A device that is used to select a video source for the TV via the HDMI interface. For example, a cable box, DVD player and DVR may all have HDMI outputs, but the TV may have only one HDMI input. In this case, a three-port HDMI switch would have three HDMI inputs for the source components and one HDMI output to the TV set.
When multiple TVs are used, there are HDMI switches with two or more outputs. The switch may be operated manually, by remote control or automatically by priority. When an HDMI source is turned on with a higher priority, those signals are directed to the TV.
Why do I need a HDMI Switch?
HDMI switches are useful for people that have multiple HDMI video source devices (examples of common HDMI sources: Blu-ray players, DVRs, Streaming boxes, etc.) and want to switch between them one at a time on their TV. This switch capability is great when you are using a product like the driftTV which processes a signal before sending it to the TV.
Without the HDMI switch you would have to manually plug in the driftTV to a different input every time you wanted to change sources, or you would need a driftTV for every device you have plugged into your TV. With an HDMI switch you can send all the signals through a single driftTV with ease.
How Does the HDMI Switch Work?
Because some TVs have a limited amount of HDMI inputs, you can find yourself unable to attach a new gaming system or streaming device because all the inputs are in use. With an HDMI switch, however, you can use a single input on your TV and attach multiple devices to the HDMI switch. Then, on the HDMI switch, you can press a button to select which input you’d like to use.
HDMI switches: When you don’t have enough inputs
The prime reason to get an HDMI switch is if your TV, AV receiver or soundbar has too few inputs for the number of sources you have. For instance, your TV has two HDMI inputs and you have a cable box, a Roku, and an Xbox. I’m sure many of you have both an Xbox and a PlayStation and have to swap HDMI cables to play a game on the other. A switch would help there, too. Fortunately, they aren’t that expensive.
A few things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for switches. First: Get more inputs than you need. Sure it’s possible you’ll swap out a streamer or game console for a new model, but equally likely you’ll get something new and need yet another HDMI input. Also, some switches have remotes. Not a huge deal by any stretch, but certainly a convenience.
It’s crucial to make sure whatever switch you’re considering at least matches the resolution and HDMI version of your latest gear. Many inexpensive switches are HDMI 1.4, which is fine for 1080p resolution but not for most 4K. A switch that’s HDMI 2.0 is definitely worth spending a bit more to get. Even if none of your current sources are 4K, your next sources certainly will be. HDMI 2.0 is backward-compatible, but you can’t “upgrade” an HDMI 1.4 switch to 2.0.
If you’re on the fence about needing a switch, consider this: HDMI ports on TVs and other gear were not built for repeated connection and disconnection. Yanking that HDMI cable out every time you want to switch sources is putting wear and tear on your cables and gear. A switch will decrease that wear and tear, extending the life of your gear as well as easing the hassle of using your AV system.
How Do You Hook Up an HDMI Switch?
No matter what kind of HDMI switch you get, you’ll be setting it up the same way. The only difference between types of switches is how many inputs it has. Follow these steps to set up an HDMI switch to your TV.
1. Make sure your TV and all devices you’re going to use are off. Then, connect the HDMI switch cable to an HDMI port on your TV.
2. Connect the HDMI switch to a power outlet.
3. Connect the devices you want to use with your HDMI switch to the switch’s inputs using HDMI cables.
4. Turn on your TV and select the input the switch is attached to. Select the device on the HDMI switch.
5. Go to the input selection on your TV and select the input you connected the HDMI switch to. The device will then show up on your TV.
What’s the Difference Between an HDMI Switch and an HDMI Matrix Switch?
A switch connects several devices to a single HDMI port on a TV, projector or soundbar, e.g., 5-in/1-out. A matrix switch connects several devices to multiple destinations, e.g., 5-in/3-out.
Are HDMI Switches Any Good?
Yes, well-made HDMI switches will do a great job of connecting several devices to a single HDMI input. Just make sure that it supports the video resolutions and audio formats that you need to send.
Do HDMI Switches Need Power?
No, not all HDMI switches need power. If there is a strong output HDMI signal from the source device, and the cable run isn’t too long, then a passive switcher without power will work fine. However, a switch with an optional power supply can help to improve the performance in some situations.
Does an HDMI Switcher Cause Input Lag?
A well-made switch should have no harmful effect on the signal it sends. A cheap switcher may cause issues, so be careful with real budget models. But, you don’t need to spend too much. Also, always try and keep your cable runs as short as possible to avoid creating problems.