Top 5 universal remotes for under $50

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My parents own a remote caddy, you know, the little box to hold all of the remote controls that control the various living room gadgets that make up their home theater system. But before deciding to put out the 25 some odd for the caddy, doubling the money may have got them a better option: a uiversal remote control.
Check out the top 5 universal remotes below that come in at around $50 or less.

They will, with little effort, let you widdle the remote control count down to just one whilst still allowing you to control the majority, if not all, of the features of the devices connected to the home theater.

Logitech Harmony 300
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This remote is solid and boasts some very good ergonimics. i.e. it holds well. For those new to tech and universal remote setups, the highly intuitive wizard-style setup software that ships with the device makes it a piece of cake to get everything going.
The thing that many people dislike about it is that it only allows the control of just 4 devices but does have a component compatibility range of over 225,000 devices (the database is constantly being updated and lives in the cloud). Plus, it requires an Internet connected computer for configuration and setup.

URC MasterControl RF20
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Many people like the Harmony remotes more than they do the URC line, but for around the same price as the Harmony 300, the URC MasterControl RF20 Universal Learning Remote can control up to 10 devices. That is 6 more than the Harmony 300.

This remote, as most universal's do, provides "MacroPower" (or similar) access giving the ability to power on or off all devices at one time. Plus, with the "SimpleSound" feature it allows for volume control of all devices at one time.
A DVD guide is included with the product making setup and configuration very simple. It boasts barrier-free RF capability, has a customizable LCD screen and it is a learning remote (which gives it the power to 'learn' from other remote controls).

Philips Prestigo SRU8010
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This Universal boasts a colorful screen and very nice design overall. It also has a feature for child restrictions which isn't a commonly found option on remotes. Sadly though, it doesn't have a battery status indicator which should be considered basic compared to all of its advanced features.

With this remote two users can have their own channel configuration, often called a "his and her" setup. Like the URC MasterControl RF20 this is a 10-device remote. Macros can be created allowing one touch control for multiple functions. It has learning capabilities to gather 'knowledge' from other remotes through infrared.
What some might consider a design flaw, the non backlit main buttons are not sculpted requiring one to glance down to know what they are pressing. This can be highly inconvenient, especially when watching at night or in the dark, until the keys are memorized.
Many find it difficult to use overall.

GE 24968 5-Device
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This simple remote is great for use with TVs, DVRs, Blu-Rays, DVDs, and satellites. It will provide direct channel access for digital and analog TVs. It is compatible with about 325 of the top used home theater components.
It has a "find it" feature that allows you to locate the remote from about 25 feet away, plus an automatic sleep timer.

Soft universal remote control

While this isn't technically a universal remote control, it can offer the same capabilites. Many devices, the newer ones at least, offer some sort of downloadable app to remotely control their functionality.
Sure, there would most likely be an app for each gadget attached to the home theater system, but there is only one device needed, wheter it be a smart phone, tablet, or other handheld based on the Android or iOS (or perhaps other) platform.

Remote is an example of an app by Apple that allows control of an Apple TV and iTune's library from an iOS compatible device. Gmote is an Android app that will control a PC, and if the PC is the source of the TV and stereo content, that could very well work as a virutal unversal remote control.
Check with the provider of your home theater components though, especially if purchased in the latter part of 2012 or 2013, they may have a remote control app specific for your device.
 

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