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Home / Tips and Tricks / HDMI switch vs. HDMI Splitter: Everything you need to know

HDMI switch vs. HDMI Splitter: Everything you need to know



  HDMI Switcher Opener

A simple HDMI switch like this from IO Gear can add much-needed inputs to your TV or AV receiver.


IOGear

Are you tired of exchanging HDMI cable ? Have you just bought a new game console and have no space to connect? Do you want to send the same signal to multiple TVs? You, my friend, need either an HDMI switch or an HDMI splitter. They are a cost effective way to keep your current equipment relevant and useful. But which is which?

  techole-2x1-switch "height =" 0 "width =" 270 "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/zbc4TsBmXwksEbA5sLYXDVY2jSI=/270x0/2019/05/30/bb5296d5-2777 Techole-2x1-switch "height =" 0 "width =" 270

A $ 10 2×1 switch from Techole. Yes, that is the actual company name.


Techole

  • The HDMI switch uses multiple sources (Xbox, Roku, cable box, etc.) and sends a cable to your TV or other device.
  • The HDMI Splitter uses a source and sends it to multiple TVs.
  • 1×3 is not the same as 3×1
  • For example, an HDMI switch would be labeled 3×1 (3 source inputs, 1 output).
  • For example, an HDMI splitter would be labeled 1×3 (1 source input, 3 outputs))
  • Make sure the splitter or switch is compatible with the resolution you want to send.

The words "switch" and "splitter" are often used interchangeably, but the devices themselves serve conflicting purposes. We'll talk about it in more detail, but the short version is that an HDMI switch uses multiple sources, such as Xboxes and Media Streamer, and you can choose between them by connecting a cable to yours Send TV. As you've probably already discovered, a splitter picks up a signal and splits it across multiple HDMI cables.

For most of you reading this, you probably want a switch. While there are many situations where a splitter is required, these are not as common to the average consumer.

Switching between Nintendo (and Xbox and PlayStation)

The main reason for buying an HDMI switcher is that your TV, AV receiver or soundbar has too few inputs for the number of available sources.

For example, 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 need to swap HDMI cables to play one game on top of another. There too a change would help. Luckily, they are not that expensive.

Some things to keep in mind when buying switches. Get more inputs than you need. Sure, you may want to swap a streamer or game console for a new model, but you're also likely to get something new and need another HDMI input. Some switches also have remote controls. Not a big deal, but certainly a convenience.

  univivi-hdmi-switch "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/MeS8P3pSrb-l-fvcwN_wbvd9MxE=/2019/05/30/37d6c237-d971-4366-9b17-7bd60767 -hdmi -switch.jpg

A switch uses multiple sources, in this case two game consoles and a laptop, and sends them to a display.


Main image: Univivi, TV: LG, Screenshot: Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

Be sure that any switches you consider meet at least the resolution and HDMI version of your latest device. Many switches are HDMI 1.4, which is fine for 1080p, but not for most 4K. A switch that is HDMI 2.0 is definitely worth extra effort. Even if none of your current sources is 4K, your next sources will surely be 4K. HDMI 2.0 is backward compatible, but you can not upgrade an HDMI 1.4 switch to 2.0.

  rocketfish-rf-g1501 "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/Q2RVPeXiSOyFGfM1i7DZyrlGsY=/2019/05/30/0b1314f0-56c3-442d-9b9a-c00f02415e .jpg

A 4×1 switch. Four inputs, one output to the TV.


Rocketfish

If you plan to use a switch, note the following: HDMI ports on TVs and other devices have not been created to repeatedly connect and disconnect devices. If you unplug the HDMI cable every time you want to change the source, your cables and equipment will be heavily used. A switch reduces wear, extends the life of your equipment and makes it easier to use your A / V system.

There are currently no recommendations for specific HDMI switches. At Amazon, however, you'll find a variety of options for just $ 10 or less.

Please note that CNET may receive a portion of the revenue when you buy something featured on our website.

Splitting

If you have a source and want to send that source's signal to multiple TVs, you'll need an HDMI splitter. Maybe the TV is in another room, or you have a TV during the day and a projector in the same room at night. A splitter duplicates a signal and sends it over multiple HDMI cables. Some splitters are also switches with multiple inputs and outputs. We will talk about that in the next section.

  monoprice-blackbird-4k-1x8 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/akVY4MI612dPLOSSM-wfTs_ZiJU=/2019/05/30/818fce1c-43ae-412b-a842-6a46b1058e -blackbird -4k-1x8.jpg

A 1×8 splitter: A source for eight TVs or projectors.


Monoprice

If you want to have two displays displayed at once, note that the maximum resolution for all is independent of the lowest resolution . So if you have a 4K source, a 4K TV, and a 1080p TV, the 4K source will only send 1080p. The splitter does not convert the signal to 1080p just for this TV.

Theoretically, you should not have problems with copy protection. Theoretically. You should be able to send any content across a splitter to multiple TVs. However, this is not a guarantee that you will not have any problems. HDCP "handshakes" are black magic that can sometimes only be solved by dancing around an HDMI logo painted in unicorn tears on the floor. This is especially true for older displays and sources. Make sure it's HDCP before you buy. They will usually say in the product description.

  iogear-ghsp8424-1x4-splitter "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/irs9QcToGSv01Yb4eqyKo19CaHE=/2019/05/30/4fc39fba-cb35-45ff-a0a7-1688d98i -1x4-splitter .jpg

A 1×4 splitter.


IOGear

Although there are some splitters without a power supply on the market, it's probably better to buy a powered splitter. That's just a bit more money, and there's a better chance your setup will work without dropouts or connectivity issues.

As with switches, there are currently no recommendations for specific HDMI splitters. At Amazon, however, you'll find a variety of options for just $ 10 or less.

Here I mention that some products are wrongly labeled on Amazon (and elsewhere). For example, in the link above for Splitter, some switches have been shown, and one (I am looking at Techole) is a switch, not a splitter, although in its description the words "HDMI Splitter" are used. But now that you've read so far, you know the difference and can shop with confidence, right?

Adding compleXity

Splits and many switches are labeled in their names with the number of inputs and outputs. In a "1×3" splitter, therefore, one input is sent to three outputs.

Unlike the abovementioned misidentified devices, there are devices that combine a switch and a splitter in the same box. A "4×2" switch is also a splitter with four inputs and two outputs. Four sources can be sent to two TVs.

The number of inputs and outputs is significantly increased on the commercial side, as 16×16 splitters / switches or more can be used. These are commonly referred to as matrix switches. CNET's television lab uses an 8×8 matrix switch to send multiple 4K HDR signals to multiple TVs and compare them side-by-side.

Of course you do not need to worry about it. For most of you, a 3×1 or 4×1 switch is everything you'll probably need.

One last thing to keep in mind. Adding a device to the HDMI chain can cause problems. HDMI is a lousy beast and you may come across a combination of source, switch / splitter, cables and display that simply will not work. Or even more frustrating: do not work reliably and randomly cut out like the lameest electric demon in the world. There's no way to prevent it, and it's not common, it's just something to think about. You may need to troubleshoot. You may be able to correct the problem by turning on the transmission in a specific order. However, this may not work. There is no simple workaround for this, just trial and error.

In most situations, however, a switch will make your life a little easier, and a splitter may allow certain gait settings that would not otherwise be possible. Handy little devices, no?


Do you have a question for Geoff? First, read all the other articles he wrote on topics such as why you should not buy expensive HDMI cables TV Resolutions Explained How HDR Works and More.

One more question? Tweet it @TechWriterGeoff then check out his travel photography on Instagram. He also thinks you should look at his best-selling science fiction novel and its sequel.


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