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In this article, I examine nine of the best smart home remotes of 2020, five of which even work with Amazon Alexa. They will all give you control over your smart devices as well as your smart TV and home theater equipment.
So what are the best remotes for your controlling your smart devices as well as home theater? Here are my picks for the nine best smart home remotes you can get this year:
- #1 Logitech Harmony Elite
- #2 Harmony Ultimate One
- #3 Caavo Control Center
- #4 Logitech Harmony Hub
- #5 Harmony 950
- #6 Logitech Harmony Companion
- #7 SevenHugs Smart Remote
- #8 Amazon Fire TV Cube
- #9 Harmony Smart Control
You can click on any remote in the list above to see a mini-review as well as the pros and cons of each.
Couch Potatoes Delight
One way you can take complete control over your entertainment experience is with a smart TV remote.
I’ve reviewed dozens of remotes over the past two hears for this site as well as over at UniversalRemoteReviews.com. One of the coolest new trends in remotes is the ability to integrate your smart home tech with your entertainment experience.
Oh, and some of these new gadgets will let you control the whole thing with your voice.
But how do you orchestrate the whole thing in an intelligent way that won’t break the bank?
The answer is a smart home remote.
With all of the benefits of these devices, it’s no wonder that a recent study conducted by market research firm Statistica, cited demand for control and connectivity devices is projected to grow from 24.4% in 2020 to 45.8% in 2023.
My Recommendations: Best Smart Home Remotes
The following table shows my picks for best smart home remotes along with pricing on Amazon. While about half of the remotes come from the undisputed king of remotes Logitech, I also have some neat picks from Caavo, Sevenhugs, and Amazon Fire TV Cube.
Each of the remotes is covered in more detail below. In addition, I’ll provide links off to detailed product reviews where available. But first, I’ll see if I can’t help you decide if you want a smart remote at all.
What is a Smart Home Remote?
In short, smart home remotes give you more control over your smart home devices as well as the devices in your entertainment center. They can offer some unique benefits for controlling Wi-Fi, Infrared, and even Bluetooth devices.
- Ability to consolidate several remotes down to one
- Wirelessly control your home theater AND smart devices with a single remote
- Unique “scenes” or “recipes” like “Watch a Movie” can be created to automatically fire up all required home theater components (TV, audio receiver, soundbar, streaming media player or DVR), dim smart lights, and even lower smart blinds and change the room temperature.
- Many of these have companion apps that let you control your devices using your smartphone or tablet.
Are Universal Remotes Worth It?
So do you really need a smart home remote? The answer is it depends. While you can certainly get by without one, a smart home remote will give you added convenience in controlling all of your home theater and smart devices from a single remote. As an added bonus, you can also use these to control smart locks, smart plugs, and more.
Plus, if you pair a smart remote with Alexa or Google Assistant, you get some really cool hands free control over your TV and more.
Automate Your Life has a helpful configuration and set up video series for using a Logitech Harmony Hub with Alexa. Note: You may want to mute your Alexa device before you watch.
1Logitech Harmony Elite
The Harmony Elite is my top pick for the best smart remote control that works with Alexa for three 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.
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 out our all-time-favorite Harmony review of the Elite from TeQreation here:
- WAY cool design with color LCD screen
- Broad device compatibility
- Broad smart speaker support
- Activities automatically automate tasks
- Can control devices in closed cabinets and behind walls
- Customers complain that setup could be simpler, especially with the app
- Techies complain about the lack of an API to make changes programmatically [e.g., interfaces to add additional RF devices to program].
This is the best remote that you can buy today. Bar none. You can read my full review of Logitech Harmony Elite here.
2Harmony 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 Voice and Apple Siri too.
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 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].
Thanks to Linus Tech Tips for the helpful video review:
- It provides 90% of the same functionality as the Harmony Elite.
- The Ultimate One looks and behaves almost identical to the Elite.
- It’s less expensive
- Display quality is not as nice as the Harmony Elite.
- The button placement is better on the Elite, making it easier to navigate.
- The Elite has additional physical buttons that are a fan favorite for smart home control.
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.
3Caavo Control Center
As I recently wrote about in my Caavo Control Center review and comparison to Logitech Harmony, Caavo’s recent price cut makes this remote worth a look if you only want to control fewer than five devices. The heart of this hired wired USB remote is the Control Center, or hub, into which you plug in all of the devices you want to connect.
This remote shines in three main areas. First, set up for the devices in Caavo’s growing data is super simple. The unit recognizes the device then steps you through any steps required to configure it right on your TV screen. 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 will let you search across all your services [Roku, HBO, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, etc.] and present with a list of results from which you can choose. 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.
Thanks to my friends over at TWiT for the spirited debate about this remote. You guys crack me up.
- Set up for devices Caavo recognizes [most major brands] is simple and done using your TV screen.
- Awesome search capability for streaming media.
- Curated recommendations are actually good and helpful.
- Four device max could limit expansion as more devices become available.
- Requires 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 I have tested.
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 full Caavo review here.
4Logitech Harmony Hub
The Logitech Harmony Hub is one of the best smart home remotes out there, sans the remote! Yes, 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 set up 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.
