Are you the kind of person who has four devices hooked up to your flat screen TV and five remote controls to make everything work? If so, have I got some good news for you! There is an invention called the universal remote control; no, this is nothing new, they have been around for a long time, but several companies have managed to perfect this type of device.

A friend of mine recently decided to simplify and declutter her media room; she went to a local retailer and purchased a Logitech Harmony Remote 650. Setup is simple and done online after writing down the model numbers of each of your devices. The Harmony 650 can operate everything individually, and even better the software walks you through setting up activities such as watching a movie or watching TV or listening to music. When an activity button is pressed, the remote sends signals to each of the devices the activity uses turning things on or off or switching inputs or whatever else is necessary to perform the preselected task. It is even possible to custom program buttons to control lights or fans or other household items that have IR receivers.

The Logitech Harmony 650 also has backlit buttons, as do many of the other universal remote controls on the market, that make watching TV and movies in a darkened room much easier. The Harmony 650 lists for $80 but the street price is usually lower, do some digging and save some cash. Or visit your local TV retailer of preference and check out some of the other remotes, which may be a little simpler to set up and a little cheaper but probably won’t have all the features I described. Whatever universal remote you choose, one remote is way more convenient than six.

– John Morton