HDMI Switch vs HDMI Splitter

HDMI switch toggles between one output signal to another. For example, let’s say that there are two devices connected to a Switch. For the sake of simplicity, let’s name them X and Y. With the switch, you can toggle from one output signal to another, making sure that the 100% signal transfers between the two devices. For the HDMI splitter, as the name suggests, the output signal is divided into multiple signals traveling across multiple devices. This may reduce the overall quality of the audio and video to each device.

I have inserted this picture as a reference. Helps a lot in understanding the short answer above.

HDMI switch vs HDMI splitter
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Well, it’s true that the key concept behind HDMI switch vs HDMI splitter is quite easy when you know the differences, but at times, people are unable to make rational decisions, hence compromising the overall quality of the output signal. That’s why, today, I will be talking about the differences between the two and what exactly you should root for depending on the usage.

First things first, you don’t need to worry about the price tag. Both are immensely cheap, which means, none of them would be taking a toll on your savings. My first preference will always be an HDMI switch due to its cross-compatibility and full signal strength, but at the end of the day, it’s you who will be making a choice.

HDMI SPLITTER

HDMI SPLITTER

What exactly is an HDMI splitter? [detailed explanation]

The key term here is a splitter. When considering its dictionary meaning, it all boils down to something being split between a multitude of references. The same meaning can be applied over an HDMI splitter. The splitter allows you to connect one HDMI input and split it into multiple outputs.

This is best suited for those who are looking forward to not investing in more than one HDMI input. To be honest, it saves you a decent number of bucks and also gets the job done.

Not to mention, these splitters tend to work on their accord, and at times, the ability to transfigure the transmitted data in the best possible way is hampered; thus, the need for the HDMI switches. Don’t worry; we’ll talk about how switches tend to be better than the splitters, so stay tuned. It’s worth mentioning that if you intend to use the HDMI connection over an extended range, then splitter is what you should be rooting for.

How are connections channeled through the HDMI splitter?

Well, I believe you really need to know how these splitters work in general, and that’s why I’ll be talking about the actual process and how the quality of the data can be minimized. Let’s assume you have two TV sets in your house: one that supports 4k and the other that runs on 1080P resolution. Now, you want to split the connection or, let’s say, duplicate the signals to power on both the TVs. What do you think will happen, considering that both the monitors have different native resolutions?

The quick answer is 1080p. Why? These splitters will not scale down the resolution for you or change it. In reality, they’ll take the least consuming route, which is definitely 1080P here, stripping off the 4K functionality from one of the TVs. This means that even though your TV supports 4k, it won’t be functioning on it if you are using an HDMI splitter in conjunction with a 1080P fixed TV.

Although it’s true that you can power on a multitude of devices, it comes at a cost. Not to mention, if you are really invested in buying a splitter, then make sure to get a one with “HDCP” labeled. In short, it’s “handshaking” and is preferred over traditional splitters. You don’t need to go in-depth about how handshaking works, so yeah, you are good to go.

Labeling for ease

There’s one more issue regarding reading labels. These splitters tend to have labels on them like “4 x 1”. What on Earth does this mean? Basically, this label shows that you can power on 4 devices with 1 input. In other words, 4 outputs from 1 input. You will also come across splitters that have a “4 x 2” label. This means that you would need two inputs to power on 4 devices.

I would always recommend you to go for those labels that have “Y x 1” (Y can be any number) because this will only require you to give a single input, whereas any other number than one will increment the number of inputs required.

HDMI SWITCH

HDMI SWITCH

The term “HDMI switch” is self-explanatory, yet people are unable to understand how to use the device. The switch comprises multiple ports. With these ports, you can connect a myriad of devices, powering them on simultaneously. The best part about HDMI switches is that the connection power or the signal strength remains the same for each device. Not to mention, at times, the signal is also amplified to minimize any noise power or attenuation. This all process happens inside the switch, which means you don’t have to rely on external devices to amplify your broken signals.

How are connections channeled through the HDMI switch?

For simplicity, I’ll keep it short. Basically, there’s one input, and could be many depending on the type of switch you have. You connect multiple devices to the ports (it’s labeled) and turn on the switch. Voila, all of your devices are display productive now. Let me also mention that with the switch, you can run Xbox, PlayStation, and any device that has HDMI compatibility and directly project the image on a single television. In other words, if you are tired of playing PlayStation, simply switch to Xbox, which is directly connected to the switch, and bingo, the Xbox is projecting images without you having to do swaps.

Types of HDMI switches

The best part about having an HDMI switch is that you are blessed with its revision series. For example, HDMI 1.4 is better than HDMI 1.3. Not to mention, HDMI 2.2 is way better than HDMI 2.0. This goes on until you hit a point of no return. In layman’s terms, the point where all the fundamental changes have been done, and as a product, you get perfection. The switches come in a plethora of revision series, and all of them are able to run 4K. As for the 8K, you need to wait because the companies are still tweaking the switch compatibility with the 8K resolution.

It’s always better to look out for advanced HDMI switches because they give you an option to expand further in terms of performance.

Labeling

A lot of people get confused because, at times, labels do not make sense if you are not well versed in mathematics. Let’s say an HDMI switch has a label of “4 x 1”. What does that mean? Basically, you can connect 4 devices and receive 4 outputs on just a single input. These labels are similar to that of HDMI splitters, but the key difference is the signal strength.  In splitters, the signal is divided, but in switches, it’s not. You get 100% signal strength across all the connected devices on the HDMI switch.

Final words

So, what’s the catch? What should you go for? My first preference and recommendation will always be HDMI switches. They are profound and magnificent in terms of performance. For what it’s worth, you get the best out of these switches because the signal strength remains the same. Thus, the borderline conclusion is that whenever possible, you should go for HDMI switches as they offer you a lot of options for expandability.