If you ever have had more than one HDMI device connected to a TV or an AV-receiver, you’d certainly appreciate the device connecting all the gear at once and letting switch between the gadgets. The best HDMI switch is different for each user since the number of ports and functionality required varies significantly. Still, there are many other factors that should be considered when shopping for the handy and functional HDMI switch.
- A number of devices usually connected at a time. A modern household might have plenty of gadgets; still, just a few of them are used constantly. That’s why the large HDMI switch with plenty of inputs might be an overkill.
- Supported formats and protocols. The large and powerful HDMI switch might turn out totally useless if it doesn’t work with the 4K format or misses the HDCP 2.2 compatibility. The reason people use HDMI is getting the crisp and bright picture and clear audio; so, the latest formats are important.
- The location and sturdiness of ports. Having multiple ports doesn’t help if they’re too close together; so, two solid cables just don’t fit in the adjoining ports. The solid contacts ensure constant connection without handshake issues and are less susceptible to corrosion.
- Remote control. While for the desktop switches the remote control can turn out to be a useless accessory, it becomes a valuable addition for the TV- and movie watching, music listening, etc.
Consider your situation and requirements and browse through the quality HDMI switches that are reviewed below.
HDMI Switch Reviews
Five 4K-compatible ports, an automatic switching function, a remote control, and totally affordable price make this smart HDMI switch one of the top picks on the list.
This small switcher allows connecting five sources simultaneously passing through 10 Gbps of data. It means that it can successfully manage the high-demand devices like a Blu-ray player and a gaming console along with the streaming gadgets and computers.
The device is 4K- and 3D-compatible and transmits the UHD movies and other content without distortion or quality deterioration. Meanwhile, the refresh rate for the 4K content is 30Hz, which means that the dynamic movies or games might feature some trails or blurs. Still, the input lag is very low; at switching, the signal is transmitted almost instantaneously and at good quality.
The appliance features the automatic switching feature that can be disabled by command. For manual browsing through sources, it provides an IR remote. Thus, there are options for any setup and watching habits one might have. It’s simple and convenient just to turn on the blu-ray player and have the movie on the screen or checking if the Chromecast is connected by selecting it through the Kinivo remote.
- The casing is hybrid aluminum helping prevent the switch from overheating.
- LED lights on the front panel show the input status.
- Plug-n-play setup, no tuning is needed.
- No HDR support.
- It doesn’t support the HDCP 2.2 protocol.
Five inputs, support of 4K and 4D formats, and infrared remote make this HDMI switch box a lucrative option for many households. Reliable build and convenient layout of the ports benefit the transmission of the clear signal, both audio and video one.
The switch provides the HDMI 1.4-connection in all the five ports, two of which are also MHL-compatible. Thus, it can also serve for streaming from the smartphone and demonstrating the phone’s screen.
The switch is controlled both manually and remotely. The remote control is minimalist, with just five buttons to activate each of the inputs. While there is no automatic switching between the inputs, manual switching is performed fast featuring next to no lag.
The unit supports HDCP 1.4 protocol letting it stream 3D content in high quality. It ensures a colorful precisely drawn picture with sharp contrasts within the 1080p resolution, for HDMI / MHL compatible inputs. The inputs for HDMI only can transmit the 4Kx2K format as well. All five inputs are enhanced with the EDID RAM technology for fast recognition and optimization of the video playback.
- Various sound formats supported including Dolby True HD and DTS-HD.
- Incorporated DDC switch provides for optimal video performance.
- The efficient warmth dissipation system prevents overheating.
- No power off button.
- Not all the inputs support 4K content transmission.
The four sturdy ports for HDMI sources, the high refresh rate for 4K content, and HDCP 2.2 compliance make this device a perfect HDMI switch for gaming. While the switcher is easy-to-use, the all-ports-in-a-row design isn’t the perfect design solution, especially for short and thick HDMI cables.
The 60Hz rate and 24-bit format maintained, this switch passes through the 4K movies and games solidly. There are no blurs, signal delays or picture deterioration. Each scene is crisp, and the contrasts are preserved well. For the sound, the device supports popular Dolby and DTS formats, transmitting the audio “as it is”. The switch passes the high-definition signal fast, without lip sync or input lag issues, which is great for dynamic games and sports watching.
For fast recognition and convenient switching between the inputs, the switch is equipped with picture-in-picture technology. With the remote control, it’s possible to quickly find the needed input, just picking the icon with the content currently played, or reading a message from a friend on a smaller screen while having the TV show or a movie played on the main one.
- Transmits the 3D content providing a quality picture at 60Hz rate.
- Supports the deep color technology enabling natural picture and sharp contrasts.
- The solid build of the case and ports.
- The auto-switching activates the input for the device that upgrades, sometimes in the middle of another activity.
