best smart remotes 2019

11 Best Smart Remotes of 2021 [TV & Smart Home]

In Recommendations by Tim BrennanLeave a Comment

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Summary: In this post, I am proud to present my picks for the 11 very best smart remotes for your smart TV, home theater, and smart home devices.

What Are the Best Smart Remotes of 2021?

While about half of the best smart remotes on my updated list come from the undisputed king of remotes (Logitech), I also have some new picks this year from Caavo, Sevenhugs, Flipper, and even Amazon.  Here are my picks for the 11 best smart remotes you can buy today:

Quick Comparison Table: Best Smart Remotes

Here’s a table that shows my top five picks for the best smart remotes along with pricing so you can get a sense at a glance.

Logitech Harmony Hub for Control of 8 Home Entertainment Devices
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub and App
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home [Discontinued by Manufacturer]
Fire TV Cube | Hands-free streaming device with Alexa | 4K Ultra HD | 2019 release
UNIVERSAL REMOTE MX-990 Complete Control IR/RF Remote with Color LCD Screen, Black (MX990)
Updated SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote with OLED Display and Smartphone APP,
Logitech Harmony Hub for Control of 8 Home Entertainment Devices
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub and App
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home [Discontinued by Manufacturer]
Fire TV Cube | Hands-free streaming device with Alexa | 4K Ultra HD | 2019 release
UNIVERSAL REMOTE MX-990 Complete Control IR/RF Remote with Color LCD Screen, Black (MX990)
Updated SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote with OLED Display and Smartphone APP, All in One Universal Remote Control for up to 15 Entertainment Devices, Compatible with Smart TVs/DVD/STB/Projector so on
$91.00
$477.05
$369.00
$119.99
$371.99
$49.99
-
-
Logitech Harmony Hub for Control of 8 Home Entertainment Devices
Logitech Harmony Hub for Control of 8 Home Entertainment Devices
$91.00
-
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub and App
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub and App
$477.05
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home [Discontinued by Manufacturer]
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home [Discontinued by Manufacturer]
$369.00
-
Fire TV Cube | Hands-free streaming device with Alexa | 4K Ultra HD | 2019 release
Fire TV Cube | Hands-free streaming device with Alexa | 4K Ultra HD | 2019 release
$119.99
UNIVERSAL REMOTE MX-990 Complete Control IR/RF Remote with Color LCD Screen, Black (MX990)
UNIVERSAL REMOTE MX-990 Complete Control IR/RF Remote with Color LCD Screen, Black (MX990)
$371.99
Updated SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote with OLED Display and Smartphone APP,
Updated SofaBaton U1 Universal Remote with OLED Display and Smartphone APP, All in One Universal Remote Control for up to 15 Entertainment Devices, Compatible with Smart TVs/DVD/STB/Projector so on
$49.99

Last update on 11/08/2021 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I will go into each of the remotes in more detail below. In addition, I will provide a link off to detailed product reviews for each product if you want to learn more.


#1 – Logitech Harmony Elite

best smart remotes

The Harmony Elite is still our top pick for the best smart remote control today for four main reasons.

First, with its cool swipe-and-tap color LCD touchscreen, sleek design, and customizable buttons for most functions, the remote is as functional as it is good-looking.

Second, with Logitech’s ever-growing database of over 270,000 supported devices that include smart home as well as home theater equipment. Chances are if you own it, the Elite can control it.  Third, support for Alexa, Google Assistant, AND Apple Homekit means it provides the broadest support for smart speakers out of any remote we have tested.  When paired with Homebridge, you can control the Harmony Hub with the Home app for iOS and your voice.

Finally, Activities like “Watch TV,” “Date Night,” or “Good Morning” can be just plain magical. For example, you could set a Good Morning activity to Slowly dim on the lights, open smart blinds, turn up the heat using a smart thermostat, and tune your TV to your favorite morning news.

Check our all-time-favorite Harmony review of the Elite from TeQreation here:

Pros

  • WAY cool design with color LCD screen.
  • Broad device compatibility.
  • Broad smart speaker support.
  • Activities automatically automate tasks.
  • Can control devices in a closed cabinet and behind walls.

