Best universal remote 2021: Control your home theater

As technology advances, more and more devices are used in daily life – and more devices mean more remotes. It’s not uncommon to have a remote control for your TV, cable box, streaming device, and sound system. This is only considered a basic setup for most home theaters. With the surge in streaming over the years, as well as quarantines and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, home theater setups are booming.

Most people have spent more money upgrading their home theater and with them many new remotes will come. Instead of trying to juggle all of these different remotes for different devices, why not program a single remote to control them all? This list features the best universal remotes available in 2021.


If you are looking for the best universal remote control, this model is the winner. Although the Logitech Harmony Elite was introduced in 2017, it has been a front runner since its launch.

This remote control is 7.6 x 2.1 x 1.1 inches, weighs 5.8 ounces, and comes with a battery charger. There are three different features that help differentiate this remote from the others on this list, two of which are positive and one is negative. The two positives are that this remote has a touch screen, which makes it much more versatile than standard buttons and can control up to 15 different devices, which should be more than enough for most home theaters.

The only negative – but it’s a relatively big one – is the price. You should expect to spend between $ 300 and $ 500 on this remote. While this price is a bit high, you are unlikely to find a better option anytime soon.


  • Activity-based control
  • Alexa activated
  • Can control 15 different devices
  • Dedicated smart home control buttons
  • Doesn’t need line of sight to work
  • Easy to set up
  • Activates 50 favorite channels
  • App
  • Full backlit touch screen
  • User-friendly and intuitive user interface


  • Expensive
  • Often needs to be docked to charge


This universal remote is basically the much cheaper version of the Logitech Harmony Elite. The Harmony 665 is 10.8 x 1.6 x 2.8 inches and weighs 7.2 ounces, making it a bit larger and heavier than some of the other options, but still quite comfortable to use.

This remote control has a small display – no touchscreen – and backlit buttons that make it easy to navigate and use. One of the biggest drawbacks, however, is that infrared codes are used to control devices, which means you need to keep your devices’ control boxes visible, and this remote control may not work with newer technologies that use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi communication require.

One of the best attributes of this remote control is its price. Retailing between $ 50 and $ 80, this is one of the more affordable pieces on this list. While there may be some limitations compared to other options, this is a very solid option if you’re simply looking for a remote that can easily control multiple devices without spending a few hundred dollars.


  • Activity-based control
  • Backlit keys
  • Can control 10 different devices
  • Comfortable and easy to use
  • Activates 23 favorite channels
  • Low price


  • Non-rechargeable battery
  • No mobile app, requires Mac or PC to program
  • No smart home control
  • Not Alexa-enabled
  • Only works with infrared readers


Probably the best overall value is this universal remote control option. At 7.7 x 1.9 x 1.1 inches and weighing 5.4 ounces, this device is in the middle of the field in terms of size and weight. While it doesn’t have many of the fascinating features that some other options on this list have, it will get the job done, and for a reasonable price. At around $ 50, this remote is the cheapest on this list, but it can still control up to 15 devices and works with both infrared reading and bluetooth. Additionally, the app-based setup will help set it up faster than some of the other options.


  • App-based setup
  • Can control 15 devices
  • Connects via bluetooth
  • Good price


  • Doesn’t connect to WiFi
  • Missing activity buttons
  • The remote control has no backlight
  • Requires batteries


This selection is a little different from some of the others on this list. Instead of just being a programmable remote control, this option comes with an HDMI switch that your devices need to be connected to. While this reduces the maximum total number of devices controlled to just four, it is by far the easiest setup.

The control center is pretty small at 10.4 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds, and the remote control is 6.9 x 1.5 x 0.9 inches and weighs 3.5 ounces the smallest on this list. While this option is cheaper, typically around $ 60, it has a catch: to unlock the advanced features, you have to pay a subscription fee of $ 4 per month, $ 40 annually, or $ 160 for lifetime the remote control. While this will push the price up a bit, some of the features are very interesting. These include voice activation, Alexa and Google Home activation, universal search, and custom content lists. While the remote works fine even without this service, without these features it probably wouldn’t be on this list.


  • Alexa and Google Home activated
  • An accurate voice control system
  • Customizable and visible lists of shows and movies
  • Doesn’t need line of sight to work
  • Extremely easy to set up
  • Good price
  • HDMI switch guarantees a high quality display
  • App
  • Screen display
  • Remote finder
  • Universal search across connected devices and services


  • The best features require a subscription
  • Not an option for favorite channels
  • No backlight on the remote control
  • Controls only four devices


If you are looking for a simple and easy universal remote control then this is it. While it doesn’t have the incredible features of the other options on this list, it doesn’t come at the high price, either. At 7 x 2.24 x 1 inches and weighing 3.2 ounces, this is one of the smallest and lightest remotes on this list.

While this remote only controls four options, it can control a wide variety of TVs, Blu-ray players, sound systems, and even some streaming services. The simple design includes direction buttons for navigation, volume and channel control, as well as the standard numeric keypad. Perhaps the most important detail is that this remote sells for around $ 5 to $ 10.


  • Cheapest option
  • Easy to use
  • Simple design


  • Basic options
  • Nothing special
  • Controls only four devices
  • Requires programming codes to pair with devices

Are universal remote controls worth the money?

This answer depends entirely on the complexity of your home theater setup. If you only have two remotes then bundling them together probably isn’t worth the money. However, if you have more than five remotes and use them frequently, a universal remote will pay for itself in no time.

Can I use an app on my phone as a universal remote control?

The short answer to this question is, yes, you can use your phone as a universal remote control. It may require purchasing additional equipment, but since your phone uses infrared signals – just like many other electronic devices – it is perfectly possible. Setup will likely be more complex than using a universal remote, but it could save some money.

What should I look for in a universal remote control?

The most important factors when looking for a universal remote control vary from person to person, but overall three different categories are considered: the number of compatible devices the remote will work with, the total number of devices it can control, and the features the remote control itself.

If you buy a universal remote control that is not compatible with certain brands or types of technology, it will be significantly less effective for you. Also, if you have a dozen devices to pair but the remote can only handle five, this is a waste of money. In the event that you have few remote controls that are evenly coordinated with one another, features such as touchscreen, voice control or automatic pairing should be decisive.

Which is the right universal remote control for you?

It’s hard to argue that the Logitech Harmony Elite is the best universal remote on the market, but with such a high price tag it can be difficult to justify buying. If you have the budget for this, it is definitely the better option on the list. However, the SofaBaton U1 probably has the best overall value. It can be connected to several different devices and is the cheapest one. It should be more than enough to get the job done.

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