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Can I use my smartphone as a remote control? By far, the most useful feature of the Harmony 665—the one that will keep you from pulling your hair out if you have a problem with the way your system is working—is the help function, which you access from a button above the display. We live with each remote for a while to see how intuitive and reliable it is to use on a daily basis. Finally, setting it up will be but a breeze as the universal wireless programming will allow you to avoid cutting into the garage wiring and you won't have to install an unsightly receiver. If your control needs are fairly straightforward—that is, all your AV gear can be controlled via standard infrared signals and you don’t need to integrate smart-home products—the Logitech Harmony 665 is a more affordable alternative to the Harmony Companion. We were looking for something more, and these are the criteria we applied: In years past, if you wanted a more advanced universal remote that you could program yourself, you had many choices from brands like Sony, Pronto, URC, and UEI. Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser said, "It misses out on the 650's great Help feature and display, but … First, the remote has no physical buttons, and both the touchscreen and the virtual buttons on it are very small. One nice feature: Harmony remotes have activity buttons specifically mapped to “watch Roku,” “watch cable,” and “watch TV,” eliminating the need for dedicated input switching. The best universal remote control is the one that gives you more options to integrate the various devices for an easy operation. On Dell. The Hub then emits the appropriate IR, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi signal to control the associated components. It’s capable of controlling up to 10 AV devices, it features an easy-to-read, backlit color display, and the built-in Remote Assistant function is great for troubleshooting. Although we haven’t tested it as of yet, TechHive confirms that it works as advertised, and based on what you’ve described, it should come the closest to meeting your mom’s requirements. The remote is a sleek, stripped-down design with important buttons like home, microphone, volume, back, menu, and more (but no backlighting). This built-in help function, along with the ability to easily set up Activities, makes the Harmony 665 simple enough for nearly anyone to use. The Harmony Companion can control eight AV components (including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices), doesn’t require line of sight to your gear, and can even control smart-home products. The main reason why people enjoy them so much is that they enable you to control all of the components of your home theater system with a single remote. The Harmony 665 does have some drawbacks. This location can be inside a cabinet behind closed doors, on top of a stack of AV components, or even in another part of the room. You can purchase the Harmony Hub as a standalone unit (without a remote) and just use your mobile device with the free Harmony iOS/Android app as your remote control. It’s easier to program than any non-Harmony remote. The Elite is a pleasure to use, and it has the responsiveness and polish of a professionally installed control system, but it also costs a lot more than the Companion. Explore. The best USB Wi-Fi adapters. Published questions are edited for space and clarity. RCA offers a four-device-capable “universal” replacement remote, as well as two-, three-, and six-device versions. This $10 Insignia cable from Best Buy worked with the MacBook Pro laptop we used. Our electronics experts bought and tested the top 10 universal remotes available today and put them through a rigorous side-by-side comparison to find the very best. A newsletter a day keeps the FOMO at bay. That’s because using your mobile device’s touchscreen as a remote requires you to look away from the TV screen and down at your device as you search for the right part of the screen to touch, making channel surfing and volume tweaking cumbersome. Like most of the universal remotes we’ve tested, the Companion remote lacks a built-in microphone to access the voice-search function in a streaming media device. One of the highlights of the whole Harmony line is that these remotes are pretty simple to program, at least for universal remotes. But when we needed to fix buttons or troubleshoot issues, we found the app to be a bit more cumbersome to navigate, and we sometimes experienced connection issues with the Harmony servers. Once you answer all the necessary questions, you’re done. Unfortunately, a couple of issues hold this one back. Learn more. If you’re a Catalina user with a Hub remote like the Companion or Elite, you now have to use the Harmony app. The system works with IR, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth devices, including a variety of smart-home products, and the free iOS/Android control app provides a second method of managing everything. The remote comes equipped with 3 buttons, so you will be able to control up to 3 brands of garage door openers. As you create your Activities, MyHarmony asks a series of questions, such as: “What input should your AV receiver be set to when you watch a movie?” and “Which device controls the volume?” The Harmony software performs all the complex macro calculations in the background, so you don’t have to. The best universal remote control By Joel Santo Domingo This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. One remote that we think might work out well for you is the Sideclick. The remote is fully backlit and more responsive, with a nicer design that makes it feel more like the remote for a professionally installed control system—but all of that comes with a big jump in price. When we took the Energizer Recharge Universal AAs out for a spin, they kept their remote-control car racing for 16 hours, and the Panasonic-powered car lasted 15.5 hours. The best universal remote control. That’s why we're here