transition to HDTV has reached a tipping point, at which nearly all
manufacturers are gravitating towards products that support digital and
higher definition video. As the number of products increase, most
consumers will bump into lack of inputs for all their equipment. A
typical home entertainment system that consists of devices such as DVD Players, HD Cable and
Satellite set-top-boxes, game consoles, as well as the increasing use of
Scalers, Media Streamers, and Home Theater PCs.
Many consumers have come to expect their A/V
Receiver handle the task of switching, but often lack
receivers that can switch high-definition (720p/1080i) video. The
dominance of HDMI/HDCP and 1080p in HDTV technology is quickly
changing the needs of a typical consumer. Shown below is a basic
configuration using a switcher.
Video Connection Chart
Quick overview of the video glossary gets you up to the
speed. Below are connection types used for High Definition (HDTV)
video found on back of most TV sets and the
to TV manual for compatibility and range
The most common video source for HDTV is component video, owing its
popularity to legacy of being conceived earliest in the HD
transition. There are many choices as well as flavors of Component
switchers with models that also feature scaling or distributing to TVs
in multiple locations.
Switchers allows for multiple displays with multiple sources, all with
individual control, perfect for centralization of your A/v gear and
flexibility of use. Matrix Switchers are ideal for commercial
locations such as bars and restaurants or professional video
environments. Wiring used can be analog audio/video or CAT5 baluns
of Component Switchers
developments in technology as well as adoption of copy protection
schemes have spawned an increasing number of digital sources such as HD
cable and satellite boxes as well as DVD Players and high-performance
gaming consoles. Digital signals pose its own set of standards
that must require different approach as used in transmission of analog
video. First and foremost, remember that the cables are carrying
data streams needs to be free of errors. When errors are
introduced in the data stream, the result in digital image is often
"sparkles", or random firing of specific colored
The most common
and misunderstood topic is the use of HDCP, the copy
protection scheme for high-definition encrypted content.
Some older DVI based systems are not HDCP compliant and therefore cannot
be used with any device that outputs encrypted HDCP signals.
Consult your manual before you pull the trigger.
of all digital signal products correlate to the resolution and
distance. Fiber Optic cables ensure perfect 1080p transmission that is within the bandwidth of a single-link (1.65Gbps)
at further than 50 ft. (up to 900 Meter) in distance. While
still very rare, wireless HDMI systems are available.
of DVI Switchers
of HDMI Switchers
switchers are designed to double as distributors but with the added
function of individual control for the multiple input/output.
Matrix switching is available in both analog and digital flavors, click
here for more information.
Features and Options
can be the ideal solution when automation is integrated into your
entertainment system. There are several control system interfaces
as listed below. Companion audio switching is another popular
feature for learning remote use. Below are list of features to
look for in your choice of switchers.
- Auto-sensing switches poll for active signal which triggers the
switching function. To optimize how this works, a priority
sequence is also used to allow two devices to be powered up in a
Controlled - An IR port present with or without remote can be the
lowest common denominator in the automation system, better combined with
hard wired front panel push button.
- The preferred interface for high level control, RS-232 is used for
complex automation commands that control macro laden programming.
Whole house systems such as AMX, Crestron, as well as a whole new legion
of automation pioneers appearing on the market ushers in more
competitive pricing in the control arena.
Switching - Companion audio switching helps to ease the automation
programming allowing both to be done simultaneously. Sometimes
overlooked, and one of the more useful features is the presence of both
analog and digital audio options, especially in a home with children or
casual users that should be kept away from high end media systems.
Analog audio allows the use of speakers in a TV for casual watching or
Distribution- Few switchers, often a multiple output matrix units
offer amplification for distribution of A/V signals that require long
Scaling - Video processing or scaling is often done in the display,
but many enthusiasts add external scalers that often improve the image
quality, especially in digital panels that require more precise
resolution controls for non-standard native pixel grids. Many
scalers function as switchers as more manufacturers introduce products
that accept multiple digital sources (DVI or HDMI).
that a product delivers as advertised, we at Digital Connection make it
a mission to test and rate products sold on our site. Products that perform at the
frequencies are labeled with 1080P-Ready symbol for the highest