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The 7 Best Universal Remotes on Earth Today

The 7 Best Universal Remotes to Simplify Your Home Theater

Are you tired of juggling multiple remotes to control your TV, cable box, streaming devices, sound system, and more? A high-quality universal remote can be a game-changer, allowing you to seamlessly control all your home theater components with a single device.

Not only does consolidating to one remote cut down on coffee table clutter, but the best universal remotes make it simple to set up custom activities, quickly switch between devices, and access your favorite content. Some even enable voice control for the ultimate convenience.

To help you find the perfect universal remote for your setup, we‘ve selected the top 7 models available today. Our picks were based on several key criteria:

  • Compatibility with a wide range of devices and brands
  • Ease of setup and use
  • Ability to combine multiple steps into a single button press
  • Useful extras like digital displays, customizable buttons, and smartphone apps
  • Overall value for the price

Whether you want the most fully-featured option, the simplest, or the best bang for your buck, there‘s a universal remote on this list for you. Let‘s dive into the details on each of our top picks.

Best Overall: SofaBaton U1
For most people, the SofaBaton U1 is the ultimate universal remote. It strikes the perfect balance between robust features and reasonable price. The U1 is compatible with over 500,000 devices from 6,000+ brands, so you can be confident it will work with all your home theater components.

The setup process is quick and easy thanks to the intuitive SofaBaton smartphone app. Simply select the devices you want to add from the vast database and the U1 is automatically programmed. The LCD screen displays which devices are currently selected, while the ergonomic backlit keys make navigation a breeze, even in a dark room.

Unique to the U1 is its ability to control up to 15 IR devices and unlimited Bluetooth devices simultaneously. This is far more than most households would ever need. The patented share function also allows friends and family to easily copy your remote‘s setup to their own SofaBaton, which is very handy.

Perhaps the only downside of the U1 is the lack of a touchscreen or customizable buttons that some higher-end remotes offer. But for the price, the SofaBaton U1 over-delivers and is the best universal remote for most people.

Best For Alexa Users: Amazon Fire TV Cube
If your home theater and smart home revolve around Alexa, the Amazon Fire TV Cube is a compelling universal remote option. In addition to controlling your TV, soundbar, cable box, and other IR devices, the Cube acts as a fully-functional Alexa smart speaker.

This enables some very cool features, like the ability to turn on your TV and soundbar, tune to a specific channel, and dim your smart lights with a single Alexa voice command. You can also ask Alexa to help you find content, get information, and control your smart home devices hands-free.

The included Alexa voice remote can control your TV‘s power, volume, and inputs if it‘s not within range of the Cube‘s built-in IR blaster. An ethernet port allows for the most reliable streaming if your Wi-Fi is spotty.

On the downside, the Fire TV Cube really works best with other Alexa-compatible devices. It‘s not ideal if you want to use it with Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit products. But for Alexa households, it‘s a versatile 2-in-1 device that simplifies control of your home theater and smart home.

Best For Simplicity: One For All Streamer
Prefer a more minimalist approach? The One For All Streamer removes all the extraneous keys found on most universal remotes to focus purely on the essentials for controlling a TV, soundbar, and one other device.

The Streamer features only the most important buttons like power, input, volume, and channel up/down, along with some branded keys for popular streaming services. The innovative design incorporates a backlit display around the navigation wheel to indicate which of the three devices you‘re currently controlling.

Despite its simplicity, the Streamer packs in useful features like infrared learning to copy functions from your existing remotes, and macro programming to map multiple commands to a single button press. The ergonomic design fits comfortably in your hand.

While the One For All Streamer isn‘t the most robust universal remote, it nails the basics. If you want one simple remote for your essential living room devices without any complicated extras, this is the one to get.

Best For Control Freaks: URC MX-450
On the other end of the spectrum, the URC MX-450 is the ultimate universal remote for those who want total control and customization. It can manage up to 18 IR devices, plus an unlimited number of IP and RS-232 devices using available ports on the included MRX-4 base station.

The MX-450‘s standout feature is its vibrant 2" color LCD screen, which displays virtual buttons you can customize for specific devices and activities. These supplement the 50 backlit hard buttons, 4 of which are also customizable.

Detailed setup is done via URC‘s desktop software, which offers incredible flexibility in programming the remote, but has a bit of a learning curve. Once you have everything dialed in, you can do things like turn on/off all devices, select inputs, and start an activity with a single tap.

