Best HDMI Switchers - Hubs and Splitters for 4K and HD
We plugged 4K and regular HD sources into 10 HDMI switchers to determine which is the easiest to use and has the best features. We connected each model to an Ultra HD Blu-ray, an Apple TV, a Chromecast Ultra, a smartphone, and a laptop. The J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301 is the best HDMI switcher we tested because it supports resolutions up to 4K, the auto-switching works well, and it switches quickly between sources – under 3 seconds. During our testing, it took less than three seconds to smoothly switch between sources, and the HDMI sources worked seamlessly.
J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301
The J-Tech Digital unit switched seamlessly and quickly between our test devices and supports resolutions up to 4K. The remote works perfectly, and it also includes the ability to toggle auto-switching.
The Fosmon HD1832 is our budget pick because it worked with most of our test HDMI peripherals and costs under $15. This is the most cost-effective way to add more HDMI ports to your TV.
If you want to hide your HDMI switcher behind your TV, the Masscool MA103 comes with an external IR sensor so you can control it even if the device itself isn’t in view. This switcher worked with all our test devices and supports resolutions up to 1080p.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Switching Capabilities||Compatibility||Design||Help & Support||Switching Time (seconds)||Auto Switch||Number of Ports||External IR Sensor||Weight (oz)||Power Supply Needed||Remote Score||Maximum Resolution||HDCP Version||Compatibility Test||3D Support||HDMI Version||Warranty||Email, Chat, Phone Support Available||FAQs|
|J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301||View Deal||4.5/5||9||9.5||10||10||2.4||✓||3||4||✓||A+||4K||HDCP 1.4||A-||✓||HDMI 1.4b||1 Year||Phone, Email|
|Kinivo 501BN||View Deal||4.5/5||8.5||10||8||10||0.03||✓||5||4.1||✓||B-||1080p||HDCP 1.2||A+||✓||HDMI 1.3||1 Year||Phone, Email|
|Masscool HS-MA103||View Deal||4.5/5||9.3||9||7.5||10||2.3||✓||3||✓||1.8||C-||1080p||Compliant||B-||✓||HDMI 1.3b||1 Year||Phone, Email||✓|
|Orei HD-501||View Deal||4.5/5||10||7.8||6.3||10||1.5||✓||5||10.5||D||4K||Compliant||D||✓||HDMI 1.4a||1 Year||✓|
|Fosmon HD1832||View Deal||4/5||9.5||7.5||6.5||10||0.02||✓||5||✓||1.7||D||1080p||HDCP 1.1||D||✓||HDMI 1.3b||1 Year|
|Sewell SW-28818||View Deal||4/5||9.3||7.5||6.5||10||2.2||✓||3||✓||1.8||D||1080p||Compliant||D||✓||HDMI 1.3b||1 Year||✓||✓|
|C&E CNE62792||View Deal||4/5||9.5||7.3||5.5||0.02||✓||3||✓||1.6||F||1080p||HDCP 1.0||F||✓||HDMI 1.3b|
|Rocketfish 4-port HDMI Switch||View Deal||3/5||3.5||7.5||9||10||0.03||4||5.4||✓||B+||1080p||Compliant||D||✓||HDMI 1.4a||1 Year||Phone, Email|
|Orei UHD 501||View Deal||3/5||2.5||7.3||7.8||10||0.04||5||15.1||✓||B-||4K||HDCP 1.4, 2.2||F||✓||HDMI 1.4, 2.0||1 Year||✓|
The best HDMI switcher we tested was the J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301.
While other switchers were difficult to set up or to use, it was easy to set up all our test devices with this switcher, and using it to switch between peripherals was fast and problem-free. This is one of the few models we tested that also works with resolutions up to 4K, making it somewhat future-proof.
This switcher worked with all our test devices, though it took some plugging and unplugging to get the MHL cable and smartphone to work. You can easily auto-switch between displayed devices by powering on the device that you want to use. If you want, you can also toggle this function on and off using the included remote.
This switcher is compatible with HDMI sources version 1.4b and lower, and is also compliant with HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) version 1.4. When we watched an Ultra HD version of “The Martian” on our test TV, the J-Tech switcher didn’t have any lagging or problems. It is small, but it has to be visible on your media center because it doesn’t come with an IR cable.
