The best smart remote

TV & Video

Some smart remotes are powered by a rechargeable battery using a USB port to charge. Others use standard AA or AAA batteries.

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WHICH SMART REMOTES ARE BEST?

It seems like almost every device in your home has a “smart” tag attached to it these days. Smart TVs, smart thermostats, and smartphones are just the start.

To help you control all of those smart devices, you will want to invest in a smart remote. It provides universal remote functions, meaning you can replace multiple remotes with one unit.

With the smart remote, you may be able to control specific functions on the smart device that a simple remote cannot control. Our favorite smart remote is the versatile Inteset INT-422 Four-in-One Universal Learning Remote.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY A SMART REMOTE

Two primary designs of smart remotes are available:

Button smart remote

A smart remote that only has buttons is easier to use for many people. These usually have designs similar to other remote controls in your home, but they are larger in size to accommodate all of the buttons.

The button remote is not quite as intuitive as the touchscreen remote.

Having backlighting for the buttons is helpful with this type of remote, so you can see the buttons in the dark.

A button-based remote is less expensive than a touchscreen remote, but it also offers fewer features.

Touchscreen smart remote

With a small touchscreen embedded into the remote, you’ll see messages and commands on the screen of the remote. These messages make these models easy to use and create a two-way communication between the remote and your devices.

Some touchscreen smart remotes only have a touchscreen (like a smartphone), while others have both buttons and a screen.

Connection method

A smart remote can use a variety of methods to connect to the devices it will be controlling. Some remotes use only one means of connection, while others can use multiple connection options. Make sure the smart remote you select matches your needs.

  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth is a personal wireless network, sending signals over a short distance. This isn’t the most efficient means of connecting to devices with a smart remote because you have to be fairly close. A remote using Bluetooth often will require hub hardware that connects to WiFi.
  • Infrared: Infrared, often shortened to IR, has been the most common technology used in remote controls for decades. Infrared uses line of sight to send signals from the remote to the TV or DVD player.
  • Radio frequency: Radio frequency, often shortened to RF, is another remote control technology. It does not require line of sight, but it can be subject to interference from other devices.
  • WiFi: If a smart remote works over WiFi, it makes a connection to your home network, sending signals to devices through the WiFi. Using WiFi does not require line of sight to the device. Often times, a WiFi smart remote will include a piece of hub hardware. This allows the smart remote to maintain a strong connection with the WiFi network, no matter where you’re using it. WiFi is a common choice for a smart remote connection. Using WiFi allows the remote to control a variety of smart devices in your home, even those that aren’t in the same room as you are.

HOW MUCH YOU CAN EXPECT TO SPEND ON A SMART REMOTE

A basic smart remote that has only control buttons and no touchscreen will cost $10-$100. Those with touchscreens can cost anywhere from $100-$250.

SMART REMOTES FAQ

Q. How do I set up a smart remote?

A. Some smart remotes automatically make connections with devices. Others must be programmed manually using codes that are specific to brands and models of devices.

Q. Will the smart remote control all of my devices?

A. Smart remotes often work with thousands of different devices. They can work with items like TVs, Blu-ray players, DVD players, set-top boxes, and streaming media devices, among others. Compatibility depends on what type of signal your devices can receive.

WHAT SMART REMOTE IS BEST TO BUY?

Top smart remote

Intesets INT-422 Four-in-One Universal Learning Remote

Inteset’s INT-422 Four-in-One Universal Learning Remote

Our take: Has everything you could want in a smart remote, including multi-device compatibility and a reasonable price.

What we like: This unit feels very comfortable in the hand, and the buttons are nicely sized. Includes backlighting on the buttons.

What we dislike: Programming the remote to work with your devices can be a tricky process.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top smart remote for the money

GEs Universal Remote Control Four-Device

GE’s Universal Remote Control, Four-Device

Our take: Even with an extremely low price, this smart remote is able to link up with thousands of devices.

What we like: Has large buttons, so you can see exactly which one you’re pressing. Easier to set up than some other models.

What we dislike: Doesn’t fit the contour of your hand as well as some models.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

Favormates Air Remote Mouse MX3 Pro

Favormates’ Air Remote Mouse MX3 Pro

Our take: Has a brighter backlight than some other remotes, so you can easily see the buttons in the dark.

What we like: Automatically connects to many devices from common brands so you won’t have to do as much programming on your own.

What we dislike: The air mouse cursor sometimes bounces excessively on the screen, and it often requires recalibration.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

 

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Kyle Schurman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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