How Many HDMI Inputs Do I Want on an HDTV?

You may need more HDMI inputs than you realize

HDMI cable
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High-Definition Media Interface (HDMI) delivers high-speed uncompressed digital audio and video signals to an HDTV, which makes the whole viewing experience the best it can be. HDMI is the preferred connection method to use when connecting a Blu-ray Disc player, gaming system, or cable or satellite set-top box to your HDTV.

It’s important to consider the number of HDMI inputs you need when you buy a new HDTV.

How Many HDMI Inputs Do You Need?

The different types of inputs have grown smaller on modern HDTVs. Most connections are HDMI now. Before you shop for a TV, count the number of devices you plan to connect to it and then buy a TV with that many HDMI connections plus one or two for expansion.

In most cases, you should look for an HDTV that has three or more HDMI inputs. No matter the specific setup, the number of HDMI inputs should at least equal the number of devices you have. You don't want to spend time switching devices on and off an HDMI connection.

Having only one HDMI connection limits your options severely. If you have an incoming cable or satellite set-top box, you use the single HDMI input for the best quality picture. Anything else you want to connect to the TV has to connect by a different method that offers inferior performance. Although you can buy an HDMI splitter or switch, some switches cause a slight syncing issue with the video and audio. A direct connection is much preferred.

Two HDMI inputs are better than one, but with the number of devices on the market that use HDMI connections, having only two connections eventually puts you in the same boat as having only one input—either not using HDMI when you should or buying an HDMI switcher.

Three or more HDMI inputs allow you to connect three or more components to the HDTV with HDMI cables—a video game system, Blu-ray Disc player, and cable or satellite set-top box, for example. If you use an HDMI stick or box to give your TV access to streaming content and apps, you'll need an HDMI port for it, as well as one for any HDMI speakers for your home entertainment center. Make a list of your HDMI devices and check it twice before you shop.

Other HDMI Buying Advice

Consider buying an HDTV that has a side HDMI input, which is a useful interface to have when you connect an HDMI digital video camcorder to the TV. It is also convenient when you mount your new TV on the wall, which makes the ports on the back of the TV difficult to reach.