DVI & HDMI input switching options

May 23, 2005

Gefen 4x1 HD switcherWith notable few exceptions (the Marantz SR-8500 and Denon AVR-5805 come to mind) DVI and HDMI input switching on audio video receivers remains conspicuously absent, as to the whys and wherefores it boils down the standard lack of interest from a majority of prospective buyers, and the cost associated with moving away from the component switching model.

That said there are however a few things home theater buffs should be aware when it comes to DVI and HDMI connections, but before that know that HDMI is essentially DVI with a digital audio carrier on the same line. Anyway back to my point, and its one that may leave quite a few legacy HDTV owners with a sour face.

It’s extremely unlikely that either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD will support component video outputs at full HD resolutions, if included at all; the outputs will likely go no higher than 480p. The current digital rights management consortium just isn’t willing to allow what in essence equates to high definition masters out-in-the-wild, without some sort of HDCP (high-bandwidth digital-content protection).

So there you have it, many of those high definition early adopters (component video only) may be left out in the cold on two fronts, not only will their displays not work with Blu-Ray or HD-DVD at full resolution, the surround receiver they bought in the last few years wouldn’t handle DVI or HDMI switching if they could. Cheer up though; there are solutions for at least one of the problems.

While it’s unlikely that anyone will ever devise a component to DVI adaptor (the very premise flies in the face of the connections purpose) there are solutions for the switching of DVI and HDMI. For some time I’ve been using the Gefen 2×1 HDTV Switcher, it’s been a lifesaver. My projector only has one DVI input and I have two DVI devices. In short the Gefen switchers simply take 2 (or 4) DVI or HDMI inputs and then output them via one cable to your display device. The handy part is that the Gefen switchers come with an Infra-Red remote, that can be learned into your existing universal remote, making the ‘switch’ seamless on the user end.

Not to rest on their laurels, Gefen has upped the ante with the introduction of digital audio switching alongside the video on some models. Both the 2×1 HDTV Digital Audio Switcher and the 4×1 HDTV Digital Audio Switcher, offer coaxial and optical digital audio switching, in addition to their respective methods of DVI/HDMI video switching.

Granted neither one of these solutions could be described as “cheap” but if you compare their price with that of a new video switching surround receiver, the price starts to sting a little less. Back to the subject of DVI and HDMI in general, I’ve already started steering my clients away from any device with component video out as its only hi-def connection.

The lack of component support on Blu-ray and HD-DVD alone warrant this, but as I’ve already experience in my system, it just plain looks better to boot.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under HDTV Equipment