You must connect multiple video sources to a TV with only one HDMI input. Switching the HDMI cable is inconvenient and causes wear and tear on the TV connector and its repair. Instead, your best choice is to buy an HDMI switcher. This device usually has several HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. You can switch sources using the buttons on the front panel or with an IR remote control. Some switchers have an RS-232 port for connecting external control systems.
When looking for an HDMI switch in stores, you may find a more advanced device, the multi-switch, which costs a bit more. What is it? Is it a good buy? Let's find out.
What is an HDMI switch, and how does it work, using the INRIKS SW4031 (analog is Lenkeng LKV301-V2.0) as an example? The device has 3 HDMI inputs for connecting video sources (laptop, TV set-top box, video recorder, etc.) and 1 HDMI output for connecting a monitor / TV / projector. The maximum resolution is 4k@60fps.
The device is shipped in a cardboard box. This is the usual packaging of devices for the professional consumer. Mass-market products are often packaged in boxes with colorful prints.
The Switcher has a compact size. The bottom of the package contains the IR remote control, a 5 V power adapter, and instructions.
All connectors are located on one side. This feature simplifies the wiring organization. In addition to the HDMI ports and the input for the 5V power adapter, there is an RS232 port. This is another attribute of professional orientation. The device can be connected to various control systems. For example, to control audio/video complex with one console, touch screen, or for automation (running some scenarios). This extensive theme is better explored in more detail in a separate article.
The status indicators (on/off, active input) and the input switching button are on the front side.
The remote control has a minimum button count.
The case is made from thick metal and feels very monolithic in the hands. The connectors fit very well. The gaps are minimal.
The soldering of elements and connectors is neat.
According to the diagram, we connected three laptops and one monitor to the switch.
We found a delay of several seconds when turning on the first input. The same delay is also present when connecting the laptop to the TV directly. It is explained by the two devices matching, which takes time. The picture quality is excellent.
We see the same delay when we switch to the second and third inputs. When switching back to the first input, we see the same delay again, i.e., the matching process happens repeatedly.
This switching is common to all low-cost HDMI switchers. If the long switching time is unacceptable, you should look for a device with Seamless Switching. This function is necessary to switch between cameras during live broadcasts on the Internet.
You can select the desired input or scroll through all video sources individually with the remote control.
The manual contains a port setting description and switching commands for RS232 control:
What is a multi-viewer switcher, and how does it work (using INRIKS SW4041MS (analog is Lenkeng LKV401MS) as an example)?
This device has four HDMI inputs for connecting various video sources (TV set-top box, DVR, laptop, etc.) and one HDMI output for connecting a TV. The maximum resolution is 1080p@60fps.
The SW4041MS multi-switch comes in a similar cardboard box as the regular switch. The package contains the multi-switch, a 12V power adapter, a removable surface mount, and instructions.
Unlike the usual switch, the SW4041MS has HDMI and power cable connectors on both sides. Four HDMI inputs are on the rear side. One HDMI and a DC 12V power input are on the front side. The control buttons and the IR receiver are also on the front side.
Brackets for attaching the multi-switch to different surfaces are included. This is a big plus to the installation possibilities.
The remote control has a large number of buttons for flexible device control.
Multiswitch's housing is made from quality metal. The soldering of elements and connectors is neat.
But we do have a small comment about the location of the capacitors. They clearly tried to fit into a small space. Although this element feature does not affect the performance. We don't have any complaints about other elements.
According to the diagram, we connected four video sources and one monitor to the multi-switch.
According to the manual, in addition to the classic switcher function, the device under test has a multi-viewer function - the simultaneous display of one, two, or four video sources on the screen.
We switched inputs and saw instantaneous switching without image crashes or pauses in full-screen mode (classic HDMI switcher). This surprised us. Usually, devices with this ability cost many times more.
However, we quickly found the "price" of a quick switch. We have decided that the video bit rate is reduced. It is a slight distortion of colors. The multi-switch slightly distorts the image. When displaying standard video, the distortion is almost invisible. But if you display the laptop desktop, the distortion becomes more noticeable. For example, dividing lines in some programs, which were barely detectable in the original image, have disappeared.
When testing the multiscreen function, we concluded that you can actually use «Full-screen mode» and «Quad mode – 1».
In other modes, the multi-switch distorts the image.
In addition, we want to draw your attention to sound. In multi-mode, you can separately specify from which source the sound is output. This is very convenient.
The choice is simple.
You want to connect multiple video sources to one TV (projector) and switch between them. It would be best to choose a standard HDMI switcher (e.g., SW4031) without additional functions.
Your task is to display multiple video sources simultaneously without high image quality requirements. For example, to view multiple video recorders at the same time. You can buy a cheap INRIKS SW4041MS multi-viewer switcher. But this device distorts a video image's color and aspect ratio.
Hi! I'm Kevin! I am a very curious engineer :))
I'm the website founder and author of many posts.
I invite you to follow exciting experiments, research, and challenges.
Let's go on to new knowledge and adventures!