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What is HDMI Splitter / Switch – Types, How it Works, Why to Use

HDMI Splitter is one of the essential electronics to have at home. Being an electronic world, every demonstration can be done with projectors, laptops or big screens, etc in the workplace. Similarly while enjoying family time with the home theatre or casting different video clips on multiple output devices. All these can be done for a single device at once.

But if we want to replicate the same video in two or more devices at the same moment, then we need to use an external HDMI cord which is nothing but an HDMI Splitter. Yes, an HDMI Splitter is an enhancement of technology that allows audiovisual data from a single source to two receivers at the same moment regardless of the size of the cable. Let us explore more about what is an HDMI Splitter and how to use it.

What is an HDMI Splitter?

It is an external device that receives a signal from the source and then splits it into two or more identical signals. These signals were sent to receivers to display the same content. Simply we can say that a single input can replicate and produce multiple outputs. Here some HDMI Splitters can produce only two outputs and some others may replicate the audio-video files on multiple receivers. For instance, in the below-given figure a, the history of my splitter has one input and 4 output ports. It can be read as history and my splitter one by four. It is mentioned as 1*4.

1 in 4 HDMI splitter

   Fig a: 1 in 4 HDMI Splitter

Likewise, we have 1*2,1*8,1*16 HDMI Splitters based on the number of ports. Among all the three external devices of HDMI, HDMI Splitters are the simplest form. The other two are HDMI switches and HDMI matrices.

  • The HDMI switch is another tool that completely works in contrast to the HDMI Splitter. It collects audio video files from multiple input sources and the managers transmit them into a single output device.
  • HDMI matrix is the enhancement of both tools. It combines the functions of both the HDMI splitters and HDMI switches to perform any kind of function according to the user.

Types of HDMI Splitters

Considering the function, HDMI splitters are classified into two different types based on their availability. Depending on the nature of the requirement, users can choose the best-fitting option. They are –

HDMI Cable Splitter:-

These are widely used in a model and it simply takes an input signal from the source and splits it into two identical signals and sends them to the receivers. It is also known as passive HDMI Splitters.

Passive HDMI splitter

                                              Fig b: Passive HDMI Splitter

Network Cable Splitter:-

These splitters are ideal for applications that run longer distances. Cat 5E or Cat 6 Cables were used to send signals to long-distance routes. In other words, we can say that the HDMI Splitters can use some additional power while splitting an input signal into multiple outputs to prevent minor losses. These are also known as active HDMI Splitters.

Active HDMI splitter

                                                      Fig c: Active HDMI Splitter

How to Use an HDMI Splitter

As the HDMI Splitter serves best and saves our time, we should prefer to buy it. After buying, the first question that arises is how to install this splitter. You will be happy to know that the installation of an HDMI Splitter is just a cakewalk. It is one of the straightforward processes to install and use. In other words, you can say that an HDMI Splitter (normally) is a Plug and Play device.

Still, for your convenience, let’s have a glance at the steps involved in this procedure. Let’s assume we want to play the recorded PowerPoint presentation from a laptop to a projector and television at once to give a seminar.

  • First, we need to connect one end or input port of the HDMI Splitter to the laptop.
  • Then take the output ports and connect them to a projector and television.
  • Based on the distance, we need to provide some external power.
  • Finally, the HDMI Splitter runs the video from input to output devices.

Setup HDMI splitter

                                          Fig d: Setting up of HDMI Splitter

Based on the length of the wire, distance, the number of receivers, etc, the setup may change slightly. And the selection of the type of HDMI Splitter is up to the user based on requirements.

Why We Use HDMI Splitter?

We may have different reasons to use, based on various scenarios. Some of them are listed below-

  • If we want to cast a movie from a laptop to various televisions at home.
  • If we want to deliver a seminar from a laptop to multiple projectors at the office.
  • If we want to display audio video files from the office room to various classrooms in a school.
  • If we want to replicate the video from an input device to both a TV and a projector.
  • While explaining the project details from a source monitor to multiple employee monitors.

Prerequisites While Choosing an HDMI Splitter

Though the purpose of all HDMI Splitters is the same, we have multiple options in the market. So selection of the best-fitting model is also crucial based on our necessity. Let’s make a note of considerable things while choosing it.

  1. The number of output Ports:- if we require to cast video in two devices, then we opt for two ports for the HDMI splitter. Based on the necessity, we need to check the number of output ports while purchasing a splitter.
  2. Active or Passive:- If we need to telecast to a long distance and with multiple outputs, then it is advisable to opt for active splitters that need additional power feed. If not, go for passive HDMI Splitters for normal use.
  3. Audio Formats:- Based on the available devices, we need to check the compatibility of the HDMI splitter. If it does not support the device, then it is useless to us.
  4. Versions:- Different versions of HDMI Splitters may support different devices. Let’s say, HDMI 1.4 helps the Audio Return Channel (ARC), HDMI 2.0 offers 4K Ultra HD video resolutions, and so on.
  5. EDID/HDCP:- these are two different commands. Based on their functionality, we can opt for them for our needs. For instance, with the support of HDCP, the task can be done faster and smoother.

These are some of the checkpoints while purchasing it. It is always good to understand our requirements properly and then proceed to buy any kind of gadget.

Advantages of HDMI Splitter

Due to its features and functionalities, users get several benefits. Some of them are –

  • It is quite affordable and anyone can buy it.
  • Various types of HDMI Splitters can fulfill various needs of the users.
  • It supports the HDCP 1.4 protocol also.
  • Availability of multiple resolutions like 4K@30Hz, 1080p@120Hz, and for 3D, we have 1080p@60Hz.
  • Besides Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, DTS, Dolby AC3,7.1-channel LPCM, and DSD, etc  HDMI splitters support.
  • Crystal clear audio and video quality with active splitters even for long distances.

Bottom Lines

Hence the HDMI splitter is a tool used to cast audio and video files from an input source to two or more output devices at once. These are of different types and models. We have plenty of options to choose from according to our requirements. The installation process is quite simple and can be straightforward. By checking some considerable points, we can choose the best one after understanding the need only. It is not so expensive. A small device at an affordable price can fit multiple purposes at home and work environment as well.

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Chakrasthitha is a B.E (Medical Electronics) and has work experience in MatLab and Lab View Software as Design Engineer at BCS innovations and Manipal hospital as Biomedical Engineer. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.


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