- The LED lights are too bright and distracting.
The versatility of this 4K HDMI switch makes it a good solution for most of the regular video- and audio-bound needs. It allows connecting three different devices to the selected output without hassle. The connection is easy-to-perform due to the big gold-plated ports located far enough for the cables not to touch.
Besides the standard HDMI-out port, this switcher features a 3.5mm audio out port and the optical cable connection to send the audio to the dedicated devices like headphones. It also has a USB port, which, however, works for power only. It supports a variety of video formats, including 4K and 1080p one and 5.1-channel audio. For audio, the array of formats is wide, due to multiple audio outputs. It includes Dolby Digital and DTS, two-channel stereo sound.
The 4K is transmitted at 30Hz rate, which works fine for most movies and other streamed content. The audio and video of high definition are processed instantly, there are no lip sync issues. The sources can be managed through picture-in-picture mode, with all the controls performed via the remote. The device is equipped with the automatic switch function that can be changed for manual browsing. Additionally, the IR remote control can be used for selecting between the inputs and operation modes.
- No delay even for dynamic video.
- Clean and rich sound through the optical connection (when transmitting to a soundbar or AV receiver).
- The bulging remote buttons are easy-to-find and recognize even in the dark.
- It doesn’t support Netflix.
- The switcher box is rather large and heavy.
The sturdiness of ports and the wired cable providing the reliable connection of various devices through three inputs make this unit claim the position of the best HDMI switch that belongs to the budget price point. It combines the simplicity of design and control with solid performance.
The switch doesn’t support native 4K content; yet, it’s fully compatible with 1080p format and transmits the 3D as well. The solid build and stuff design let it pass through the video and audio in high quality. The picture is vivid and crisp while the audio is lifelike and rich in nuance.
Being small and simple in design, the device takes the power from other gear connected not requiring the additional source of power. Still, with some HDMI units like streaming gadgets, the power supplied might not suffice. The solution is to activate all three inputs, which, however, could be inconvenient for users with just a few HDMI-equipped gears.
The connectors on this unit are gold-plated for resisting corrosion and transmitting the signal quickly and in full. The switcher provides next to zero latency and fits for connecting the PC or a tablet to the TV screen as a monitor.
- One button control for operation mode changing.
- Good color handling within the full HD format.
- Very small and lightweight, inconspicuous in the home theater setup.
- No remote control option.
- Short incorporated cable doesn’t provide much flexibility.
This dual HDMI switch 4K is notable for its easiness of use and the possibility to work as a splitter as well. With strong 4Kx2K support, it makes a great HDMI switch for TV for non-demanding setups (including, for example, a Blu-ray player and a PC, or a Chromecast and a gaming console).
The unit is versatile, allowing to connect two sources (e.g. a DVR and the HDTV box) to a single monitor. The connections can also work in reverse, and the source can be linked to two screens simultaneously. Still, the switch mechanism allows using only one route, which means that only one monitor will display at a time.
The controls are quite simple, the source / output is changed by pressing a single button on top of the switch. The icon of the working port is highlighted by a green LED light, which is well visible yet unobtrusive. All the ports are made solidly and accept the cables with ease fixing them steadily in place.
The switcher transmits 4K format at a good rate of 30Hz enabling a bright and colorful picture with precise contours and well-drawn shades. The quality HD audio is supported, providing clean and voluminous sound.
- No power feed required, the switch is powered by the sources.
- Large data can be transmitted at a time (the bandwidth reaches 10.2 Gbps).
- Stylish design, sturdy aluminum casing.
- Source 1 should be always activated for powering another port.
- The high-resolution signal is transmitted by cables of no more than 16 ft.
With native 4K support, four HDMI 2.0 ports, a variety of audio formats maintained and the ARC function, this unit makes a packed HDMI switch with audio out. However, the absence of HDCP 2.2 compliance might become an issue when connected to the latest devices maintaining that security protocol.
The switcher features separate audio out ports for connecting to the AVR or another audio device. The optical one is enhanced with ARC function letting the device split the audio and send it directly to the soundbar or another device. As a result, the audio in True HD and alike formats is performed very clear, in the vast frequency range.
The 4K video is transmitted at 60Hz rate, ensuring a crisp lifelike picture and deep contrast. There is also the HDR-enabled port letting enhance the image further, add tints and shades for the more vivid picture.
The device is equipped with the automatic selector reacting to the latest enabled port. However, there is no automatic switching for the sources currently active. Switching between the ports is performed manually via the switcher panel button or the included IR remote.
- Large data volume transmission supported (18 Gbps).
- Fast switching between the sources, with no input lag and quality preserved.
- Convenient layout of the ports, with all the inputs on the back and the outputs on the side.
- Short power cable supplied (about 2.5 ft).
