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When HDMI first started, one or two ports on your TV was all you needed to hook up all your external devices with that specific input. But technology never stays stagnant, and as quality evolved, HDMI became increasingly common across all of our electronics. Now it’s a standard plug of choice for gaming systems, sound bars, streaming devices, and laptops.
How Does an HDMI Port Work?
A TV can only contain a finite number of ports, usually three or four HDMIs at the absolute most, which can leave you constantly switching out plugs for the devices you want to use. That’s where an HDMI switcher comes in. It’s a simple idea, but saves you time, and can make your home setup more organized and efficient. No more manually swapping and juggling cables. No more diving in to that tangled mess of wires behind your TV and following one of them to the end in order to find the right plug. A switcher can let you clearly label each port, and only switch on what you need.
One thing to look at before buying a good HDMI switcher or box is the video output signal. It’s best to go with one that can support 4K, and at least 30 or 60Hz (as well as various audio formats such as HDR). It may still work on your TV regardless, but you won’t be getting the full potential and benefits of sound and sight for whatever media you’re using through it. Even if it does support 4K, be sure to check out the max supported frame rate as well. For example, if the unit supports 30fps, but your streaming is 60fps, you’ll be missing out on the full quality of that content at only half of what it’s designed for. Same goes for HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content) support, as 2.2 is the minimum for watching 4K streaming.
Beyond providing multiple ports, HDMI switchers can also give you the options for extra features as well. LED lights are a handy way to see which ports are active from across the room, and an auto-switch will turn the unit on as soon as it senses you’ve powered up a connected device. Some units also include a small remote control as well, usually with pretty basic commands like switching inputs, but it’ll save you some time as well as a trip from the couch.
1. Techole 4K HDMI Splitter
When you just need another HDMI port to add into your setup, consider this small and simple adapter from Techole.
Your main HDMI goes in one end, and creates two open ports on the other. For a basic and affordable little device, it’s got a nice aluminum alloy feel to it, and the button on top lets you switch between ports one and two with a couple clicks.
It supports 3D, 1080P, 4K x 2K@30hz resolution and HD audio as well. No external power supply is needed here either, and an LED light tells you which port is currently active. It can also handle high bandwidth, at 10.2Gbps data transmission with no lag or loss of picture or video quality.
2. GANA Three-Port 4K HDMI Switch
If you’re only in need of a couple more ports, and don’t really need to go all-out for a five-port box with all the features, this is a quick fix to hook up a couple extra consoles or devices to your main monitor.
Choosing which port you want is easy with one selection key to cycle through the three outputs, and all support 4K as well as 3D display, and full HDTV up to 2160p.
It also automatically recognizes your desired device as soon as you turn it on.
3. Koopman Four Ports HDMI 2.0 Switcher With IR Remote Control
Koopman’s four-ported switcher has an eye-catching, slim design that resembles something straight out of an Eighties futuristic sci-fi movie.
This fully supports connections up to 4K@60Hz resolution, as well as 3D, Dolby Atmos, and most every HDMI gadget you’ve got, from game consoles to projectors. All with great visual delivery at 18gbps (and without any annoying lag).
The unit automatically switches to whatever connected device is powering up, and can also be switched by an accompanying remote (with a nice 23-foot range) or manually on the unit itself. LED lights clearly show which port is being used, and the device doesn’t tend to overheat with long periods of use.
It’s powered by either an AC plug or a micro-USB, and easy to set up, but make sure you’re using 4K HDMI 2.0 cables to get the full effect and not lose any picture or sound from your main device.
4. SkyCropHD Five-Port HDMI Switch With Remote
For those with five HDMI devices, this small substantial switcher will let you connect up all of them without loss of picture or sound quality, with 4K@60Hz and no degradation.
There’s a basic remote included, but it’s also got automatic sensing to switch to whatever device you’ve just turned on. Green LED lights tell you which ports are in use, and the unit is designed to dissipate heat after long stretches.
This is especially great for gamers with multiple systems or consoles they use regularly, eliminating the hassle of rewiring each time they want to get right to gaming.