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If you have a home theater or entertainment setup with multiple sources and display devices like game consoles, streaming boxes, and projectors, it can be hard to manage in terms of cables and switching devices. Fortunately, an HDMI switcher can help you add more inputs to your TV or AV receiver if you have too many devices to manage. Essentially, a HDMI switcher can take multiple source devices and send them to one or more display devices, cutting down on the clutter of cables. Some are rated for 1080p, while others can support 4K content along with features like HDR, Dolby Vision, Atmos, DTS:X and other video and audio formats.
Read on to find the best HDMI switchers for any use.
Five HDMI inputs
4K 60fps support
Infrared remote included
No picture-in-picture mode
The Kinivo 550BN is the king of affordable (and reliable) HDMI switchers. With five high-speed HDMI ports, one output, and a compact, utilitarian design, it's easy to see why it's so attractive. While earlier iterations of this unobtrusive, competitively-priced switcher didn't feature 4K support, the latest version is a significant upgrade, offering 4K video at a crisp 30 or 60 frames per second (FPS). That makes it ideal for both video game consoles and physical media players, especially if you’re looking for something to use for a Blu-ray player that supports 4K discs.
Though there's an included infrared (IR) remote to swap between HDMI inputs, the 550BN can also switch automatically to an active input, which removes one potentially confusing element from the equation: Which input refers to what? Our reviewer especially liked that there was no need to memorize arbitrary HDMI numbers with the 550BN. Thanks to its wide array of features, excellent visual fidelity, and auto-switching abilities, the 550BN is one of the best options for power users and beginners alike.
"This little switcher is packed with features. It displays up to 4K at 60Hz, can output from up to five devices, and has automatic switching." — Emily Ramirez, Product Tester
Four HDMI inputs
No integrated splitter
Another smartly-priced option, the Zettaguard True 4K 4x1 is best for those craving an easy swap between devices. At less than an inch thick and less than five inches wide, it's small enough to tuck away out of sight and its design is restrained enough to blend into predominantly dark entertainment hubs. On the back, you'll see four separate inputs, as well as one output; on the front, lighting above each port indicates which one is currently in use. To swap between inputs, you can use the included wireless infrared remote, which also lets you alter PIP options on the fly, all from the comfort of your sofa.
Our reviewer thought that one intriguing facet of the Zettaguard is its picture-in-picture (PIP) mode, which allows you to not only view another HDMI source on a tiny window in the corner of your screen but also seamlessly toggle between the two. For practiced multitaskers, this comes in handy. With 4K, 2K, and 3D video output support, this particular hub is a cheap, utilitarian HDMI switcher that can handle just about anything you throw at it.
"The Zettaguard is thoughtfully designed with ports in the back of its solid aluminum case to mitigate the nightmare of modern cable management." — Emily Ramirez, Product Tester
Supports 4K at 60Hz
More inputs than rivals
Only outputs to one source
An HDMI switch doesn't have to break the bank. The Newcare HDMI Switch 3-in-1 is highly affordable, with a price that typically ranges from $15-20. Unlike similarly priced options like the Techole 4K Splitter, it supports three input sources, all at 4K/60Hz. It can also downscale for 1080p and lower resolutions,
Using it is simple, with a button on top of the HDMI box to let you switch input sources. They're identified by an LED indicator so you know which one is in use. You'll be hard pressed to find a similar set of features for the price, though be aware that features like HDR, Dolby Vision, and Atmos aren't supported.
Four input devices and two output
Supports 4K HDR at 60Hz
Can handle Dolby Digital, DTS, 5.1, and 7.1
Solid metal construction
Ports can get a little cramped
Cable Matters is one of the better known brands among HDMI switches, and for good reason. The HDMI switch comes in a durable metal box with gold-plated HDMI ports. It looks sleek and stylish, unlike the black plastic boxes that make up most other switchers. In terms of ports, you get four input HDMI devices and two output, which should be enough to handle consoles, streaming boxes, Blu-ray players, and other devices.
All the other features you could hope for are here too. The HDMI switch supports HDR, can handle 4K and 1080p content, and supports most popular audio formations like Dolby Digital, DTS, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, and has a 3.5mm jack and optical port to connect to a soundbar or receiver. There's also a remote, so you don't have to get up to switch inputs.
Auto signal source detection
Four screen sizes for second picture
No 4K support
The Orei HD-201P 2 x1 High-Speed HDMI Switcher delivers professional quality picture and sound with no signal loss. It automatically detects and switches to the active signal making it convenient to use, and it supports multiple video types including 1080i, 1080p, 720p, 1024x768, 1360x768, Audio format PCM2, 5.1, 7.1 CH, Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1. But, the real advantage of this HDMI switcher is its advanced picture-in-picture (PIP) feature that allows you to output two sources on a single screen.
Unlike many other HDMI switchers, this 2.8 x 5.5 x 1-inch model gives you the option to choose from four different screen sizes for the second picture. Choose anything from a half-and-half screen with two widescreen images displayed side-by-side to a small image that can be tucked into any corner. With no lag or delay in the PIP output, the HDMI switcher allows you to keep up with two games at once or follow exciting political races while still watching your favorite show.
Plenty of input ports
Supports 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, and HDR 10
Supports Dolby Digital 7.1, Atmos, and DTS:X
4K upscaling and downscaling
Loses signal with some TVs
The EZCOOTECH is one of the best fully-featured 4K HDMI switchers you can get. The HDMI Matrix supports 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, and HDR10 to cover all its bases for best image quality. There's also Dolby Digital 7.1, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X for audio. You can plug in four HDMI sources to two displays, letting you connect multiples consoles, streaming devices, and other hardware to two displays. This is particularly useful for gamers who might be running a dual PC streaming setup.