- No physical remote means less clutter on your coffee table.
- You can control both smart home and home entertainment using your phone.
- You get 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.
- There is no physical remote. Yes, we see this as both a pro and a con…what of it?! 😉
- Limited to control eight devices.
- Navigating your TV with your phone takes some getting used to.
- There is no haptic feedback on the smartphone like you get with the Elite.
- The app must be open in order for it to work.
- Setup takes a bit of work; we recommend using the computer-based setup and NOT the mobile setup option.
- It only supports up to eight devices.
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 review see my full review of Harmony Hub here.
5Logitech Harmony 950
Coming in at number 5 on our list of best smart remotes with Alexa is the Logitech Harmony 950. I am a bit surprised that Logitech still sells this remote separately from the Elite. 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 this on the list? Well, it is nearly identical to the Harmony Elite remote in every other way. The remote itself is identical.
The Verdict 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 in effect become a second 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.
- 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 of the buttons are backlit.
- Works with Harmony’s database of 270,000 devices [and growing].
- No Hub, which means no smart home control unless Hub is purchased separately.
- It doesn’t work with Alexa, Siri, or Google Voice without the Hub.
- Customers complain about issues with refurbished models [stay away].
The 950 is the Elite without the Hub. This means it probably doesn’t belong on our list of “best smart home remotes.” However, it’s a great option 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].
You can read my full review of the Logitech Harmony 950 here.
6Logitech Harmony Companion
Logitech Harmony Companion is really a stripped-down 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 8 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.
- 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.
- Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice control.
- Supports automated activities i.e., “Watch a Movie” dims lights and fires up TV, audio system, and switches to Netflix.
- No cool LCD touchscreen.
- Buttons aren’t backlit.
- Smart home control buttons are limited in their scope.
- Limited to control of eight devices.
This is the poor man’s Harmony Elite, an all-around outstanding smart remote without the cool smart screen. Read our full Harmony Companion Review here.
7SevenHugs Smart Remote
The SevenHugs Smart Remote won’t integrate with your digital assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home [yet]. 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:
- Intelligently updates LCD controls for devices you are pointing at.
- Supports custom scenes to perform multiple actions at once [i.e., Netflix and chill].
- Includes a lost and found button that you can press to make the remote beep if you misplace it.
- Displays weather and time by default which is kinda neat.
- 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.
- Not available for purchase on Amazon.com; you can see it at Best Buy here.
- Requires you to place room sensors [ideally on walls] of your home.
- No native support for SmartTV apps.
- It’s expensive.
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 our full Sevenhugs vs Logitech Harmony review here.
8Amazon Fire TV Cube
So who needs a remote control anyways? 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.
A cross between Amazon Echo and FireTV, the 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 FireTV 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.
Our thanks to Digital Trends for the unboxing and super thorough overview of the Amazon Fire TV Cube. We think this beats the Roku Ultra too, especially the new version.
- Control your TV with your voice
- Can check the weather listen to the news even with the TV off
- Can be used as a substitute for the Echo to control smart home devices
- FireTV gives you access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes many of which are free through Amazon Prime
- Doesn’t include an HDMI cable, so you need to purchase one separately
- Still some design quirks such as audio problems that may require you to reboot the device
- Customers complain that ads displayed on the Home screen can be obtrusive
We think this is the future of TV and device control. Ten years from now remotes as we know them will probably be obsolete. Check out my review comparing the new vs the old version of the Fire TV Cube here.
9Logitech Harmony Smart Control
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. You can read our full comparison of Harmony Companion vs Smart Control here.
Thanks Tech with Brett for the helpful review:
- You can control up to eight devices using 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 required for components [unlike the 650].
- 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 the PC-based setup instead.
If you believe smaller is better when it comes to remote control, you might like this better than the bulkier Harmony Companion. Check my full review comparing the two over at UniversalRemoteReviews.com.
9 Best Smart Home Remotes with Alexa: What Do You Think?
I hope you enjoyed my review of the best smart home remotes – five of which even work with Alexa [and a few with Google Home].
So what do YOU think about these sweet smart remote controls? Do you agree with my picks? Perhaps there is a product you like better than didn’t make our list?
Something tells me it doesn’t look anything like this 😂.
Do you plan on buying a smart home remote to control your home entertainment? How about a remote for your smart home devices?
Would you leave us a comment below and let me know? It would be great to hear from you.
Also, if you liked this review, would you mind sharing it using any of the social media buttons on this page? It really helps us out a lot. Thank you. 🙂
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If you enjoyed reading this article about the best smart home remotes, you might also like some of our other articles. We’ll list a few of them here.
About the Author
Tim Brennan, Technical Writer & Blogger
Tim Brennan [a.k.a. "Tec Timmy"] is a senior technical writer with over 20 years of experience writing for companies and organizations in and around Greater Boston, including GE and MIT. In addition to actively writing for this smart home blog, Tim is also a regular contributor over at UniversalRemoteReviews.com. Tim holds a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University. Brennan is a father to two sons, an active blogger, a Star Wars nut, and loves a good taco🌮. There is a strong chance he is developing a crush on Amazon Alexa. You can learn more about Tim here.