HDMI Splitter vs HDMI Switch vs HDMI Matrix

Before purchasing an HDMI Splitter, it must be made clear as to what exactly an HDMI splitter is. In doing so, the differences between an HDMI splitter and an HDMI switch has to be known. There is also the bidirectional HDMI switch that can be used as an HDMI splitter as well as an HDMI switch. It gets difficult with the HDMI matrix, which is a combination of the HDMI splitter and the HDMI switch that redirects various incoming signals to various outgoing signals.HDMI Splitter vs HDMI Switch

HDMI Splitter

An HDMI splitter is a little adaptor with one HDMI input and with many HDMI outputs. There are HDMI splitters with up to 16 HDMI outputs, however, HDMI splitters with two or four outputs are usually used. The input ports are usually labelled “HDMI in” and the output port “HDMI out”.

The HDMI splitter is used to clone one HDMI signal to many screens. If you have, for example, one computer with only one HDMI output and would like to transmit the image to a monitor and a television at the same time then the output HDMI cable from the computer is connected to the input port of the HDMI splitter and the HDMI cable from the output port of the splitter is connected to the monitor and television. The computer image can be seen on the monitor and television even though the computer only has one HDMI output. The entire thing works with a qualitative high-quality HDMI splitter without loss of quality, since the HDMI signal is digital and can be copied as often as needed.

An HDMI splitter with one input and four outputs is called “1 to 4” or “1 x 4”. Sometimes it is even called 4 port HDMI splitter as an HDMI splitter generally has only one input port.

HDMI Switch

An HDMI switch is the exact opposite of an HDMI splitter. The HDMI switch is actually an adaptor with only one HDMI output but with many HDMI inputs. In many regular electronic stores, there are only switches with up to 8 HDMI inputs but usually an HDMI switch with two to five HDMI inputs are used.

With an HDMI switch it is possible to offset missing HDMI ports. The HDMI switch allows that many HDMI connectors can be plugged into various input ports and subsequently, one can be selected from these ports that eventually will be transmitted over the HDMI output. If the television in the living room, for example, has only one HDMI input, but there is also a PlayStation, an Xbox and a DVD player at home, then each device’s HDMI cable has to be re-plugged with the television in order to use it. If an HDMI switch is available then it is possible to connect each of the three devices with one of the HDMI inputs and connect the HDMI output from the HDMI switch with the television and then always select the appropriate port according to which device is used without re-plugging. HDMI switches also include a remote control or automatically switch when a connected device is turned on.

The labelling for the HDMI switch is exactly opposite to the HDMI splitter. A switch with five inputs and one output is called “5 to 1” or “5 x 1” HDMI switch or simply 5 port HDMI switch, where the 5 ports always refer to the input ports.

Bidirectional HDMI Switch

A bidirectional HDMI switch is an HDMI splitter and an HDMI switch in one. It can be used as either an HDMI switch with many inputs and one output, or as one HDMI splitter with one input and many outputs.

HDMI Matrix

An HDMI Matrix can quickly become complex, since it has many HDMI inputs and many HDMI outputs. A 4 x 2 HDMI matrix has for example four input ports and two output ports. The matrix can therefore be used as a switch with two outputs or as a splitter with many inputs and it is not necessary to constantly re-plug the HDMI cable between the monitors. Often, a remote control is included in the delivery with the HDMI matrix, this simplifies switching.