Cons

  • Customers complain that setup could be simpler, especially with the app.
  • Techies complain about lack of API to make changes programmatically [e.g., interfaces to add additional RF devices to program].

The Bottom Line

This is still the best remote that you can buy today. Bar none. You can read my full review of Logitech Harmony Elite here.


#2 – Harmony Ultimate One

The Harmony Ultimate remote as the predecessor to the Elite in and in most ways it has a similar design. Both include an LCD screen, both allow you to control up to 15 devices and both support infrared, Bluetooth, and radio frequency devices. The pair also certified for use with Alexa, and you can use voice control with Google Assistant and Apple Siri too.

Thanks to Linux Tech Tips for his thorough review of the Harmony Ultimate:

While the company has discontinued manufacturing this model of the remote, it is still available for purchase on Amazon. Logitech will also continue to support it, and there are extensive forums available online that you can leverage to solve just about any issue that comes up.  It used to be the Ultimate shipped without a hub, but this is no longer the case. The major differences between the Elite and Ultimate are as follows:

The good news is that it comes at a cheaper price. If you want to control smart devices as well as home entertainment devices, just make sure it ships with the Harmony Hub [which is required for smart home control].

Pros

  • Provides 90% of the same functionality as Elite.
  • Looks and behaves almost identical to the Elite.
  • Less expensive.

Cons

  • Display quality is not as nice as Elite.
  • The button placement is better on the Elite, making it easier to navigate.
  • Elite has additional physical buttons that are a fan favorite for smart home control.

Bottom Line

While not as nicely designed as the Harmony Elite, the Ultimate One comes very close in functionality for less money. If you want to read a more detailed comparison of the Harmony Elite versus the Ultimate, we recommend that you check out this post.


#3 – Caavo Control Center

Note: Caavo has been having supply chain issues since the pandemic and the product may not be back in stock.

As I recently covered in my Caavo Control Center review and separate comparison to Logitech Harmony, Caavo’s recent price cut makes this remote worth a look if you only need to control up to four devices.

The heart of this hard-wired USB remote is the Control Center, or hub, into which you plug in all of the devices you want to connect.

Thanks to our friends over at TWiT for the spirited debate about this remote.  You guys crack us up.

This remote shines in three main areas.

First, setting up devices in Caavo’s growing database is super simple. The unit auto detects many of these devices, then steps you through any steps required to configure it right on your TV screen. This is in stark contrast to Harmony’s set up which requires you to plug in the remote into a PC in order to set up your devices.

The second area where this remote shines is in its Search capability that lets you search across live TV as well as streaming media.  The search is unique in that it will search across all your services [Roku, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, AppleTV, etc.] and present you with a list of results from which you can choose.  This can help save you money. For example, Game of Thrones Season 1 is free to me as HBO subscriber, but I might be inclined to pay big money for it on Amazon if I wasn’t aware that HBO has it an option.

Finally, Caavo also offers curated content that includes ratings, reviews, and recommendations on what to watch. This can be great if like me you’ve already binged watched most of the popular shows out there.

It is important to note that there are some caveats with this remote. The biggest is the limitation of four devices. This might be enough for many consumers today, but could surely be limiting as the need to manage more and more devices grows. The company also requires an inexpensive subscription for access to full functionality.  Amazon offers packages including a pricing package with a lifetime membership, but it puzzles us as to why the company didn’t just build this in. Still, this is one of the best smart remotes that we have tested.

Pros

  • Set up for devices Caavo recognizes [most major brands] is simple and done using your TV screen.
  • Curated content lists help you find something to watch.
  • Search across streaming services can help save you time and money.

Cons

  • Four device max could limit expansion as more devices become available.
  • The subscription model could put off some potential customers.

Bottom Line

If you’re obsessed with binge-watching streaming media content and want to control a handful of devices without a lot of fuss, this remote is for you. You can read our brand new Caavo review here.


#4 – Logitech Harmony Hub

best smart remote controls

Next on my list of the best smart remotes for this year is the Logitech Harmony Hub. The Harmony Hub is the smart remote sans the remote!  Now, what in the heck does that mean, you ask?  Well, the Harmony Hub does not include a physical remote. Instead, you control your devices using your smartphone or tablet. With the prices of tablets at all-time lows, there are some really cool configurations you can create using the Hub and a smaller tablet.

