How to Connect Multiple HDMI Devices to an Old HDTV

Published: 07th June 2010
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Early HDTVs tend to have just about 1 or 2 HDMI ports, and this puts the early adopters in a slightly awkward position today, as there are so many HDMI devices to be plugged in, yet so few HDMI ports available.

In order to connect your many HDMI devices to your HDTV, one way, of course, is to upgrade to a new HDTV which nowadays usually has 4 or more HDMI ports, but that also leads to significantly lighter weight of your wallet.

A more economical way is to use an HDMI switch, which can connect multiple HDMI devices to your HDTV via a single HDMI port.

What Is an HDMI Switch, and What Does It Do?

An HDMI switch (a.k.a. HDMI switcher, HDMI selector) receives HDMI signals from multiple HDMI sources and sends the signals to your HDTV, occupying only 1 HDMI port. It serves as an agent to accept many HDMI signals for your HDTV, even if your HDTV has only 1 or 2 HDMI port(s).

With an HDMI switch, you can connect multiple HD sources to your HDTV, such as:

• Blu-Ray player, HD-DVD player, DVD player with HDMI output;

• PS3, Xbox360, Wii with HDMI output;

• HTPC, or computers with HDMI ports;

• HDTV box, satellite dish network, HDTV recorder;

• HD camera, or HD Cam recorder;

• Any other devices capable of outputting HDMI signals.

See How Easily It Works

There are 3-port, 4-port, and 5-port HDMI switches, and those rare ones with even more ports. The most common and most affordable ones (due to mass production) are 3-port HDMI switches.

On a 3-port HDMI switch, there will be 4 HDMI ports: 3 input ports receiving signals from 3 of your HDMI sources, and 1 output port sending signals to the HDTV. There is usually a LED light on each input side to indicate which source is selected.

An HDMI switch usually offers automatic switching, and allows you to override and manually select your source; some advanced HDMI switch would have a remote control to make switching HDMI much easier.

Automatic HDMI switching

A good HDMI switch should have this automatic switching function.

Each time you turn on an HDMI source, the HDMI switch will automatically select this source. If you decide to turn on another one, the HDMI switch will switch to this second source. If you turn on another, it'll jump to this third device.

In most cases, this is intelligent enough to work out just fine and take care of most, if not all, of your switching needs.

Manual HDMI switching

The above-mentioned auto-switching function may not always work when there is one or more HDMI sources "always on", such as an HDTV recorder or a satellite network box, which you probably don't turn off that often, and is, therefore, always turned-on in the background.

In that case, you will need to manually choose your desired HDMI source.

An HDMI switch with manual overriding function would usually have a button on it, which allows you to manually choose your desired HD source by pressing it.

For example, if the switch is currently on Input 1, your pressing the button once will let you choose Input 2, pressing it again allows you to jump to Input 3.

HDMI switching with remote control

A remote control would be so much more convenient when you could just sit back and relax on your couch, and select whatever input by pressing on the remote, than going over to the switch and press a button on it.

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