What Is HDMI Switching?

By Dave Donovan

HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) is the connector of choice for delivering uncompressed audio and video streams between high-end electronic components such as receivers, televisions, Blu-Ray players, digital cable boxes and more. When you have more components with HDMI output availability than you have HDMI inputs, you will need a device called an HDMI switch.


The function of an HDMI switch is to allow multiple HDMI cables to be connected to a device that has a limited number of HDMI inputs. For instance, if you have a high-definition television with one HDMI input on the back, and you have a Playstation 3, an HD cable box and another Blu-Ray player, you're faced with a dilemma of too many HDMI cables and only one port on the TV. To solve that problem, use an HDMI switch.


There are many different types of HDMI switches available. The most popular models feature 3x1 HDMI switching and 5X1 HDMI switching. With these devices, they allow for three or five HDMI components, respectively, to be connected through one output.It is always a good idea to think ahead and plan for the future. If you have three HDMI components now, you are more than likely going to have more in the future. Always keep expandability in mind.If you have a stereo surround that doesn't have an HDMI input, there are HDMI switches available that have Toslink routing capabilities. This enables you to integrate your digital optical equipment in alignment with your HDMI video source.Additionally, 4x2 HDMI cross switches are available if you need to separate your signal between two displays or for HD picture-in-picture from two sources.


HDMI switching enables the user to enjoy picture and sound from a number of high-definition sources without the need of swapping out connections. This piece of equipment will also help reduce the total cost of ownership by eliminating the need to upgrade existing equipment.


When shopping for an HDMI switch for your home entertainment system, be aware that not all are created equal. Besides expandability, here are some things to look for when purchasing an HDMI switch:* External source of power--Avoid purchasing an HDMI switch powered by the HDMI source itself. Purchase only a switch that comes with its own power source.* Intelligent input selection--All HDMI sources deliver a signal that indicates it is available. Some HDMI switches have the ability to recognize it and eliminate the need for manual selection.* Power-saving feature--Choose an HDMI switch that automatically goes into Standby mode when the source is turned off.* HDMI 1.3 capable--HDMI 1.3 is the current version of HDMI. Having a switch that is up to date with the technology will help you avoid costly replacements down the line.* HDCP transparency--The switch must be capable of passing HDCP data from source to display.


HDMI technology and high-definition entertainment are improving rapidly. HDMI switching allows for the end-user to enjoy cutting-edge technology while keeping costs low and increasing their entertainment potential for the future.