The best thing about the Hub is that you get all of the features of other Harmony Hub-based products like the Elite and the Companion.  This includes one-touch Activities [Watch a Movie] as well as Alexa /Google for voice control. Unless you are joined at the hip with your phone, though, there are some drawbacks to not having a physical remote.  The main issue that is the app needs to be open in order for this to work. This extra step can be slighting annoying if you just want to do something simple like quickly turn down the TV volume.  However, if you setup the hub to work with your smart speaker for basic commands like volume control [i.e., Alexa, turn down the TV] this problem goes away.

At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference.  A friend of mine uses a single tablet to control both his TV and smart devices using the Harmony Hub. He loves it and calls me a dinosaur for using a physical remote [I have the Harmony Elite].  Anyhow, if you like the idea of using your phone to control your entertainment experience, the Hub is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • No physical remote means less clutter.
  • Control both smart home and home entertainment using your phone.
  • Nearly all of the same features you get with the Harmony Elite and other Hub-based remotes.
  • Supports activities like “Watch a Movie.”
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice control.

Cons

  • There is no physical remote.
  • Limited to control of eight devices.
  • Navigating TV buttons with just your phone takes getting used to.
  • No haptic feedback on the smartphone like you get with the Elite.
  • The app must be open to work.
  • Setup takes a bit of work; we recommend using the computer-based setup and NOT the mobile setup option.
  • Only supports up to 8 devices.

Bottom Line

If you are comfortable using your phone or tablet instead of a physical remote to control your TV and smart devices, the Hub is worth a look.  You can read my full review of Harmony Hub here.


#5 – Logitech Harmony 950

best smart remotes 2020

Coming in at number 5 on my list of best smart remotes for home theater and smart home is the Logitech Harmony 950. I am a bit surprised that Logitech still sells this remote separately from the Elite. My guess: it is likely they will discontinue sales soon. Why? Smarthome stuff is becoming more and more pervasive, and the 950 will not work out of the box to control your smart home devices.

So why is it even on our list? Well, it is nearly identical to our top pick the Harmony Elite remote in every other way. In fact, the remote itself is identical. You get the LCD screen that I love for control of your home entertainment.  You can read my detailed review of the 950 vs the Elite here. But I will summarize the pros and cons for you below just the same.

The bottom line is that if you want a Harmony remote that does not include the Hub to control smart home devices but does control your home entertainment experience, the 950 is worth a look. One scenario I have seen is customers who already have the Elite buy a 950 as a second remote. It will work with the Elite’s Harmony Hub and to in effect become a 2nd Elite.  Another scenario is customers who own and love the Elite might buy this to control a home theater room on a separate floor of their home.

Pros

  • One-touch activities will power on home entertainment devices to the desired settings.
  • The LCD touchscreen is the same as Elite – swipe, and tap with haptic feedback.
  • All buttons are backlit.
  • Works with Harmony’s database of 270,000 devices.

Cons

  • No Hub, which means no smart home control.
  • Doesn’t work with Alexa, Siri, or Google Voice.
  • Customers complain about issues with refurbished models [stay away].
  • Will not control smart home without a Hub.

Bottom Line

The 950 is the Elite without the Hub. It’s great for someone who doesn’t give a hoot about smart home stuff but wants the coolest remote money can buy. Oh, it makes a good second remote for someone who already owns the Elite [with a Hub].

Here is my full review of the Logitech Harmony 950.


 #6 – Logitech Harmony Companion

best smart remotes 2020

Logitech Harmony Companion is really just a less flashy version of the Harmony Elite. You reap most of the same benefits of the Elite with this remote too.  And it’s less expensive.  The biggest and most obvious difference is that it doesn’t include the LCD screen. Another difference is that you can only control up to eight devices [as opposed to 15 with the Elite]. There is also no charging station, although the replaceable coin cell battery almost makes this a plus.  Why?  The battery will last up to a year so you can eliminate the hassle of having to keep charging this remote. The batteries are pretty cheap to replace too.

The Companion comes with the Harmony Hub, which means that you get to control your smart home devices as well as home entertainment stuff.  Additionally, you get full support for Alexa and Google Home for hands-free voice control. All in all, this remote is a great value if you are looking for a budget option to control your smart home devices as well as your home theater setup. It also tops the list of best smart remotes of many industry pundits.

