Clarifying The Names – HDMI Switch v.s. Splitters v.s. Matrix v.s. Adapter

Saturday, August 14th, 2010 at 17:37

The first time I wanted to hook up my Xbox360, HTPC and Blu-ray player to my old HDTV which had only 1 HDMI port left, I didn’t know what device I should be looking for. I know what I want it to do for me, but I don’t know how to call it for me to google it. To be honest, I came up with “HDMI hub”, which I borrowed from a network hub which could split network signals for multiple computers. I was also thinking of “HDMI adapter” and “HDMI splitter”. Unfortunately, none of them were the popular names.

Such a product is actually commonly called an HDMI switch or HDMI switcher. Of course, there is no official name for it, but there are names more commonly used than others by the majority of the users. So knowing the right names help you research them better and find better prices before you decide to buy one.

After reading this article, you will get a much clearer picture of the common names of the many HDMI gadgets and what they do.

1. HDMI Switch, HDMI Switcher, HDMI Selector
They are the names of an HDMI input switch, which receives signals from multiple HD devices, and output to only 1 HDMI port on an HDTV, monitor or projector. This is what you need when you want to hook up all your PS3, BluRay, HD PVR, etc all to a single HDMI port on your HDTV because your HDTV has only 1 port left.

A 3×1 or 3 port HDMI switch receives 3 HDMI signals and outputs to 1 port. So on and so forth.

Although they are also sometimes labeled as “HDMI splitters”, they should not be, because they don’t split signals but rather they converges signals into 1 port.

2. HDMI Splitter or HDMI Amplifier
In contrast, they are the names of an HDMI output switch, which receives signals from just 1 HD device and outputs to 2 or more HDTVs or monitors. This is what you need when you want to output the same HD signal to 2 or more HDTVs. In a sense, they split or amplify the signals into multiple streams, hence the names.

A 1×2 or 2 port HDMI splitter receives HD signal from 1 device and outputs to 2 screens.

3. HDMI Matrix or HDMI Distributor
They are combining the functions of input and output switches, they receive multiple HD signals and output to multiple displays. They are rarely used by average consumers but more commonly used by electronics stores or exhibition hosts who need to display many screens simultaneously with HD signals coming from several devices.

A 4×2 HDMI matrix receives HD signals from 4 input sources and output to 2 HDTVs.

4. HDMI Adapter or HDMI Converter
These are very general names, which, however, usually mean a much simpler device that connects HDMI port to another video port such as a VGA or DVI port.

An HDMI to DVI adapter means it receives HD signals from an HDMI port and outputs to a DVI port.


So how can you find the right product you need? Try these simple recommended keywords when you are doing your research:

HDMI Switch: Connecting multiple HD devices to 1 HDMI port on your HDTV.
HDMI Splitter: Connecting 1 HD device to 2 or more HDTVs.
HDMI Matrix: Connecting multiple HD devices to multiple HDTVs.
HDMI Adapter: Connecting HDMI port to another type of video port.

Now that you know the magic words, it will be much easier for you to find your desired HDMI gadgets, enjoy.

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