A sleek-looking box with high-quality components. Supports 3D devices. The Picture in Picture (PiP) mode lets you keep track of your other inputs and easily switch between them. Manual switch option is there in case the remote gets lost.
Users report the signal can unexpectedly drop out.
We love how easy this product is to use — just plug in your devices and you're good to go. Simply press the "Switch" button to change the devices. No extra remote that could be lost. Great value for money.
The red "Select" light can be off-putting to some users during nighttime viewing.
This switcher gets top marks for its flexibility, with its five HDMI ports. Simple and quick to set up. Remote control included for easy switching and manual button as back up. Will automatically switch to active signal.
Some users report that infrared signals from other remote controls can interfere with the unit.
A great HDMI switcher with quality components. Easy to hook up and operate. Switch quickly between devices with "Picture in Picture" mode. A bonus is that the auto switch mode can be turned off. This unit stands out for its exemplary customer service from Dinger.
Users report that this does not support HDCP 2.2, HDR or HDMI 2.0. products.
Allows up to three HDMI products to be routed to one display. It's very easy to install and operate — just plug in and play. Can be programmed to other all-in-one remote controls.
Apple TV's "always active" state might cause problems with auto switch, but the manual override can be used.
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As technology advances, our entertainment sources keep multiplying. Where you once had a single cable box, you now may have a Blu-ray player, Roku box, Fire Stick, and multiple gaming units. While the number of devices you own grows, the number of HDMI inputs on your television does not. Perhaps you’ve been playing musical chairs with your HDMI input for a while. You’ve popped your popcorn, dimmed the lights, and settled down to enjoy a movie only to find the wrong component is plugged in. Or maybe your child broke a cable trying to plug in a gaming system. It’s time to get off the cable carousel. You need an HDMI switcher.
Simply put, an HDMI switcher expands the number of HDMI sources you can connect to your TV at once. It can help you avoid disruptions and damage. Instead of manually switching the cables between the components, you plug the cables into the inputs on the switcher. You then connect the switcher’s HDMI output to your television and select the source you want to use.
Which HDMI switcher meets your needs and budget? Let BestReviews help you find the right product to make the most of your downtime. For even faster shopping, check out our top recommendations.
When choosing an HDMI switcher, you need to think about your entertainment needs and habits.
Typically, HDMI switchers offer between two and eight inputs. Units with more ports usually cost more than units with fewer inputs. However, since the point of buying an HDMI switcher is to expand your options, it might be wiser to purchase a unit with extra inputs to accommodate more components you may buy in the future.
Different HDMI switchers toggle between sources using a handful of methods.
Manual: Nearly all switchers offer a manual switching method in which you push a button to change which source is being accessed. This is the most reliable method, but you still must get up from your seat to change the source.
Remote: Other HDMI switchers include a button on the unit and a remote control, so you can change which source is being accessed from across the room. This is more convenient, but it adds another remote to your collection to confuse or lose.
If you want to watch Blu-ray or HD DVD movies, you’ll need to buy a switcher that supports HDCP. Not all switchers support HDCP copy protection encoding. If you don’t use these devices, you won’t necessarily need a switcher that does.
The type of television you have can also make a difference in which switcher you need. Virtually all consumer-ready HDMI switchers support 1080p and Dolby Digital/DTS. That said, if you plan to route the switcher’s output through a home theater receiver rather than directly to the TV, you need to make sure it’s compatible with the system’s advanced audio format.
Compatibility: If you plan to use your switcher with an Ultra HD 4K TV and similar components, you’ll need to make sure the switcher is 4K compatible. Check to make sure the switcher supports your device’s HDMI handshake requirements, typically known as HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection) or HDCP 2.2, to get the devices to start communicating. Additionally, if your system requires signals that are HDR encoded, use 3D video, or feature other advanced styles, you’ll need an HDMI switcher that supports them.
Wireless: A handful of switchers can support wireless connectivity as well as connections to wired devices. These devices have a traditional HDMI output as well as a wireless one that sends a signal to a display. These devices are especially helpful with wall-mounted televisions; are convenient in instances where you don’t want to run cables across the room or through walls; and can help to reduce tangled jumbles of wires. Again, convenience will cost you more, and you’ll need to be sure the switcher supports your system’s requirements.