Pros

  • Many of the same benefits as Harmony Elite.
  • Less expensive than higher-end Harmony options.
  • Replaceable coin cell battery life lasts up to a year.
  • Can control smart home devices as well as home entertainment.
  • Supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control.
  • Supports automated activities i.e., “Watch a Movie” to dim lights and fire up TV, audio system, and switch to Netflix or your favorite streaming player/ service.

Cons

  • No cool LCD touchscreen.
  • Buttons aren’t backlit.
  • Smart home control buttons are limited in their scope.
  • Limited to control eight devices.

Bottom Line

This is the “poor man’s” Harmony Elite, but an all-around outstanding smart remote without the cool smart screen.

Read my full Harmony Companion Review here.


#7 – SevenHugs Smart Remotebest smart universal remotes 2019

 

Editor’s Note: Like Caavo, this company has also been having supply chain issues. The product may not be available at Amazon.

The SevenHugs Smart Remote won’t integrate with your digital assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.  It also has limited device support in comparison to Logitech Harmony [database of 30,000 compared to Harmony’s 270,000].

However, this remote does have a very special feature that makes it a worthy contender out of all the other universal remotes we tested.

After it is set up, it will automatically detect which device is in its crosshairs. Point the remote at your TV, and it will display the controls for your television. Point it at a smart light and it will display controls to dim the lights and change the color of the bulb if applicable. This innovative adaptive display is where the magic happens with this remote.  It makes controlling both smart home and home entertainment devices with a remote simpler than with any other remote we tested.

Thanks to Engadget for the usual helpful video review:

While the device database is limited, it will let you control major brands of:

      • TVs and Projectors
      • Media Players
      • Cable and Satellite Devices
      • A/V Devices
      • Game Consoles
      • Lights
      • Speakers
      • Thermostats

Battery life is short.  It will only last two days on a full charge, which makes us a little sad. On the plug side, it does display the weather by default on its elegant and simple LCD interface. It also has a lost and found button in the event that you misplace the remote.

Pros

  • Intelligently updates LCD controls for devices you are pointing at.
  • Supports custom scenes to perform multiple actions at once [i.e., Netflix and chill].
  • Lost and found button if you need to find the remote.
  • Displays weather and time by default which is kinda neat.

Cons

  • Battery life is super weak at only two days; this is the most common complaint from customers.
  • No support for smart speakers, which means no voice control.
  • Requires you to place room sensors [ideally on walls] of your home.
  • No native support for SmartTV apps.
  • It’s expensive.

The Bottom Line

This is a very innovative approach which makes it one of the best smart home remotes for control of both smart devices and home entertainment. The adaptive display brilliantly adapts to whatever you are pointing at.

You can read my full Sevenhugs vs Harmony review here.

#8 – Logitech Harmony 650

best smart universal remotes 2019

The Logitech Harmony 650 has for a long time been Amazon’s pick for Best Value universal remote control. The remote is classically styled although it does include a color screen displaying favorite channel icons. Customers who own this remote love it. It does not include a Harmony Hub, which means that it cannot control your smart home stuff, and it doesn’t work with smart speakers like Alexa and Google Voice. However, it does allow you to consolidate up to eight remotes at a very reasonable price.

Batteries and battery life are what you expect from a traditional remote control. Two AA batteries are required and Logitech recommends using Polaroid batteries for best results. Like the other remotes in the Harmony line, the remote will work with Logitech’s ever-growing database of devices [about 225,000 devices from 5,000 brands].  System Requirements for required computer based set up are Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, Mac OS X 10.6 or later. With Harmony’s guided online setup, you connect the remote to your computer input basic details about your equipment. The online software will then step you through the setup process.

Pros

  • Traditional ergonomic design feels good in the hand.
  • Excellent button layout and placement.
  • Easy to read color LCD screen.
  • Lights up by motion [e.g., raise to wake].
  • Supports custom sequences /macros for home entertainment devices.
  • Super affordable for a Logitech Harmony remote.

Cons

  • Limited to control of eight devices.
  • Requires an Internet-connected computer in order to program it.
  • Can’t send signals through walls [infrared only, so requires line of sight to devices].
  • Customers complain that it is difficult to add Favorites.
  • Unable to control Fire TV.