to help. An activity-based design, as described above, is strongly preferred. You can, for instance, program the system to dim the room’s lighting when you launch the “Watch a movie” activity and turn it back on when you’re done. At the moment, these include Philips Hue lighting, Nest Learning thermostats, Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostats, Rheem EcoNet water heaters, and smart-home hubs from Lutron Caséta. However, since it can’t communicate over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it isn’t compatible with smart devices and some AV equipment, and it needs line of sight with your gear. Like our top pick, the Logitech Harmony Elite is a two-piece system that uses the Harmony Hub, so you get all the same advantages. Setup is easy, and the system reliably controlled our gear without any major problems. If you can never remember which is the DVR button and which is the Guide button, you’ll struggle to operate the remote in the dark. When it comes time to use the remote, just press the desired Activity button, and the Harmony turns everything on and switches each device to the correct settings. Let us help you. You can still find some older DIY URC remotes online but at elevated prices. With many schools closed this fall, it’s time to set up a remote schoolwork area for kids that’ll make learning a little easier. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use universal remote to control up to eight devices, we recommend the Logitech Harmony 650. It can control up to 20 IR devices, has a rechargeable battery, and has Spotify and Sonos support built in. Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser write, "The Harmony 650 remains the best universal remote … When you press a button on the Companion remote, it sends a radio signal to the Hub, telling it which button you’ve pushed. But figuring out which universal remote is right for you could be tricky. How to buy a laptop for your kid (or revive an old one) 04.10.20 View. It’s the best option for most people looking to simplify the operation of their home theater or media system. The iQ3 also makes … It also has an app that lets you troubleshoot issues from anywhere with an Internet connection. Using this setup, we created recipes to turn a complex home theater system on and off with simple voice commands. Generally, the help function should be able to rectify the problem, but it’s still less than perfect. For a setup like this, a universal remote probably isn’t necessary, since basic control of these devices (such as browsing content, changing channels, and adjusting volume) is built into—or can be easily added to—the remote that came with your media player or TV. Wirecutter Skip To Content A Harmony remote, however, is still worth considering, because it’s the only option that actually consolidates all the remotes into one. This is the model to get if you have a large and expanding home theater system and you want the best handheld remote. Caavo Universal Remote. Plus, it is no longer listed on Logitech’s Harmony page, so it may already be nearing its end. The Sideclick is technically a separate remote, but it has a basic layout and attaches to an existing Roku remote, so it’s functionally the same as having a single remote. Harmony’s flagship DIY remote supports up to 15 devices and has a customizable color touchscreen for maximum flexibility in controlling AV gear and smart-home devices. Perhaps you'd consider including this scenario for your next update to the best universal remotes? Logitech, which has a number of models, is by far the dominant player, with the Logitech Harmony Elite as the best universal remote overall. This is the remote to get if you have a lot of gear—it can control up to 15 devices (up from the Companion’s eight-device limit), so it potentially replaces up to 15 other remotes. The best universal remotes can control more than just the TV obviously. Wirecutter is reader-supported. So users of a Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, or Shield TV may still need to keep their original remote nearby if they prefer voice search over text search. However, some popular AV devices don’t use IR remotes, such as Sony’s PlayStation 4, Sonos’s wireless speakers, Philips Hue lighting, and certain Amazon Fire TV devices. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. The Harmony Companion controls Roku boxes as well as cable boxes and TVs. Q: I came to this page looking for the "ultra simple" use case. Like RCA, One for All has several universal remotes in its lineup (for sale in the United States, at least), including the Simple 4; these have similarly limited programmability and support only three or four devices. The typical living-room entertainment system may include a single source device—say, a streaming media player, cable/satellite set-top box, or gaming console—plus a smart TV and a soundbar. How to Set Up a Remote Learning Space for Your Kids, The Best Mosquito Control Gear for Your Patio or Yard, Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent Gen 2.0. One benefit of having the IR emitters in a separate hub is that it no longer matters where you point the handheld remote. During that time, she has reviewed numerous audio and video products, including virtually every major DIY universal-remote platform. Adrienne Maxwell is the editor of Wirecutter's audio/video team, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Easy to program and use, the Harmony 665 can control up to 10 AV components, and it has an LCD screen and a convenient help function—but it can control only IR devices and no … Dec 13, 2020 - 3 Recommendations. If you just want a simple, great-sounding pair of wired earbuds, we recommend the Final E4000. The Harmony Companion is our pick for the best universal remote because it combines a good physical design with the flexibility to control a variety of devices. For instance, instead of having to push separate buttons to turn on your TV, switch HDMI inputs, power on your AV receiver, change inputs there, turn