All this power doesn‘t come cheap – the MX-450 is by far the most expensive remote on this list. But if you have a complex system with a lot of components, and want the ability to set everything up exactly how you want it, no other remote offers more control than the URC MX-450.

Best Budget Option: GE 4-Device
You don‘t have to spend a fortune to get a quality universal remote. The GE 4-Device offers the core features most people need to control their home theater at a very wallet-friendly price.

As the name suggests, the GE can control up to 4 audio/video components, including TVs, cable/satellite boxes, streaming devices, Blu-ray players, and soundbars. A large code database allows the remote to work with all major device brands.

Buttons are logically laid out and easy to press, with dedicated keys for the most popular streaming services. The remote is also very lightweight and comfortable to hold during extended binge-watching sessions.

The main downside of the GE 4-Device is the lack of an LCD screen to indicate which device is selected. There‘s also no smartphone app for setup. But at this price point, it‘s hard to complain.

If you have a fairly basic home theater system and just want a reliable remote that handles the essentials without any bells and whistles, the GE 4-Device is an incredible value.

Best Premium Option: SofaBaton X1
For those willing to spend more for the ultimate universal remote experience, the SofaBaton X1 is the new gold standard. It one-ups the excellent U1 model with a few key additions.

First is the inclusion of a hub with IR blasters that can be placed around your room for maximum device coverage and reliability. The X1 also adds Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in addition to IR, allowing it to control smart home devices and hubs, and work with both Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.

The color OLED screen is a nice upgrade from the U1‘s LCD display, and shows your favorite channels with easy access icons. Custom sequences allow you to automate multiple devices with one press.

Setup is just as simple as the U1 via the smartphone app, with a database of 500,000+ devices. The remote itself is sculpted for comfortable long-term use.

Essentially, the SofaBaton X1 has every feature you could possibly want in a universal remote and makes no compromises. It‘s expensive, but if you want the best of the best, this is it.

Best For Streamers: One For All Smart Control 8
Streaming dongles like Roku and Fire TV Sticks have become some of the most common devices attached to TVs. The One For All Smart Control 8 is an excellent mid-range universal remote built with these streamers in mind.

Compatibility with over 8 devices means you can use the Smart Control 8 to command your TV, soundbar, streaming boxes, and more. Dedicated app shortcut keys put your favorite streaming services at your fingertips. There‘s also a "find my remote" alarm to help you locate it between the couch cushions.

The best part is the intuitive setup via One For All‘s smartphone app. This allows you to get the remote up and running quickly, and make changes on the fly. Macros allow you to power on all your devices and start streaming with a single press.

If your home theater revolves around a streaming device and you don‘t need the higher-end customizations of the SofaBaton models, the One For All Smart Control 8 delivers a robust universal remote solution at a reasonable price.

Tips for Using a Universal Remote

While the initial setup of a universal remote can take a bit of time, once you have it programmed it will make operating your home theater so much simpler. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your universal remote:

  • Select the right remote for your needs. Think about how many devices you need to control, what types they are, and which extra features matter most to you.

  • Follow the manufacturer‘s setup instructions carefully. Most universal remotes require entering device codes or going through menus on the included app.

  • Take the time to program custom buttons and macros (if available). Being able to hit one key to execute a series of commands is a huge time saver.

  • Keep your remote updated. Many models allow you to update the device database to ensure maximum compatibility.

  • If your remote has a rechargeable battery, keep it topped off. There‘s nothing worse than having your remote die in the middle of a movie.

The Future of Universal Remotes

As our home theaters have evolved to incorporate more devices and rely more heavily on streaming, universal remotes have kept pace. Logitech‘s discontinuation of its popular Harmony remotes left a void in the market that other brands like SofaBaton and One For All have successfully filled.

We expect future universal remotes to offer even tighter integration with smart home platforms and digital assistants. Remotes with built-in microphones for voice commands, like the Fire TV Cube, will likely become more common.

Smartphones and tablets will also continue to pull double duty as remotes, with more sophisticated control apps that can handle a wide range of IR, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices. However, we don‘t see dedicated remotes going away completely – there‘s still something to be said for physical buttons and a device designed specifically for the job.

Ultimately, the best universal remotes will continue to be the ones that make complex home theaters simple and intuitive to control. They‘ll work with a wide range of devices, offer flexibility in programming, and put the most important functions right at your fingertips. No matter how many components you have in your setup, a well-designed universal remote is one of the best investments you can make in your home theater enjoyment.