This switcher comes with a one-year warranty. You can contact J-Tech Digital by phone or email for help with any issues.
The Fosmon HD1832 is one of the least expensive HDMI switchers we tested, and it is our top pick for value. For under $15, you get five additional HDMI ports and an infrared remote to switch between them.
It features auto-switching, but it may not work with all your devices. When we tested this switcher with a Phillips UHD Blu-ray player, it struggled to deliver sound and audio together. However, this device worked perfectly with the Apple TV, Chromecast Ultra and laptop we plugged in.
This switcher supports resolutions up to 1080p as well as 3D. It supports HDMI version 1.3b and HDCP 1.1. If you purchase this switcher, you’ll want to match the HDMI versions of your devices with the switcher.
This switcher has an external IR sensor, like the Masscool MA103, so you can hide the switcher behind your TV and still use the remote. The remote for this switcher feels cheaper than some of the remotes we tested, but it works fine to switch between the five inputs.
This switcher is a few dollars more than the cheapest switcher we tested, but the Fosmon comes with a one-year warranty as well as customer support through email.
Best for Reducing Cables
If you’re looking for an HDMI switcher that you can easily stow behind your TV or in a drawer in your media center, the Masscool MA103 is your best bet.
It comes with an external IR sensor that you can place in view of the remote so the switcher itself can remain hidden. This switcher worked with all our test devices, though it did take several attempts to get the UHD Blu-ray player working.
This switcher supports HDMI version 1.3b and HDCP pass-through. It supports resolutions up to 1080p as well as 3D. It takes only two seconds or so to switch inputs, one of the fastest we tested. This switcher also auto-switched between sources, even with an Apple TV plugged in as one of the devices.
The Masscool switcher’s remote is bare-bones, with just three buttons to switch between sources, but it works efficiently. You must point the remote with some accuracy at the IR sensor, but it’s more forgiving than other remotes and sensors we tested.
This switcher has a one-year warranty. You can get support through FAQs, by phone or by email.
Best 5-Port Switch
The Kinivo 501BN HDMI switch has five input ports and one output port, so you can connect all your devices to your TV at the same time.
It performed well in our switching tests and had an average switching time of 0.03 seconds. The Kinivo supports automatic switching and includes a remote, which interacts with the switch via the built-in infrared sensor. The Kinivo switch was the most compatible with our test devices, even supporting audio return channel (ARC), which is a rare feature. The device is small. The front has status lights for power, output and all five inputs, as well as a button for manual switching. The ports are scattered around the other three sides, with the output port on one side, four input ports on the back and one input HDMI and the power port on the other side. This design isn’t the best, as it can lead to an unwieldy cord setup. Even so, the Kinivo is a great five-port HDMI switch.
The Orei HD-501 is a convenient HDMI switcher with practical design features.
All its ports are on the back side of the device, including its five HDMI input ports, single HDMI output and power outlet. The hidden, same-side ports are great because they help mitigate the potential for an unruly mess. The front of the device houses the built-in infrared sensor, power indicator, output port indicators and a manual switching button. The indicator placement and corresponding labels make it easy to tell from your couch which ports are in use. The Orei features automatic switching and senses when any of the input devices are on or off. It also comes with a simple remote for selecting the right input channel. It’s a great 5-port HDMI switch, though it does not support 4K content. The Orei HD-501 comes with a three-year warranty, but there are no chat or phone support options.
Why Trust Us?
To test HDMI switchers, we bought 10 of the top switchers from nine brands and brought them into our testing lab. We looked at how fast each switcher jumped between HDMI sources, checked whether any sources wouldn’t display, and gauged the overall use and feel of each product. We scored each switcher based on our experiences and other factors.
HDMI switchers are basic devices, but we put them through their paces because no one else has done a thorough test of HDMI switchers. We focused on testing brands you’ll find on Amazon.com, as well as a Rocketfish switcher from Best Buy in case you’re scrambling and need to purchase a switcher from a physical store.
