As demand for a completely high definition home theatre experience grows, so the number of manufacturers offering HDMI compatible equipment increases. Today, a modern home cinema system may be made up of several HD sources including DVD and Blu-ray players, satellite boxes and video game consoles, all of which are likely to offer HDMI as the standard connection interface. This is great for consumers because of the crystal clear, digital quality pictures and sound; however, having so many devices requiring a HDMI connection can cause a bit of a headache when it comes to connecting all of these devices to one TV.
So What Exactly Is A HDMI Switch?
Put simply, a HDMI switch is a device that allows you to connect multiple HDMI inputs to a single output. Most of the basic switches have 2 inputs and one output, so you would be able to connect 2 devices to your TV. The switch then allows you to choose between which device acts as the source, so you could connect your DVD player and your Xbox 360, and then simply flick the switch to choose which signal was displayed on your TV. There are many different switch configurations, with some offering 4, 5 or even 6 inputs.
Why Should I Use A HDMI Switch?
It’s unlikely that your TV has more than one HDMI input, so if you have a lot of high definition source devices then it can be a real pain to keep climbing behind your TV in order to change the cable. With a HDMI switch all of your source devices are already connected and you can simply choose which signal you want to view. At the flick of a switch you can swap between watching a DVD movie, to playing your favourite multiplayer game over Xbox Live, to catching up with the latest satellite TV news channel.
What Should I Consider When Buying A HDMI Switch?
One of the main things you need to think about is how many inputs your HDMI switch has – a 2:1 switch may be cheaper in the short term, and is ideal for people who only have 2 HDMI source devices, however if your entire home cinema system makes use of HDMI then you should really look into a switch with more inputs. After all, if your switch box can’t accommodate a suitable number of devices, then you will still end up having to mess about changing HDMI cables, which really does defeat the whole point of the HDMI switch in the first place.
What If I Use HDMI Cables As Well As DVI Cables?
The great thing about HDMI is its backwards compatibility with DVI. As both formats use the same technology to encode the source signal, you can use a HDMI switch with a device that produces a DVI signal; all you need is the correct adaptor cable. This is great news for people who have older equipment that only has a DVI connection, or for those people who incorporate computer hardware into their home cinema system. A DVI-to-HDMI cable is all you will need for your DVI source device to work with a HDMI switch, so as long as you have the correct cables then you don’t need to worry about compatibility.
HDMI cables are fast becoming the de facto standard type of connection in the home entertainment world. Not only does HDMI offer digital quality video and audio, it also simplifies the whole process of connecting devices together. As more devices become HDMI compatible, a HDMI switch box becomes more necessary than ever to ensure that users can quickly choose their desired input source, without having to resort to fumbling behind the TV trying to disconnect one device in order to plug the other in.
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