PIP mode: Switchers equipped with picture-in-picture (PIP) mode let you see the feed from other sources without switching from the one you’re currently using. This can help you keep track of your different media options without losing the one you’re already using.
If you’re having trouble with your HDMI components connecting, check your universal remote. Some turn on all components at once, which can interfere with the TV’s connection with the source you want. Make sure you’re only turning on one component at a time.
Prices of HDMI switchers vary greatly depending on the number of inputs and the formats supported.
Budget switchers cost about $10. At this price, switchers can generally handle two or three sources and support 1080p. Some support HDTV 4K and a few other options.
These switchers cost between $20 and $30. Switchers in this price range should have at least three inputs and offer automatic or remote switching options. You should expect offerings to support 4K video to at least 30Hz, Ultra HD, and possibly 3D. They may not support all HDCP options.
Higher-end HDMI switchers cost around $40 or more. If you’re paying this much, your switcher should have four or more ports and support a majority of video formats as well as HDCP. However, be sure to check for your specific format because the technology is always changing.
Some wireless switchers cost significantly more than $40. Remember, with these units, you’re paying for the aesthetics of wall mounting and fewer cables, as well as the convenience of not securing cables across the room or mounting them in your walls.
Don’t pay for more cable than you need. While extra thickness and insulation were important for analog cables, the same isn’t true of HDMI cables.
If you’re an Apple TV user, be aware that its “always on” function interferes with some HDMI switcher auto-sensors. You may need to check carefully or be prepared to select sources manually or use a remote.
Some switchers don’t receive enough power to operate when only one source is turned on. If you’re having problems, turn on another device or two that are connected to the source.
If you’re specifically looking for a switcher that offers PIP, be sure to check the window sizes. Some PIPs practically split the screen into dual panes, while others make the secondary window much smaller. Select the one that best meets your needs.
When setting up your switcher, put it in a place where all the components feeding into it can reach it, such as the middle of an entertainment center.
The tech market is constantly changing, and there are other good items that didn’t quite make our shortlist. You may also want to consider these options. If it plays, displays, or streams, the Smartooo 3-Port HDMI Switch probably supports it. This switcher can handle 4K 60HZ 4:4:4, multiple HDR formats, Full HD, UHD, and more. It’s also compatible with less advanced HDMI versions. Smartooo changes automatically through your sources until it detects the one that’s outputting a signal, and it also comes with a remote. Gamers will love the USBNOVEL 3-Port HDMI Switcher. It’s easy to set up with a variety of gaming systems and auto-switches to find the one that’s active. This unit can handle display resolutions up to 4K x 2K at 30Hz,1080p and 3D. It’s HDCP 1.4 protocol compliant and compatible with 3D, HDMI 1.4v video format. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support HDCP 2.2, HDR, or HDMI 2.0.
Q. I’m thinking about replacing my old television with a smart TV. Will I still need multiple HDMI ports?
A. Probably. One of the main selling points of a smart TV is that it can stream content through its internet connection as an alternative to using multiple devices. It might cut down on the number of cables you need, but it probably won’t eliminate your Blu-ray player or gaming systems, which all connect through HDMI cables. When you’re shopping, either buy a TV with the number of HDMI inputs you think you’ll need, or get a switcher that’s compatible with your new TV.
Q. If I buy a device that automatically switches sources, do I really need a remote, too?
A. We recommend it. While many HDMI switchers are designed to detect power and signals, in reality, it doesn’t always work. Some switchers can’t get enough power to operate if only one source is turned on, so a second source needs to be powered up, which can interfere with the sensors. Apple TV’s “always on” feature is notorious for complicating things. Without a remote, you could be left getting up and toggling the switcher manually, one of the problems you were trying to avoid when you bought the unit.
Q. Is there any foolproof way to make sure I get a switcher that supports all my media?
A. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way other than carefully checking the specs. Every TV, sound, and theater system is slightly different in its technology, signals, and inputs. The answers aren’t always intuitive. To save yourself a headache, hours of troubleshooting, and possible return costs, make sure what you buy is fully compatible before completing the purchase.
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