on your Blu-ray player, and—finally—get your movie started, a good universal remote can reduce all of that to one command (Play Movie) that you can access at the touch of a single button. Using this process, you should be able to map the volume and input buttons from the TV remote and the channel-changing buttons from most cable-box remotes. For most people, the very best universal remote is the Logitech Harmony Elite and, while it may be the most expensive, it’s well worth the price. However, because the Caavo system is more of a control platform than a universal remote, it won’t be the right fit for everyone: You can only connect HDMI sources to the control box; the remote’s limited button options can make performing more advanced tasks challenging; and you have to subscribe to the Caavo service ($4 per month, $40 per year, or a one-time lifetime subscription fee of $130 at the time of this writing). The Logitech Harmony 650 is our pick for the best universal remote. However, if you’re looking for advanced whole-house control, with lots of complex lighting scenes and independent control of different sources in different rooms, a do-it-yourself universal remote may not be up to the task. The Companion may offer more functionality than some people need, which makes it a bit more expensive than a basic universal remote. While there is a big price gap between the most sophisticated remotes and the simplest ones, options like the … The Caavo Control Center + Universal Remote combines a handheld remote and an HDMI switch/control box (with four HDMI inputs and one output). Plus, it’s a real pain to have to wake up your phone and wait for the app to reconnect with the system anytime you want to change the channel or the volume. If you answer no, the Harmony 665 asks further questions, such as “Is the AV Receiver off?” If your answer is yes, the remote sends out a command to turn the receiver back on and then once again asks, “Did that fix the problem?” Yes turns off help; no initiates another question, and so on. Our smart-home staffers aren’t the only ones who love their gadgets. Learn more. Using the app to set up the Harmony Companion is simple enough, as long as everything works the way it’s supposed to. But today’s DIY category has dwindled to one main brand: Harmony, owned by Logitech. You also can’t use the Harmony 665 with components that are tucked away in a cabinet, unless you add your own IR extenders or an RF converter. This model integrates the Roku platform into the TV itself and comes with a Roku remote that controls both the Roku interface and the TV (it lacks a dedicated input-switching button, but that functionality is built into the Home screen). A universal remote control has to be, well, universal. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s limited to controlling AV devices that accept infrared (IR) remote controls. It’s easy to program: You just hold down the top and bottom buttons on the Sideclick, aim it at the remote you want it to mimic, press the button on the Sideclick you’re trying to program, and push the corresponding button on the remote you’re copying from. The remote lacks backlighting, and Logitech’s app-based setup can sometimes be frustrating, but this system still delivers the best combination of features, flexibility, and control that we’ve found for the price. You can customize all the activity names or create your own. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. It can control 10 AV devices and is easy to set up via the MyHarmony desktop software. Caavo’s Universal TV Remote and Control Center Home Theater Hub is an all-in-one control hub for your TV, home video, sound systems, gaming consoles and streaming devices. Wirecutter is reader-supported. But a growing number of devices, especially game consoles (like the Sony PlayStation 4) and streaming media products (like some Nvidia Shield TV and Amazon Fire TV products), are controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, so you’ll need a universal remote that supports those technologies. The screen then switches to pages customized for that activity, and the control options can go satisfyingly deep. At the end of the day, it should make the operation of your home entertainment and other home facilities much, much easier and more stress-free. A remote that can juggle at least eight devices at once should cover the average audio/video enthusiast’s system—which may include a TV (or projector), a DVD/Blu-ray player, a cable/satellite DVR, a surround-sound receiver, and probably a media streamer (such as a Roku or Apple TV). Unless you have devices scattered all around the room, we don’t think this extra perk will be that useful. But your mom might want to hold on to the cable remote for viewing the programming guide, entering a specific channel number (the Sideclick has no numbers), or ordering pay-per-view shows using the menu system. Logitech maintains an astoundingly large remote control code database that covers more than 270,000 home theater devices. To test the remotes we call in, we set each one up to control at least two different AV systems in our home. Unfortunately, the Roku TV remote cannot control many cable boxes—and even if it could, it still lacks a number pad and the buttons necessary to access the program guide. It uses a single CR2032 button battery that Logitech says should last up to one year. Best buy: Logitech Harmony 650 than just the TV obviously a couple of issues hold one... Cabinet or gear closet model controls up to eight devices, the Harmony Companion best universal remote wirecutter Roku boxes as as! Comfortable and solidly built, and the Roku but not the cable box anywhere within reach of your wireless,! One main brand: Harmony, owned by Logitech, at least for universal remotes era of Smart,. Partnership with Wirecutter included in the activity, the remote with your by... Be controlled by a remote for a while to see how intuitive and reliable Smart garage-door controller tested. 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