Are you are a tech-junkie with a stack to rival the Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound? Or a tired parent whose kids refuse to change the channel or adjust the volume for their footsore caregiver? Maybe you are just sick of having six or eight remote controls floating around the family room. In any case, there is a wide range of choices available when it comes to the best universal remotes for your needs.
Different devices have different capabilities, but they are all designed to have one thing in common, to make life easier. The question is, just how easy do you want your life to be? There are smartphone compatible devices, home control devices, devices capable of manipulating up to fifteen or eighteen components, and of course the simple universal remotes that require very little savvy to operate. The question again is, how complicated do you want to make your life of ease?
Features to Consider Before You Buy
- Price. Certainly, one of the first questions you must ask yourself is how much you are willing to spend. The best universal remotes can range in price from less than ten dollars to over two hundred dollars.
- Ease of Use. You must consider the setup that you wish to control as well as how difficult the remote itself is to ‘setup.’ You will find during the course of your search that the best universal remotes can operate fifteen or more devices. Some of these will even control compatible lights and WiFi thermostats in your home. Others are designed as simple replacements to manage only one device.
- Batteries. Yes, Batteries. Simple universal remotes will run on two AA or AAA batteries with commensurate lifespan. High end device will require lithium cells or even come with a rechargeable battery and charging cradle.
- Design. While certainly practical, a remote control should also be aesthetically pleasing. It will be used multiple times, everyday, by multiple people and should be comfortable to use as well as easy to hold and operate. Large button, touch-screen, and ergonomic options are available. Certain controllers even link to a smartphone app allowing the user to manage devices from many different locations within or without the home.
Top 10 Best Universal Remotes Comparison Guide
Reviews of the Top Rated Universal Remotes
The Inteset INT-422 takes the top spot on this list as the most highly rated universal remote control available with seventy percent of users offering a five star rating. This device is an affordable and popular choice. The INT-422 controller is designed to operate popular streaming devices right out of the box which is very handy in our digital world; Apple TV®, Xbox One®, Windows Media Center®, Roku®, and other media streaming devices are all pre-programmed into the Inteset allowing for seamless transition to this single device. It is also readily compatible with your television, set-top box (cable), as well as many of the other components that you may own.
Programming the Inteset to operate your components is a breeze with a worldwide database of device codes and a library search function. One very popular utility, which is generally featured on remotes with a much higher price tag, is the macro programming. This allows for a string of commands to be entered into the device to power up and coordinate all the components necessary for any given A/V experience with the touch of a single button.
With its very modest sticker price, it is small wonder that the Sony RMVLZ620 Universal Remote Control falls near the top of the charts at number two. The RMVLZ620 controls up to eight A/V components and allows for up to twelve one-touch programming options (macros). A learning function creates a seamless experience when setting up and using this device for expanded equipment control of non-Sony components.
Sony offers a very practical best universal remotes with the RMVLZ620, both in presentation and function. Powered by two AA batteries this one definitely feels like you are getting some bang for your buck.
The Flipper Big Button Universal Remote is exactly as it sounds, easy to see and easy to use. Marketed toward the less tech-savvy consumer, the Flipper is set up to control two components faultlessly.
Advertised as “the only senior friendly remote specially designed for digital broadcast technology,” this universal remote features tactile friendly buttons and functional labels for ease of use, a programmable Favorite Channel option, and setup locks to prevent the inadvertent reprogramming of the TV and set-top box. The Flipper makes any low tech consumers’ digital experience straightforward and trouble free without breaking the bank.
The Logitech Harmony 650 is one of the most popular and best universal remotes on our list. The slightly higher price tag brings this in at number four. It is fully capable of controlling up to eight components and is compatible with over 225,000 devices. The Harmony 650 connects seamlessly to both Macintosh and Windows computers for quick and easy setup via online software.
Ergonomic, backlit, and offering a full color command screen this remote is one of the more aesthetically pleasing devices reviewed here and those consumers with a bit of technological know-how will love this remote as it should handle all of their needs comfortably. Logitech also offers a couple more advanced models that come with a higher price tag attached, even offering a full color touch-screen and home control on some of their high-end gadgets.
Certainly not the least of the top five devices presented here is the MX-450 Custom Programmable Remote Control. The sticker price may be a little shocking on these particular best universal remotes but the capabilities are as considerable as the battery capacity (four AA batteries required). Boasting narrow band RF transmission as well as the standard IR transmitter, the MX-450 is fully qualified to operate any device you may have, and some you may not. The RF transmitter requires the addition of the MRF-260 base station but allows for control from places in the home or office which may be less than optimal. This feature also allows the user to control devices inside of a closet or closed cabinet. You don’t have to point the remote at the device you are trying to operate.
Capable of running up to eighteen components including certain home control features, the MX-450 sports a full color command screen and on-screen program editing. Set the macros and run all necessary components for any situation with a single touch.
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