August 18, 2023
Whether it be Savant, URC, Logitech, or many others…there’s an option for every Smart Home setup. The good news for those of us considering upgrading our home theater to the top brands of 2023 is that when it comes to remotes, there’s a fantastic variety of universal remote solutions available. These options are here to simplify your experience and make handling multiple remote controls a breeze. Check out some of the best upgrade options available to help elevate your smart home experience in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2023 from our team.
Ever try to turn down the volume and find that the remote that controls the volume is probably somewhere under the couch that you sold ten years ago in a house you sold five years ago? We can all relate. Universal remotes are a beautiful solution for this. Companies such as URC and Logitech create models that work with all forms of home automation, and can decrease your remote control clutter by more than half. Companies such as Savant which focus on whole home integration also have beautiful remote controls for when walking to the wall panel is too far of a trek. Long gone are the days of needing to buy a remote basket, as you can now buy top brands like the Apple TV Remote, or Roku stick that will do the same thing in the simplest way possible.
Imagine a tidier coffee table — that’s where the best universal remotes come in. Instead of juggling different remotes to switch on your TV, soundbar, and streaming stick separately, a universal remote gives you the power to manage everything from just one device.
And here’s the exciting part: the top-tier universal remotes go beyond the basics. With a single press of a button, they can automate various tasks, like activating all your components and getting them perfectly set up. Some even come with smart home controls and voice search, allowing you to find shows, movies, and more across different streaming services.
However, when it comes to the best universal remotes, the options aren’t exactly “universal.” In recent years, Logitech, which was known for crafting top-notch universal remotes, decided to discontinue their product line. This means there are fewer choices available now, but fear not — you still have some excellent options to consider.
Let’s start with URC. They’re a more affordable option for universal remotes, but they feature a few models with different size LCD displays on them. This is a wonderful addition when it comes to attempting to use your remote and not knowing where any of the buttons are. The standard model when it comes to recommendations from places such as Regent5 is the URC-MX-890 model. It’s quite affordable only costing you $299 on Newegg. This remote comes with a 2 inch LCD and can work through walls, making it very versatile and efficient with multiple rooms in your home. However, it doesn’t work through WiFi like the other models, and if you have more than one remote type in your home, the signals can clash with the WiFi enabled remotes. The MX-890 can control multiple TV’s, music systems, and has many other features which make it a wonderful addition to your home. The base station is capable of rapid charging as well, and doesn’t take up much space on your table top. Unfortunately, the MX-890 can be a bit cumbersome when it comes to adding and removing features, which can get costly having a technician come to your home often. The remote also has a LOT of buttons. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing. In my opinion, it’s also not the most attractive model on our comparison. If this one isn’t for you, or you’re not quite the most tech savvy person, there’s thankfully plenty of other options.
The Logitech Harmony Elite is by far the most beautiful universal solution. But is it the best for your buck? This remote comes in at a much higher price than the URC model, costing around $300-$350 depending on which retailer and model you want. Fortunately it’s much more intuitive than those URC models. This remote can link to your phone or tablet and give you complete access over whole home control. It’s possible to control your entire home theater system linked through this remote, without even using the remote itself. The battery life isn’t nearly as good as the URC model, so get ready to put it on the base station every day or so. There’s also a few other Logitech products that do basically the same thing as this remote, such as the Harmony Home Control for only $104. Depends on how much you want a smart remote versus the other options that Logitech has available. Despite the price of this Logitech remote being quite high, there’s still another option that more than doubles that price. But is it worth the price tag?
Moving down the line of do-it-all remotes, the Savant Pro Remote is a bit different than the first two. Working with the Savant smart home integration suite, you’d need more than just the remote to get your home working with this one. Fortunately, the Savant system is beautiful and works flawlessly with every place you have it installed. The companion Lutron wall plates are beautiful, the remotes are beautiful, everything is just beautiful. There’s a catch with Savant (of course) and this comes in the price you pay for it. The Savant system can be incredibly expensive, with just the remote itself costing around $800 for the multi-room version. This price tag can definitely make people think twice before considering taking the Savant route with their remote consolidation. Pretty in this case, comes with a high price. Most Savant customers generally already have a system which integrates with their remotes and home automation, using Lutron keypads to supplement their equipment. It’s up to you to decide if a simple and elegant system is worth integrating a higher price. We’d like to consider Savant to be the luxury item in this article.