Our recommendations are based mostly on our impressions of these devices while doing side-by-side testing, but we also like to scour the web looking for articles to help us understand all the important features. We found this article particularly helpful because it has images of a few different connection scenarios to help you visualize how to connect all your devices to the switcher.
Top Ten Reviews has been reviewing tech products for over a decade. I am an experienced writer and reviewer, and I have tested and written reviews for numerous digital products and services for Top Ten Reviews. I’ve set up my own home theater system and am constantly learning about the latest AV products.
How We Tested
We connected each switcher to the following devices: a Phillips UHD 4K Blu-ray player, a Chromecast Ultra, an Apple TV (not the new 4K version), a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone with an MHL cable, and a laptop with an HDMI cable. We set up a TV in our test lab, plugged in all the devices, and started switching through the HDMI switchers.
We used the remote and the physical button on each switcher to toggle through the sources, making sure each one was working properly. To test the auto-switching, we turned off the Blu-ray player and then turned it on again while the switcher set on a different HDMI port to see if it would automatically change inputs.
We used a UHD copy of “The Martian,” a dozen movie trailers from the Apple TV and a YouTube video from “National Geographic” to test our video sources.
We found that most HDMI switchers function the same, but several of the cheaper models failed to play media from the smartphone or couldn’t play the UHD Blu-ray without interruptions to the audio and picture. We took detailed notes of each switcher’s capabilities and how easy each was to operate.
Important Things to Consider When Choosing an HDMI Switcher
HDMI switchers are essentially HDMI hubs that let you plug your HDMI devices into the switcher and then connect a single HDMI cord to your TV. If you’re running out of HDMI ports on your TV, or you have an older TV with just a few HDMI ports, an HDMI switcher can give you more ports for less money than an expensive AV receiver.
Basic HDMI switches cost less than $15. These devices offer one or two extra ports but use slightly older technology and may not support automatic switching. Between $20 and $50, you can find switches with more ports, but these still may not support things like 4K or HDCP 2.2. Higher-end switches that do support those features are mostly made for expensive home theater setups and cost much more. For most uses, including 1080p HD and 3D, you can get away with using an inexpensive switch.
Automatic, Manual & Remote Switching
HDMI switches feature either automatic or manual switching. The difference between the switching styles is straightforward: Manual switchers have a physical button or switch to toggle between your preferred input, while automatic switchers have sensors that detect what input is currently active and automatically send that input information to the output device. Most of the HDMI switches we tested have automatic switching, and some allow you to turn off this feature if you prefer manual.
Some HDMI switches have an infrared sensor and come with a small remote, so you can manually switch between inputs without getting up. We preferred products with an external infrared sensor as opposed to a built-in sensor, as they keep the switch itself out of sight without losing the remote function. Both automatic and manual HDMI switches can support remote switching.
HDMI Switcher vs. HDMI Splitter
Though the names are similar, HDMI switchers and HDMI splitters perform very different tasks. An HDMI switch takes multiple inputs and a single output. A switch allows you to connect a gaming console, Blu-ray player and a streaming device to the same television and choose which of the three inputs to display. An HDMI splitter does the opposite – it takes a single input and directs it to multiple outputs to allow a single device, like a Roku, to deliver content to multiple devices.
HDMI and HDCP Versions
It’s important to understand that different versions of HDMI may not be compatible with one another. While HDMI cables come in only two versions, high-speed and normal, devices that use HDMI can have different versions. The latest HDMI version is 2.0, and TVs or switchers that use this version are compatible with earlier versions like 1.4 and 1.3. However, a TV that supports only HDMI 1.3 won’t be able to play content from an HDMI 2.0 Blu-ray player.
HDCP is closely tied to HDMI and is a digital “handshake” protocol that ensures you’re not playing pirated content. Similar to HDMI, HDCP versions need to match up for content to be played correctly. The newest version of HDCP is 2.2, and not all devices will support pass-through from all versions of HDCP.
None of the HDMI switchers we tested come with an HDMI cord, so you’ll have to purchase at least one to connect the switcher to your TV. Don’t pay attention to HDMI cords that advertise support for various HDMI versions or HDCP. HDMI cords are simply pipes that stream data, so you just need to purchase an HDMI cord that is labeled high-speed.