Logitech Harmony Companion The Logitech Harmony Companion is our pick for the best universal remote. ($139 at Amazon.)

Universal remote controls use to suck. No two ways about it. Back in the days before smartphones and everything being connected to everything else, universal remotes were pretty dumb. You'd enter a code and cope it worked well enough.

Well enough. But certainly not good.

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Things are different today, though. Not only do we have universal remote controls that work as close to perfect as you could hope for, they look damn good doing it.

And speaking of "universal," there's a near-unanimous choice when it comes to universal remotes. When we want a single controller to do all the things, we turn to Logitech and its Harmony line. (And the "Hub" that goes with them, allowing the remotes to connect to the internet not just for setup, but also to control other smart devices in your home.)

You can spend a lot of money on the top-end Harmony remote. Or you can spend ... not quite a lot of money. It's your call, of course I've been using Logitech remotes for a number of years now, and here's where I'd start.

The Best: Logitech Harmony Companion ($149)

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I'm not kidding when I say this is the best-designed piece of tech in my home. I'd kill for this to be a phone. It's gorgeous, with curves that go on for days, and a skin that you won't want to take your hand off of.

It's functional, too, with a full numeric keypad, and all of the other directional and shortcut controls you'd expect. Plus it's got dedicated buttons for smart lights and plugs — and that's a feature you'll wonder how you lived without. (The ability to turn off lights without getting out of bed is awesome.) It's powered by one of those quarter-sized batteries, which come to think of it I've yet to replace after a couple years of use.

The included Harmony Hub lets the remote talk to the internet, and remember that you also can use the Harmony app on your phone to control things, if that's how you roll.

Harmony Elite ($299)

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This, admittedly, is a lot of remote control. It's exorbitant. It trades the number buttons — which aren't the sort of thing you'll ever use once you've gotten rid of your cable box — for a full touchscreen, which adapts to the activities (and devices) you've programmed.

It's a good bit bigger than the Harmony Companion, and definitely not as comfortable in the hand. And it comes with a charging base that presents the remote quite nicely — this is the sort of thing you'll leave out where people can see it.

It's also got dedicated buttons for lights and outlets, and the touchscreen lets you control other devices, like Sonos and a Nest Thermostat.

Harmony Smart Control ($69)

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If nothing else, spring for this. You get the Hub, so it'll work with your phone and aid setup and all that.

And you also get a basic remote control. It's not quite as nice as the Harmony Companion, and it's lacking the buttons for lights and outlets. But it'll still tie your TV and any set-top boxes together — and probably do it with a nicer remote than what came with the box itself.

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