Best universal remotes 2019: From entry-level clickers to pro zappers

If you have a number of devices in your house, universal remotes bring efficiency, simplicity, and peace to your setup – they can take control of all the gadgetry you’ve got installed without breaking sweat and can be upgraded via their firmware to be compatible with anything you buy down the road.

Of course, like so many other things in life, there’s more than one way up the mountain and you might not need a $300 hunk of plastic when a simple $35 remote would do the trick. 

To help you from overspending on the best universal remotes for you, we’ve put together a complete guide for the gadget – what you need to know, how much you should spend, and which models we really like. 

Even in this era of voice-activated speakers, the remote has a part to play, and the universal remote even more so: the only question is which one you should spend your hard-earned cash on? At the end of this you’ll understand how they can make your life that little bit easier. 

Best universal remotes FAQ: quick questions answered

Can universal remotes work on all TVs? Most of the time, yes. But it’ll depend on the make and model of your remote and your TV. On the whole, your universal remote should work with all TVs made in the past ten years or so. But it’s worth checking out the specific requirements of each before you buy one.

How do I set up a universal remote control? That depends on the make and model of your universal remote. But on the whole, you’ll need to ensure that your remote is fitted with the correct batteries and that you can point your remote at the TV, or other device, you’re trying to control. 

From there, there are a couple of different ways to search for and add new devices, there’s direct code entry, auto code search, brand code search and manual code search. It’ll all depend on which remote you have, so be sure to follow the set-up instructions that come with it. 

What are the best universal remotes? That depends on your budget. We think the One For All Essence (check it out below) is a good low cost option, but for the best of the best, take a look at Logitech’s Harmony devices. 

Are universal remotes worth it? There are two key scenarios where universal remotes are ideal: either you’ve lost your original remote and are looking at a pricey replacement, or you’re wanting to have fewer remote controls because your AV experience needs streamlining. If you fall into one of those two camps, then yes, they’re worth it.

Best universal remotes

What is a universal remote?

To put it simply, universal remotes are just remote controls – exactly like the ones that come with your TV – but these devices are able to imitate the signals sent by your TV’s original remote, AV receiver or other device.

If you’re wondering why you should buy one, there are two key scenarios where they’re ideal: either you’ve lost your original remote and are looking at a pricey replacement, or you’re wanting to have fewer remote controls because your AV experience needs streamlining.

The best universal remotes are the perfect answer in both cases, and almost every universal remote uses infrared (or IR): the same signal protocol used by remote manufacturers as well.

The best universal remotes: cheap vs expensive

If you’re wanting to save money when shopping for the best universal remote you’ll want something like the One For All Essence (which is only available in the UK by the way). These remotes work by utilizing a pattern of button presses to program the remote, selecting the right set of instructions for your hardware.

Manufacturers like Panasonic and Sony have only ever used a couple different patterns of instructions over the last decade or so for most of their TVs, and that means you can just cycle through them until you find the set of instructions that lets you operate the television you’re trying to use.

Best universal remotes

The low-cost One for All Essence can replace two remotes

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