- It didn’t switch automatically to PlayStation 4.
What is an HDMI Switch and How to Use It
HDMI is the format transferring the high definition video and audio. Though modern TVs usually have several HDMI ports, these might still not be enough for connecting all the gear of the home theater or an entertainment system to the TV. That’s where the HDMI switching device enters the game.
The HDMI switch is a “tee” box for HDMI channels. It allows connecting multiple (or at least two) AV devices to a TV or another gadget (a PC, projector, etc.). Each HDMI switch review usually starts with the description of the number of ports operated and the formats supported. While the needs of each user vary, the regular household usually features a gaming console, a Blu-Ray player / DVR, a cable box, some streaming devices like Chromecast. Besides, many people today prefer browsing photos or streaming the content from their smartphones and tablets to the big screen TV. The HDMI switch allows hooking up all of this gear at once and select between the gadgets by means of the panel buttons or infrared remote.
Depending on the protocols supported, HDMI switches can transmit different audio and video formats in high quality. The HD format is standard for most switches, while the native 4K content transferred at 60Hz rate or higher makes a premium option.
HDMI switches can have different look, from the simplest single button to a row of LED lights and mode changing options on the remote.
How does a HDMI Switch Work? The Basics
The HDMI switch connects several HDMI-enabled units with a single screen or the audio device. It lets choose between the connected gear but provides only one connection at a time. That is, you cannot stream the series from the Fire TV stick and watch the movie from the Blu-Ray player simultaneously.
Still, this situation can happen provided the relevant technologies are incorporated in the HDMI switch. Here’s the list of features making the HDMI switch a handy assistant in the multimedia world:
- Picture-in-picture. Some HDMI switching devices are equipped with picture-in-picture functionality. This feature allows seeing the small windows reflecting the content played in other sources, on the screen, while the main source activated takes the fullness of the screen. With some switches, these windows are functional meaning you can play a video game and watch the news on the TV simultaneously.
- Audio out. There are HDMI switchers that allow sending the audio separately to a dedicated device (headphones, AV-receiver, turntable, etc). This allows playing the clean sound without interference through the most fitting gear.
- Reverse operation. In a few models, the input ports can be used as outputs so that a single source can be connected to two screens or other gear. This can be handy for making a presentation or watching the football game with friends.
- Power. The small HDMI switches featuring two or three ports can draw the power from the sources they are connected to. However, there are usually the preferred power inputs (e.g. input 1). Which means that if the “preferred” input is currently disabled, the switch wouldn’t work for another input as well. However, for the more versatile switches usually the power adaptor is foreseen. The latter can be of the regular type or a USB-enabled one.
Picking the HDMI Switch. What to Look For?
How to choose the HDMI switch that would work great with all the gear you have and provide a real value for money? Here are some tips on what to look for in an HDMI switch:
- Sturdy build. Why this feature is first? Because all the great things like PIP or auto-switching just don’t work properly if the connections aren’t tight and the unit works incorrectly. The model with the solid non-moving ports and in a thick casing (plastic or aluminum), such as the Monoprice HDMI switch, fits better for a steady high quality signal transmission than a flimsy one with the wiggling connections.
- Formats and protocols supported. If you have the latest OLEd TV with the native 4K / HDR support and the quality AVR, the HDMI switch must be compatible with these formats and feature the required level of HDCP protection.
- A number of ports. There’s no need going for a large multi-port switch if you plan on hooking up just a Roku box and a gaming console. At the same time, if you are planning on expanding your system, more HDMI inputs would only be helpful in connecting all of the gear to one device.
- Auto-switching function. While this feature might seem handy and hassle-free, it sometimes might bring more nuisance than anything. Simply turning off the source you need and having the switch activating it on a screen is great. However, some devices like Chromecast tend to upgrade and get activated on their own, which would switch the source instantly.
HDMI Switcher vs HDMI Splitter. What’s the Difference?
The HDMI switch is made to connect many different devices to a TV or another display. It’s a device with many inputs and one output. Its function is routing the signal of a source to the output port, one signal at a time. HDMI switchers with PIP function can transmit several signals simultaneously. If you have a lot of multimedia gear to connect and cannot fit it all into the inputs of your TV, you need an HDMI switch.
The HDMI splitter performs the signal split for several outputs. It allows watching one movie or a show on several TVs or projectors. It has one input and several outputs. The signal can be transmitted simultaneously to all outputs or only to one of them at a time, depending on the splitter functionality. If you wish to show the same content, let us say, from a DVR, on multiple screens, or play music on several devices, the HDMI splitter is a way to go.
There are also devices combining the splitters and switchers. They have several inputs and several outputs and are called the HDMI matrix. This is the most versatile gadget allowing various connection combinations. However, they are usually quite big and heavy, in comparison with much smaller switches and splitters.