The Best Universal Remotes of 2017 (All Happen To Be From Logitech)

Not Just a Replacement for Lost Remotes

Counting your TV, your cable box, your stereo, your soundbar and your streaming- video device, you probably have at least half a dozen remote controls cluttering your coffee table. A universal remote lets you control all of your equipment with just a single wand.

Not only does a universal clicker make your living room a lot nicer to look at, but you’ll no longer have to hunt down AA batteries as often. Some advanced remotes will also let you control smart-home devices, so you can dim the lights when you start watching a movie, and not have to leave the couch.

However, when it comes to universal remotes, the choices are less than universal. Logitech’s line of Harmony remotes are pretty much the only ones available, and worth purchasing. Fortunately, the company sells several models — all rated highly on Amazon — which vary in price based on features.

Logitech Harmony 665

A Best Buy exclusive, the black  Logitech Harmony 665 has a small display 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

While the Harmony 665 is only available through Best Buy, its predecessor, the Harmony 650 (which is essentially the same, but can only control 8 devices) has been reviewed by more than 8,000 individuals on Amazon, who gave it 4 out of 5 stars. More than 90 percent of those reviews are accurate, according to the reviews analysis site Fakespot. 

Credit: LogitechCredit: Logitech“The software is very very intuitive,” said one customer. “Simply plug in the remote to your computer and then enter the model number of your TV, Cable Box, Receiver, etc... and the remote walks you through what each system does and when.

Another was pleasantly surprised by the 650’s display. “Before I purchased it I was concerned that the smaller screen would be a problem, but it turns out that the hardware buttons on top make up easily for the smaller screen.”

Logitech Harmony Elite




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 4 out of 5 stars among the 600-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.

Credit: LogitechCredit: LogitechThose 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.”

Logitech Harmony Companion


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 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.

Credit: LogitechCredit: LogitechThis 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.”


New & Notable

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.

Create a new thread in the Audio forum about this subject
3 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • 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!!
    0
  • 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.
    0
  • 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.
    0