What is an HDMI Switch – What are they used for?

Furqan Shahid
Furqan Shahid
What is an HDMI switch – What are they used for

It should not come as a surprise that over the past couple of years, we have seen a lot of new tech coming. While new tech is always welcome, it often brings a problem that we may have not thought about. For example, when I realised that I am running out of USB ports on the back of my computer, I had to invest in a good USB hub to get access to more USB slots.

A similar situation can happen to those who are using a lot of devices that use HDMI. For instance, you might run out of HDMI slots on your television or display. This can happen when you connect a lot of devices such as audio-video receivers, sound bars, Blu-ray players, consoles, and other compatible devices. This easily takes up almost all the ports and can be an annoying thing to do.

While normally people just go for manually removing and connecting the cables whenever they are looking to use a different device, this solution is not as intuitive and can be annoying. This is where HDMI switches come into place. If you are wondering what is an HDMI switch and you want to learn all about this, you are at the right place as we are going to start discussing some of the things about this switch type and talk about why it is a good thing.

What is an HDMI Switch and What is the Use for One? 

What is an HDMI switch1

So, what exactly is an HDMI switch? To be honest, it is a lot easier to explain than one might think. An HDMI switch is a piece of equipment that lets you use multiple HDMI compatible devices but all the devices that are connected to the TV are done so using a single HDMI cable. I know, it does sound strange but hey, this tech has been around for some time and it does work on the same principle as a USB hub.

So, how does it work? Well, an HDMI switch works by only sending signals from a single source, all of this despite how many sources you connect to the TV. It really does not matter how many devices are trying to send the signal to the TV, if one of the devices that are selected on the switch, the TV will only show that specific device.

Still too complicated? Don’t worry, the process itself can even be easier. One way to figure it out how an HDMI switch works is by thinking about a railway switch that is on a long set of train tracks. Imagine four tracks that lead to a train station and they merge into one as they are moving closer to the platform. A railroad employee has to manually select a track to ensure that it connects to a single line rather than let all three work at the same time and end in an accident. This results in the fact that only the selected train ends up reaching the platform. Just as this switch is used to prevent the accident and ensure that all the trains are safe, and HDMI switch ensures that your transmission is reaching the display the right way.

But Why Do I Need an HDMI Switch?

Now, a lot of time, people ask us about the reasons why they should be going for an HDMI switch and honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. You might not need it but there are people who are going to get their hands on the switch so we are going to take a look at just why one needs a HDMI switch. I am going to tell you about some of the basics so you have a better understanding.

It does not matter if you are a tech enthusiast who is always trying out new gadgets or just an average consumer with a lot of HDMI-powered, it is safe to say that having a good amount of devices is something that is common between both. Sadly, TV manufacturers decide to cut costs when it comes to having HDMI ports that are being offered and this results in consumers running out of available ports.

If you opt for an HDMI switch, it is going to allow you to easily consolidate HDMI compatible devices and allowing you to use a single port. This will also free up other connections for more devices and will definitely rid you of the pain of going behind the TV every time you need to change the connection. The best thing about an HDMI switch is that it is going to allow you to choose the output by selecting the one that you want on your switch. 

However, this is not it. Remember that I told you that the technology has improved? Well, the same goes for HDMI switches as some of the more modern HDMI switches actually have the features that allow you to use a dedicated remote control and as you would expect, you can use these remote controls to switch seamlessly between various HDMI devices with just a push of a button. In addition to that, you also have HDMI switches that are intelligent enough to automatically switch to the most recent active connection, making the process even easier.

Regardless of the type of HDMI switch you decide to go for, having it with you is a great choice because it is only going to make it easier for you to connect more HDMI compliant devices to your television than what you would normally be able to do. So, it is always better not to overlook this.

How to Buy the Right HDMI Switch 

Right HDMI Switch

Now that we know what an HDMI switch is, the next question that comes to mind is just how to buy the right HDMI switch. Honestly, when you are in the market shopping for one, you have to be sure that the switch you are about to put your money in can handle the number of devices you need it to handle. Generally, the idea is to go for a switch capable of handling as many devices as possible. Let’s say you are getting a switch with 5 ports and you only have 3 devices, that way, you will always have a place to set more devices if you want to.

It is also important to know that you should always be going for an HDMI switch that can support your TV’s resolution with ease and without any complications that might come in the way. For starters, it would make absolutely no sense for you to spend money on an HDMI switch that has 1080p resolution and supports HDMI 1.4 when you own a 4K TV that has HDMI 2.0 support. In such cases, you are going to run into a poorer image quality and more issues down that road.

Aside from that, I would also suggest that you consider the budget before you start going for these switches. Why am I suggesting that? Well, it is rather simple, to be honest. You do not want spending money on a switch which is only going to complicate things for you in a way of how it works. Imagine spending a good chunk of money on a switch only to realise that it is not really going to do the job the right way.

Last but not the least, we will always suggest that you are looking for extra features that are going to help you. For starters, you should be looking for features such as automatic switching or at least a remote control that will allow you to switch between HDMI devices with ease and without having to ever get up from the couch.

I Found an HDMI Splitter — Is it Different? 

A lot of the times, you might run into an HDMI splitter and now the sad thing is that many people are under the assumption that these splitters are same as the switches but that is not the case at all. HDMI switches are inherently different than the splitters.

For instance, an HDMI switch allows you to “switch” between multiple HDMI sources that you have connected to a single device. An HDMI splitter is used when you want to split one image source across various displays. For instance, if you want a single PS4 or a PS5 to display on multiple TVs, you would need to connect the console to the HDMI splitter and then have the cables running from the splitter to the TVs you want to connect it to.


There you have it, folks. The purpose of this guide was to help those burning with the question “what is an HDMI switch” Here is hoping that with this guide, you are fully able to understand what you should be spending money on whenever you are in the market.

Remember, buying the right HDMI switch is always important. One more thing that you should keep in mind is that if you do not want a switch, you do not have to go for it but this guide covers everything one should know.

Furqan Shahid

I have been gaming for almost 24 years with extensive knowledge of all platforms and the gaming industry, in general. With interests in literature, art, gaming, and PC hardware.

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