Universal remote controls have been around for some time and have come a long way. You can control your media center, IR devices, and even your smart home. But are universal remote controls worth your money? If so, which should you buy?
What can a universal remote control do?
Before deciding whether a universal remote is worth your money (and which one you want to buy), you should know this universal remote. Remote controls can control more than just a TV.
We'll take a quick look at the features of the Logitech Harmony Companion, as it's probably the most ruggedized universal remote control. Note that other (cheaper) universal remote controls may only contain one or two of these features, which we will discuss later.
This can be done by universal remote controls for you:
- Simplify your Media Center : Universal remote controls can emulate IR radiation from any remote control. In other words, you can control multiple devices with a remote control.
- Creating TV Routines: A universal remote can also automate your TV processes. For example, if you want to turn on your TV and PS4 at the touch of a button, you can do so with a universal remote. You can also refine this routine by adding time-saving commands such as "Switch to HDMI Input 2".
- Control Your Smarthome : In addition to IR controls, can provide some universal remote Wi Fi-enabled smarthome devices. This means that you can control Alexa, Google Assistant, Philips Hue and other devices through the universal remote control (or the associated phone app). These smarthome features can also be used in conjunction with television programs. For example, you can set your Philips Hue lights to dimm when the PlayStation is turned on.
- Smart Make "Dumb" Devices : Some universal remote controls can control any device with an IR sensor (cheap lights, portable air conditioners), etc.). In fact, they can technically make their "stupid" devices intelligent. An electric fireplace equipped with a universal remote can be controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant, or added to Smarthome routines. (This is only possible with SmartHome-compatible remote controls.)
Now that you know what universal remote controls can do, you can get involved.
Do you own a complicated media center?
If your TV is connected to just one video source, you probably do not need a universal remote. However, if your Media Center consists of a cable box, some game consoles, a Blu-ray player, and an old VHS player (for example), a universal remote is probably worth your money.
Apart from the ability to turn on different devices with a single remote control, some universal remote controls, such as the Logitech Harmony Companion or the Harmony 665, can create custom routines. You can program your PS4 and TV to switch on at the touch of a button (some TVs with HDMI-CECs can not use a universal remote). Or you can extend the routine by adding commands such as "Turn on HDMI input 2 at" or "Set the volume to 20".
Of course you can also do things with a cheap remote like the GE 33709 or simply hold the Philips Universal Remote. These remotes have no intelligent functions or routines, but can control up to four devices simultaneously. It's still better than fidgeting with a bunch of different remote controls.
Do you have a sturdy smarthome?
Even with a tiny media center, a universal remote can be worth your money. That is, as long as you have (or want to) a sturdy smarthome.
Basically, remote controls such as Harmony Hub, Harmony Companion and Fire TV Cube can be easily integrated into a smart home. You can control devices like the Philips Hue bulbs and set up smarthome smart routines.
As already mentioned, some universal remote controls can also turn any IR-controlled "dumb" device into an intelligent device. If you're controlling a bunch of Christmas lights from an IR remote, you can integrate them into your Alexa or Google Assistant setup with a universal remote. Then you can control the lights with voice commands or with typical Smarthome routines.
The thing is, Smarthome-enabled universal remote controls are expensive. The Logitech Harmony Companion costs about $ 105, and the Amazon Fire TV Cube (which only works with some stupid devices) costs about $ 120. To be fair, these remotes may be cheaper than replacing your current IR-controlled soundbar, Blu-ray player or Christmas lights.
I want a universal remote that I should buy?
If you can not justify the price of a universal remote, you probably do not need it. Buying a $ 10 universal remote such as the GE 33709 does not make sense if you are satisfied with your media center. And you probably do not need a $ 105 Logitech Harmony Companion if you do not have smarthome devices.
If you're tired of your complicated media center or want to control your electric fireplace with voice commands, a universal remote can be well worth the money. They are relatively easy to set up and can make your life much easier.
There are a lot of universal remote controls on the market, and it can be hard to find one that fits your needs. So we'll quickly go over the best universal remote controls and explain why they might be useful to you. We will also divide these remotes into Basic and Smarthome-Ready categories to keep things simple.
Here are our preferred "Basic" Universal Remote Controls:
- GE 33709 ($ 10): This 4-device remote is as simple as it gets. It's a bit like a cable TV remote and works with just about any device in your media center.
- Philips Universal Remote Control ($ 10): A small remote control with four devices configured for streaming, Blu-ray, DVD and DVR functionality. It has as many buttons as any other remote control, but this is a good choice if you do not watch a lot of live TV.
- Sideclick for Roku ($ 25): If you're using most of your television with a Roku, then the Sideclick can eliminate the need for a bulky universal remote. The Sideclick connects to your Roku remote and can control your TV, media player and cable box.
- Logitech Harmony 665 ($ 69): This 15-device remote has a built-in screen and is capable of the following IR-based routines. It's not smart, but it's a great option if you want an optimized universal remote.
Remember that they all perform different tasks. So do not go for the cheapest (or most expensive) remote without knowing what it does:
- Logitech Harmony Hub ($ 70): A Harmony Hub (San's Remote) can hold up to eight Control smart home devices (including smart TVs). It comes without a remote control and requires you to do everything through the Harmony app on your smartphone. This is a good option if you do not really need a remote that works with IR-controlled devices. All you need to know is that "dumb" technologies can not be extended to include the Smarthome functionality.
- Logitech Harmony Companion ($ 105): This is the ultimate smarthome-enabled universal remote. It can control up to eight IR and Smarthome devices and make "stupid" devices intelligent. It's also compatible with the Harmony app, so you can control everything with your phone. This is an excellent option for someone who wants to have everything from a single remote control.
- Amazon Fire TV Cube ($ 120): If you already own a range of Alexa-enabled devices, the Fire TV Cube can provide a worry-free universal remote. Just know that it can only control a few devices, especially TVs, soundbars, cable boxes and A / V receivers. And if you ask yourself, you do not need to use the Fire TV / Prime Video app.
Again, do not buy any of these remotes if you do not need them. But if you really want one (or know someone who needs a pretty gift), maybe it's time to get your wallet out. We are sure that you will not regret it.