Home technology and entertainment has morphed in the past decades from a few simple devices into a wide variety of gadgets and equipment. While taking advantage of all these items have to offer, their appeal becomes somewhat less if you have to continually get up to operate them. Technology has answered this need in the form of the universal remote.
Universal remotes are capable of not only controlling obvious devices, such as televisions and media players, they are now able to operate home sound and theater systems, and even smart home features. Given how versatile and handy they are, they carry with them a surprisingly low price tag, even for the more quality models. As such, it pays to do the research to end up with one that will work out beautifully.
Universal Remotes to Look For
There are a few important features to examine when deciding which brand or model you want to go with. Sure, the quality and reliability is undoubtedly important; however, given that there are several companies making quality universal remotes, the capabilities and extras of individual models will likely play a heavy role in your decision.
- Device Count: How many devices the remote can control. This is important if you have a specific number of devices you want to connect now or in the future.
- Ease of Use: Some remotes can be quite complex to operate. Knowing your level of technical aptitude, and picking a remote to match, will save you frustration down the line.
- Compatibility: While most modern universal remotes are compatible with thousands of brands and models, it pays to ensure yours is one of them before plunking down the cash.
- Price: As previously mentioned, many excellent universal remotes are eminently affordable, making price less of a consideration. However, if you are on a tight budget, this may certainly come into play.
- Extras: Controlling smart home devices, phone apps, preprogrammed streaming, touchscreens, and even AI learning are just a few of the cool extras you can find on more pricey models. However, even many of the less-expensive models may sport one of more of these features.
Top Universal Remotes
The options available for a good universal remote abound today, and keep growing as the years pass. However, not all home entertainment setups are the same. The number of devices to control, as well as where and how they are placed in the home, are unique to each home’s shape and size and their owners’ individual preferences. Following are some of the best models you can find, and which assets they most shine for.
If price is no option, and you are looking to acquire the hands-down best universal remote out there, the Logitech Harmony Elite is probably going to be your best pick. This gem pairs with a base station, which allows it to be used in any area of the house, no matter where the base is located. Its signal can penetrate walls with ease, and needs no direct line of sight.
The number of features packed into this device are staggering. The Harmony Elite pairs up easily with smart home product, Amazon Alexa, giving you voice control for up to 15 different connected devices. A beautiful touchscreen allows you to swipe and tap to activate different features or devices, and control volume or channel switching. It is, however, important to note that a price tag in excess of $300 makes it one of the more expensive models around.
If you really want a good amount of features, but do not want to pay through the nose, another worthy inclusion from Logitech is the solution: the Logitech Harmony Companion. Combined with an RF signal, which allows operation no matter where you are in relation to the base, the ability to control everything with a smartphone, and several activity-based buttons, its $150 price tag makes it the top remote for the money.
At the exact opposite end of the spectrum in terms of price is the GE 33709. While it’s $10 average price tag may suggest it is cheaply made and equipped, nothing could be farther from the truth. This model only allows up to four devices, so it is perfect for a simple entertainment setup. A master volume control, some brightly-colored buttons, and long usage time between battery replacements, all make the 33709 a worthy inclusion for the budget conscious, or those who just need a backup.
If you really are on a strict budget, but want a few more capabilities than the barebones offered by the GE 33709, the Philips SRP5018/27 is a likely selection. Not only does it have a mere $20 average cost, it allows a total of eight devices to be connected at once, double the amount available from its GE counterpart. Preprogrammed access buttons to favorites like Hulu, sound bar support, and backlit buttons for easy night time use, all add on to turn this handy remote into a top selection for those with less to spend.
Finding a good universal remote can spell the difference between a home entertainment setup that is simply adequate, and one that is truly enjoyable to use. With all of the amazing features and pricing available today, finding the best one for your setup should be a snap.