The Bottom Line

This is a good universal remote with a traditional design that adds a color LCD for Favorites.  It won’t be the talk of your next dinner party but functionally it works well.

Want to know more? Read my full review.


#9 – Amazon Fire TV Cube

best smart remotes

Bah! Who needs a remote control anyways? LOL. With Amazon Fire TV Cube, you can adjust the volume, change channels, check the weather, stream your favorite movies and shows all without lifting a finger. Literally!  How?  It lets you do everything with your voice using Alexa.

My thanks to Digital Trends for the unboxing and super thorough overview of the Amazon Fire TV Cube. I think this beats the Roku Ultra too.

A cross between Amazon Echo and Fire TV, this little cube is a must-buy for anyone who hates having to hunt for the remote between the couch pillow cushions.  I actually left my remote in my freezer once, but that is a story for another day. The Fire TV cube features a built-in Alexa speaker, far-field voice technology that hears you from any direction and from across the largest of rooms, Ethernet support, and TV and device control with the included Alexa voice remote. Amazon customers rave about this product.

Pros

  • Control your TV with your voice using Alexa.
  • Alexa is built-in, there is no other Echo device required.
  • Can check the weather listen to news even with the TV off.
  • Can be used as a substitute for Echo to control smart home devices.
  • Fire TV gives you access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes many of which are free through Amazon Prime.

Cons

  • Still a few design quirks such as audio problems that may require you to reboot the device.
  • Customers say that ads displayed on the Home screen can sometimes be obtrusive.

Bottom Line

I think this is the future of TV and device control. Ten years from now remotes as we know them will probably be obsolete. You can check out my Fire TV Cube review here.


#10 – Big Button Flipper Remote

flipper smart remote controls

The Flipper Remote won’t control your smart home stuff and it is limited to just two devices. But that’s not the point.  The point of the Flipper remote is to be simple, simple, simple. Its limited features and large buttons make this an ideal remote for the elderly.  It generally solves a single problem, that is it helps you avoid the dreaded phone call from parental /grandparental units that say they “lost Jeopardy on the TV” and can’t get it back.

Pros

  • Simple design that hides buttons seniors don’t need to see.
  • Five buttons total on the front.
  • Provides a single simple remote for cable and TV.
  • Super inexpensive.
  • Easy setup.

Cons

  • Limited to two devices.
  • No support for Favorites.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a simple remote for mama, papa, grandma, or grandpa, this remote provides a simple solution. Read my full Flipper review here or check out this full review I wrote on the best remotes for the elderly.

best smart remote 2019


#11 – Logitech Harmony Smart Control

best smart remote controls

In many ways, the Smart Control is very similar to the Logitech Harmony Companion. In fact, it is nearly identical to the Companion in every way from a functionality perspective. It will also control up to eight devices, including smart home stuff and Alexa. The main difference is the design. The Smart Control comes with a smaller, lighter remote that is liked by some customers. However, other customers complain the buttons are too small.

Thanks Tech with Brett for the helpful review:

Pros

  • You can control up to eight devices using the remote or smartphone.
  • Included Harmony Hub means you can control smart home stuff as well as home entertainment equipment.
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
  • Supports activities like “Watch a movie.”
  • The smaller, svelte shape of the remote  feels good in the hand.
  • No line of sight is required for components [unlike the 650].
  • Inexpensive.

Cons

  • Customers complain that the buttons on this remote are too small.
  • No LCD screen.
  • Limited functions on the physical remote.
  • The smartphone app is very difficult to use for setup; we recommend PC-based setup instead.

Bottom Line

If you believe smaller is better when it comes to remote control, you might like this better than the bulkier Harmony Companion.

Check out my full review comparing the two here.


Best Smart Remotes: What Do You Think?

I hope you enjoyed my review of the best smart remotes for Smart TV, smart home, and home theater.

So which do you think are the best smart remotes? Do you agree with my picks?  Perhaps there is a product you like better than didn’t make my list?

Do you plan on buying a universal remote to control your home entertainment?  How about a remote for your smart home devices?

Would you leave me a comment and let me know?

Also, if you liked my review, would you mind sharing it using any of the social media buttons on this page?


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best smart remotes 2019

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