Best universal remote of 2020

From Harmony to Caavo to, well, other Harmonys, these are our favorite clickers, hubs and screens for controlling a cabinet full of

Curated via Twitter from CNET News’s twitter account….

Logitech Harmony wrote the book on the universal remote control devices and these are the most basic clickers I can recommend for a smart home.

Press the "Watch TV" to use as a TV remote or "Listen to Music" buttons and the Harmony remote controller turns on all the relevant devices (such as your smart TV, blu-ray player, and AV receiver), switches to the right inputs and maps the keys to that activity: Volume to the receiver and Channel up-down to the box, for example.

Like the hub-based Harmonys below, Caavo doesn’t require line of sight (the switch acts as the hub) and the remote control will also work with a voice command from Alexa and Google Home speakers in homes with multiple devices.

Unlike Harmony, Caavo Control Center includes an HDMI switch in addition to the smart remote.

The main appeal over a cheaper, non-Harmony-based smart remote controller, or the device that comes with your set-top boxes, is the activity-based control.

Unlike more expensive Harmonys, which use a universal remote control app on your phone for setup and control, you’ll have to use Harmony’s Mac- or PC-based software to program the remote (needless to say, a remote app is more convenient).

This Harmony smart control is a great system if you prefer the Harmony app, but for most people, investing in a real smart device (maybe one with a smartphone app) is worth the extra few bucks.

If you’ve got a serious home-theater system — or even a semiserious one with three or more components — a universal remote control is an amazing device to own.

The main draw of the Elite remote control over the Harmony Companion is its screen and for most users it’s just not worth it.

The Harmony Companion doesn’t just handle your entertainment devices, the smart remote can also communicate with some home automation devices such as Philips Hue lights.

My family uses the system as much as I do and my main criteria in a smart universal remote or universal remote app is making it simple enough for a kid to operate, even with all those buttons.

The wacky Cube is a mashup of universal remote controls, theĀ Fire TV 4K streamer and Amazon Echo speaker, making it the king of your smart home devices.

The Hub is the only remote control device on this list that doesn’t actually include an actual physical remoteĀ device or buttons.

The universal remote control device itself is simple and elegant and the remote finder is gold.

The 665 is the only smart remote currently listed on Harmony’s site but the 650 is identical (aside from color and number of devices each can control) and can often be found for less, especially refurbished.

The touch screen makes this remote control more versatile than cheaper models with buttons, especially for calling up favorite channels or the Roku app, plus the full backlighting is great.

My family and I have used many of the smart remotes on this list as control devices for my main home-theater system for months or years at a time.

In my years of using the Harmony Companion at home, the main things I missed are backlighting behind the buttons and a remote finder.

Caavo has its own smart voice control system and onscreen display to help you find stuff to watch on your streaming devices.

Caavo’s Control Center is one of two non-Harmony smart remotes on this list and is also the second-cheapest device at $59, but there’s a catch.

My pick for the best universal remote for the money is the Harmony Companion, a real remote tied to a Harmony Hub.

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