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The best universal remotes of 2020

The best universal remotes of 2020

You might be thinking of getting a new TV, soundbar, maybe even a new stereo system. However, if you want to control them all, as well as, say, a streaming stick or gaming system, and not have half a dozen remote controls cluttering your coffee table, you'll want to get one of these best universal remotes. With one, you can automate a number of tasks—such as turning on all the components, and having them change to the right settings—with a single button press. 

However, when it comes to the best universal remotes, the choices are less than universal. After testing all of Logitech’s line of Harmony remotes, the best universal remote is the Logitech Harmony Elite ($279). It can control up to 15 devices including a number of the best smart home devices such as best smart lights and best smart thermostats, integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant, and has a touchscreen that lets you access every setting for every linked remote control. 

The Harmony Companion ($100) is a much more affordable option, and has all of the features of the Elite except for the touchscreen. The best budget universal remote is the Harmony 665 ($49), which can control up to 10 devices, and has a great design. 

For those with Roku or an Amazon Fire TV device, Philips has released a $25 universal remote into which you can slide a remote from Roku or Amazon. It looks a little funky, but it's cheap, and we're curious to see how it works.

Logitech Harmony Elite

(Image credit: Logitech)

1. Logitech Harmony Elite

Best Universal Remote Control

Devices Controlled: 15 | Favorite Channels: 50 | Smart Home Controls: Yes | Mobile App: Yes | Alexa-Enabled: Yes | Size: 7.6 x 2.1 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 5.8 ounces

Easy setup
Intuitive interface
Dedicated smart home buttons
Works with huge number of devices
Heavier than previous version

Logitech’s top-end remote, the aptly named Elite, can control up to 15 devices at once. In addition to physical buttons, it has a color touch screen from which you can quickly select a favorite channel. You can also create custom buttons, such as Watch a Movie, to automatically turn all your devices to the right settings. The Elite works in conjunction with the Harmony Hub (included), enabling you to hide electronics in a cabinet. It also works with several smart-home devices, including Philips Hue lights and the ecobee5 thermostat. It can be connected with Amazon Alexa, so that you can issue Harmony Elite commands using nothing but your voice. It's one of the best Google Home compatible devices, too.

Read our full Logitech Harmony Elite review.

Logitech Harmony 665

(Image credit: Future)

2. Logitech Harmony 665

Best value universal remote

Devices Controlled: 10 | Favorite Channels: 23 | Smart Home Controls: No | Mobile App: No | Alexa-Enabled: No | Size: 10.8 x 1.6 x 2.8 inches | Weight: 7.2 ounces

Controls up to 10 devices
Somewhat involved setup
Nonrechargeable battery

A Best Buy exclusive, the Logitech Harmony 665 has a small display (which is not a touchscreen) with buttons arrayed around it, letting you quickly access activities, favorite channels and more. On-screen help makes it fairly easy to troubleshoot any issues. However, the Harmony 665 works via infrared (IR) only, so you can’t hide any of your entertainment center’s components, and this remote can’t be used to control smart-home devices.

Read our full Logitech Harmony 665 review.

Caavo Control Center

(Image credit: Future)

3. Caavo Control Center

Best universal remote with voice control

Devices Controlled: 4 | Favorite Channels: n/a | Smart Home Controls: No | Mobile App: Yes (iOS) | Alexa-Enabled: Yes | Size: 10.4 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches (Control Center), 6.9 x 1.5 x 0.9 (remote) | Weight: 2.2 pounds (Control Center), 3.5 ounces (remote)

Accurate voice search
Works with a variety of devices
Aggregates content from all your devices into one interface
Curated lists of programs to watch
Can only connect four devices at once
iOS app only
Can't set content preferences
Requires monthly subscription for many features

While the Caavo Control Center can only control four devices at once, it separates itself from Harmony's remotes in that it offers a unified interface, through which you can search through content on any device, as well as a number of streaming services. The Caavo remote has built-in voice search, and a unique section of lists of shows and movies curated by others—That's something Harmony doesn't have. To get all this, though, you'll need to sign up for a Caavo subscription ($1.99/month, or $59.99 for a lifetime membership).

Read our full Caavo Control Center review.

Logitech Harmony Companion

(Image credit: Logitech)

4. Logitech Harmony Companion

A simpler Logitech universal remote

Devices Controlled: 8 | Favorite Channels: n/a | Smart Home Controls: Yes | Mobile App: Yes (iOS) | Alexa-Enabled: Yes | Size: 10.2 x 5.5 x 3.6 inches | Weight: 14 ounces

Controls smart home devices
Lacks touchscreen

Similar to the Harmony Elite, the Harmony Companion can also control smart-home devices in addition to your entertainment center. The biggest difference is the Companion’s lack of a screen of any kind, so you’ll have to designate physical buttons to enable Watch TV mode, for instance. It, too, comes with the Harmony Hub, allowing you to not only hide components, but also let you use Alexa to control your TV and more.