The Best Universal Remotes of 2019

Product Use case Rating
Logitech Harmony Elite Best Universal Remote Control 4.5
Logitech Harmony 665 Best Value Remote 4
Caavo Control Center Unified Interface 3.5
Logitech Harmony Companion Best Midrange Remote N/A

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 a universal remote. With it, 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 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 smart home gadgets such as lights and thermostats, integrates with Alexa and Google Home, 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. 

Latest News & Updates (April 2019)

  • Logitech's newest universal remote, the Harmony Express ($249) has Alexa built in, so you can use Amazon's voice assistant to turn on your TV, launch streaming apps, and more. However, in our review of the Logitech Harmony Express, we found that using voice control for everything wasn't as intuitive as it should be.
  • Caavo announced several new features for its smart remote. If you have more than one Caavo in your house, Telescope lets you view what's playing on the other Caavo, so you can monitor what your kids are watching. Other enhancements include full integration with TiVo DVRs, support for OTA tuners from Dish, TiVo, and ChannelMaster; and compatibility with SamsungSony, and LG smart TVs, Android TV, and Roku TV. 

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 ecobee4 thermostat. Plus, it can be connected with Amazon Alexa, so that you can issue Harmony Elite commands using nothing but your voice.

What Owners Are Saying

The Harmony Elite averaged 3.7 out of 5 stars among the 1,100-plus Amazon reviews. More than 80 percent of those reviews are legit, according to Fakespot.com, which uses algorithms to determine whether owner reviews are fake.

Those who wrote reviews on Amazon generally praised the Elite’s comprehensiveness, but noted there’s a bit of a learning curve. “It takes awhile to figure out all its capabilities but after you realize how it can control pretty much all your entertainment needs, it's wonderful,” said one reviewer.

Another person, who rated the remote 3 out of 5, took some issue with its ergonomics. “When you hold the remote it's rather difficult to reach the touch screen and some of the buttons with your thumb...The smart home buttons on the bottom of the remote are a nice touch, but I feel they’re a bit more of a novelty than a necessity since there are plenty of other standalone switches & voice control devices that can do the same job.”

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.

What Owners Are Saying

The Harmony 665 has been reviewed more than 1,000 times on Best Buy's site, with an average rating of 4.4 stars (out of 5). Most praised the remote's design and robust programming features, but cautioned that setup could be a little intimidating, especially for novices.

"The Harmony 665 is a very capable device, but there is a learning curve if you’ve never used one of these," wrote one user. "Frankly, most of this learning curve comes from trying to navigate Logitech's MyHarmony support site and their desktop software (needed to program the remote)."

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).

What Owners Are Saying

The Caavo Control Center is relatively new, so it currently has less than 200 reviews on Amazon. However, those that did purchase the device give it an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. "After a few months using the Caavo, it is still working well," wrote one customer. "My two minor issues currently are the remote and the lack of updates/news from support. The remote works, but since it's just plastic it continues to feel super cheap compared to my other remotes (Shield TV and Apple TV have glass and metal)."

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.

What Owners Are Saying

The Harmony Companion received 3.5 out of 5 stars from more than 1,100 Amazon customers, some of whom liked it more than the pricier Harmony Elite. Of the reviews on Amazon, more than 90 percent are accurate, according to Fakespot.com.

This is a really fantastic universal remote system, especially if you have home automation devices like lights or blinds,” said one reviewer.Adding the Home Control buttons towards the top made them shift the play/pause section down lower where your thumb naturally rests...In fact, this shift is why I would recommend this remote over the Smart Control even for users without home automation devices to control.” 

The biggest complaint was the lack of backlit keys. “The only downfall is the key pad has no backlight,” said one reviewer. It’s difficult to see the correct button to push when it is dark in the room.”

Logitech's least expensive remote lets you control up to eight devices, and favorite five channels. While it lacks a screen like the 665, it will let you start your entertainment center with the push of a single button. It lacks smart home controls, so consumers who want to dim their lights using a TV remote should look to one of Logitech's more expensive options.


5 comments
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  • Robert_481
    Well, I can't say I agree with your assessment. Spec-wise, the Harmony's are absolutely great, actual usage, not so much. The cloud based storage of the remotes is broken at the moment, you cannot change anything, but even when it's working, the software just isn't as good as the specs -- ever. Also why, oh why doesn't Logitech put real number keys on their upper end remotes?? I need an upper end remote because I have a lot of devices, but I totally hate the minimalist physical buttons.

    Truth be told, I don't know of anything better because all the review sites are enamored with the Harmony's, but I sure would like to hear of something!!
  • americanaudiophile
    The better remotes are for custom installers not consumers
    The URC Pro and RTI remotes are excellent but require programming and are not cheap. They can work over IR, RF, and WIFI. They have hard button remotes which are usually better for AV than a touchscreen but they have apps if you want to go that way too.
    The programming software isn't easy to master for most people and isn't usually out there for the end user. You can customize the layout and set up macros in any way you like since the programming isn't on the cloud. You can teach commands from other remotes into your database. In the RTI you can even enter hex codes and set up auto repeats for commands that are fussy.
  • Robert_481
    Thanks, I'll have to take a look at those, though I really don't want to have to do raw programming on something for home!

    I expect Logitech to get their software fixed eventually, but it sure seems like there's an opening for some competition in the home market.
  • jason.cae
    yea, 100% agreed Robert. Wish there was a 500-1000 dollar range product that worked for your typical closet/remote setups. If anyone finds one; let me know.

    There is custom pro setups costing in the thousands and then harmony at 100-200, URC crap pisses me of because they offer no easy way to get the software. Authorized dealer crap only is a real turn off, develop applications that run 500+ node clusters for mission critical software @ 99.999% uptime, can probably handle setting up a universal remote for AV. Not a huge fan of allowing a grad student from geek squad fumble with my AV setup.

    Currently stuck with harmony hub; which seems to quirky and buggy with a UI that makes me want to throw it out window. Probably the worse is the odd bug where devices slow down to respones over time, deleting and re-adding fixes.

    Played with the PI project here; but its under developed (great idea though); https://github.com/bbtinkerer/LircNodeJsWeb

    Think the dream would be a IR hub that connected to a old ipad/driod with some type of stay resident software. Since most of us have a stack of old tablets. Before you say harmony; try programming that guy with a ipad... Then the UI... omg.... its like they purposely made it shit to sell their remotes.
  • jsmithepa
    Am still running on a very old, discontinued Phillips Pronto Neo, but every time I want to upgrade it, I read all the bad reviews and the $^%# buttons locations, paying all that $ and keep hearing "they gonna fix it next firmware" (God, I haven't heard that before) convinces me to keep what I got.

    Am very insistent a universal must have certain things: One-hand operation, so size and location of buttons matters. The Pronto Neo has the perfect number of hard buttons vs soft buttons, you don't want 100-buttons complicated but enough to get the job done with minimum keypress. My Neo, as all Pronto I suppose every button can be a macro, that makes it very flexible and highly customizable.

    I feel like Logitech universals are like Teslas, they reel you in with whizzbang features but when you bring it home, the doors don't close properly, big gaps on panels, the screen crashes..... can't anybody do things right out of the door? Grrrgg.