweight, and can work with the Harmony app and Hub.

About Our Trusted Experts

Yoona Wagener has written for Lifewire since 2019 and has a background in tech. She's reviewed many of the devices on this list and she liked the Logitech Harmony Elite for its broad compatibility and the ability to work outside of line of sight.

David Beren has more than ten years of experience in the tech industry. He's previously been published on TmoNews.com and has written extensively about the telecom industry.

What to Look for When Buying a Universal Remote

Compatibility - Before purchasing any piece of technology, it’s essential to make sure that it’ll work with the gadgets you already have at home. Some remotes offer built-in controls for services such as Netflix, others only have a general control layout, and some won’t work at all. Be sure to check your remote’s compatibility before making a purchase.

Automation - The majority of universal remotes you find will merely allow you to switch between controlling different devices, but some solutions such as Logitech’s Harmony lineup offer automation. Just hit a single button to turn on your TV and receiver, switch to the correct input, and even dim the lights.

Smart home support - Going beyond standard automation, some universal remotes are beginning to support virtual assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. If you wish to tune to your favorite game on ESPN or launch a game on your PlayStation with the command of your voice, be sure to look for a remote that supports smart home devices.