Now that there’s a few options on your plate, hopefully the easy part is done and now the difficult task will be choosing which brand to go with. Each brand has its pluses and minuses so it’s up to you to decide which one sounds best for your home. The difficult part now lies in which solution to come up with to de-clutter your home. Fortunately, beyond even these remotes I’ve mentioned here, there’s plenty of other universal options from many brands, with more appearing every day. Ask your local retailers about which options they’d recommend when choosing your new do-it-all remote.
Even without the touchscreen, the Harmony Companion’s extensive compatibility and well-thought-out design make its relatively higher price justifiable. You can also consider purchasing it in a renewed condition from Amazon or opt for used or refurbished models on eBay.
Reason for Selection: The Harmony Elite stands out with its broad range of device support, a responsive capacitive touchscreen, and the convenience of one-touch actions.
Despite its discontinuation in 2021, the Logitech Harmony Elite remains the finest universal remote we’ve tested. Its compatibility spans over 270,000 entertainment and smart home devices, and it offers the flexibility of creating personalized one-touch macros. The inclusion of a compact capacitive touchscreen streamlines navigation through a potentially overwhelming array of devices. Although Logitech has ceased producing Harmony remotes, the company continues to provide updates, ensuring their continued functionality.
However, acquiring a Harmony Elite at a reasonable price can be a hurdle. It was initially priced at $349, and with a dwindling supply, the cost has only escalated. Even pre-owned models can demand nearly $400 or more. Nevertheless, if you’re on the hunt for a versatile and feature-rich universal remote, the Harmony Elite remains unrivaled.
The Apple TV Siri Remote has finally nailed what it means to be an Apple TV remote that just feels right.
Why it stands out: The Apple TV Siri Remote boasts a smarter design, a precise directional pad, and a touch-sensitive jogwheel, making navigation a breeze.
Dimensions: 6.93 x 2.62 x 1.04 inches Weight: 0.28 pounds Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Battery Life: Approximately two months
Featuring a sleek aluminum build and an accurate directional pad, the Apple TV Siri Remote is the ultimate choice for enhancing your experience with the company’s top-of-the-line set-top box. This 3rd-generation remote incorporates a mute button and an instinctive directional pad accompanied by a touch-sensitive “jogwheel,” reminiscent of the classic iPod feel. Naturally, you can harness the power of the Apple TV Siri Remote to manage fundamental TV functions like power and volume at the system level. For individuals with uncomplicated setups, this covers all the bases of “universal control.” Plus, the 3rd-gen remote charges via user-friendly USB-C instead of the Lightning connector, which many will find quite appealing.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube brings the magic of voice control to your TV-watching experience.
Why it’s a standout: The Amazon Fire TV Cube gives you the power to manage your entire setup without lifting a finger to touch your remote.
Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 0.62 inches Weight: 0.09 pounds (excluding batteries) Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Battery Life: Not specified (uses two AAA batteries)
You might find it a little surprising to spot the Amazon Fire TV Cube on a list of top universal remotes, considering it’s more of a… well, cube. But let’s dive into it. The Fire Cube is deceptively robust. This streaming device works its magic by allowing you to dictate commands to your TV and any other Alexa-friendly smart gadgets in your living space, all with the help of a compact remote.
Beyond the Alexa feature, the Fire Cube’s remote, which you’ll also encounter with many newer Amazon Fire streaming devices, sticks to the basics. However, once you get the hang of directing things with your voice, you’ll find yourself caring less about the buttons anyway.
Regent5 brings your dream smart home to life through comprehensive planning, professional installation, and seamless integration of cutting-edge technology. From smart home theatre and climate control systems to advanced security features and user-friendly home automation, Regent5 ensures that your smart home is not only luxurious but also sustainable and future-proof. Get in touch with us today and we can add the best in smart home technology to your Burlingame, San Mateo, San Jose, Carmel-By-The-Sea and many other San Francisco Bay Area cities.