On top of that, the HDMI 2.0 standard means you get 4K at 60Hz, resulting and smooth and satisfying games and media. The switcher can also downscale 4K content to 1080p, and vice versa, allowing both to play together. Input lag is minimal, and you get an IR remote so you can control it from the couch.
4K UHD and 3D picture support
Dolby Atmos passthrough
No auto detect
No remote control
For anyone who has the basics of a home theater set-up, the Insignia three-port HDMI switch box is the ideal choice. With three HDMI inputs, you can connect your cable or satellite box, streaming device, Blu-ray player, or DVD player without having a tangled mess of cables running to your TV. It has full support for both 1080p HD and 4K UHD resolution movies and shows; it even supports 3D movies for a more immersive viewing experience.
The top of the unit features a single, large selector button to make choosing the correct input a breeze. The front has LED indicator lights to let you know which port is in use. If you're an audiophile, this unit has both support for Dolby DTS audio and passthrough for Dolby Atmos-enabled devices so you always get crystal clear and clean audio. The compact design lets you tuck the switch box out of sight to keep your set-up looking neat. Insignia backs this model with a one year warranty to cover manufacturing defects and DOA units.
3D picture and 4K UHD support
Aluminum alloy input ports
Only two input ports
If you don't have many media devices or game consoles to connect to your TV and you don't want to spend a fortune for a great HDMI switch, check out the Techole 4K HDMI Splitter. This unit has a price tag that sits under $10, so it fits all but the absolute tightest of budgets. You can connect two devices via the HDMI inputs for an easy way to switch back and forth between them. The inputs are made of an aluminum alloy for durability and to support data transfer speeds up to 10.2Gbps so you get a great picture and sound time after time.
The top of the unit features a single push button to let you quickly and easily select the input you'd like to use. This switch box supports 3D picture, 4K UHD resolution, 2K resolution, and HD audio so you can be sure it will work with almost all of your favorite devices and game consoles. With plug-and-play functionality, you won't have to worry about software updates or downloading any extra drivers to use the switch box.
A great switcher with some caveats.
For $45, the Kinivo five input 4K/60Hz switch is a solid purchase. If you only need three or four inputs, however, it is worth looking at the competition, which is often cheaper and in some cases more fully featured. For those that do prize the five inputs, the Kinivo switch performs cleanly and reliably, but it may cause some cable management headaches.
Taylor Clemons has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics for over three years. She has also worked in e-commerce product management, so she has the knowledge of what makes a solid HDMI switch box for home entertainment.
Emily Ramirez has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She's previously written for the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute and MIT Game Lab, and has a background in narrative design and media. She's very family with games, TV, and audio devices, and particularly liked the Knivo 550BN for its five high-speed HDMI ports and reliability.
By Robert Silva
HDMI is the most common audio/video connection in use. However, TVs may have as few as one or two, or at most, three or four HDMI inputs.
If you have a lot of HDMI-equipped source devices, such as an upscaling DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray player, cable/satellite box, media streamer, and game console that all need to be connected to your TV, there may not be enough HDMI inputs, but don't panic.
Instead of buying a new TV just to get more HDMI inputs, consider getting an external HDMI switcher to fill the gap.
An HDMI switcher may also be referred to as an HDMI hub.
An HDMI switcher is a device that expands the number of HDMI sources you can connect to your TV (or video projector). The number of HDMI inputs on a switcher may range from 2 to 8.
Just connect your source(s) to the switcher's HDMI inputs and connect the switcher's HDMI output to your TV or video projector.
Some switchers have two HDMI outputs. This allows the connection of the same source to two video displays (such as two TVs or a TV and video projector) or separate sources to each video display (an HDMI switcher with this capability is usually referred to as a Matrix Switcher).
On HDMI switchers with two HDMI outputs that send the same video signal to two video displays, if one of the displays has a lower resolution (e.g. one is 720p and the other is 1080p, or one is 1080p and the other is 4K), the output from the switcher may default the lower of the two resolutions for both displays.
HDMI switchers plug into AC power and usually come with remote control for more convenient source selection. Some HDMI switchers also incorporate HDMI-CEC support, which allows the switcher to automatically go to the correct input of the most recently activated device.
Another HDMI switcher option combines both wired and wireless connectivity. There are several that will accept two or more HDMI sources, but on the output side, may include both a physical HDMI output, as well as wireless transmission to one, or more wireless receivers than use an HDMI output to connect to a video display. This solution is one way to reduce HDMI cable clutter over a longer distance. However, just as with wired switchers, the wireless transmission feature needs to support the video and audio capabilities (resolution, formats) that you require.
Don't need an HDMI switcher, but want to send the same HDMI signal to two TVs or a video projector and TV? As mentioned above, you can use an HDMI switcher with two HDMI outputs, but if you don't need a switcher, you can use an HDMI splitter.
HDMI splitters that send two, three, four, or more signals from a single HDMI source are available, but for consumers, two is usually enough. Splitters with more outputs are mostly for business and commercial use where one source needs to be sent to multiple TVs or projectors.
Splitters can be powered or passive (no power needed). It is best to use powered splitters to avoid handshake or signal loss issues. The splitter also has to be compatible with the video and audio signals you may need to pass-through. Just as with a switcher, if one video display device is a lower resolution than the other, the output for both may default to the lower resolution.
Another option to consider that can add more HDMI inputs for TV viewing sources is a home theater receiver.
Low-priced home theater receivers usually provide four HDMI inputs, but as you go up in price, you will find receivers with up to six or eight HDMI inputs along with two or three outputs which allow you to connect to more than one TV or a TV and video projector similar to a splitter.