Do you suffer from input envy? So prevalent is the high definition-capable HDMI cable that even if your home entertainment setup isn’t suffering from a lack of HDMI inputs, it soon will be.
You might find there are not enough HDMI ins and outs on your TV to support your Xbox 360 or PS3, home cinema, Blu-ray player, laptop and Sky box. Arguably a home cinema projector is even more of a problem because almost all have a sole HDMI input. So there are two clear choices to get around this.
The first is spend a lot of money buying a new TV: Samsung, LG and Pioneer all make flatscreen TVs with five HDMI inputs, surely enough to serve even the most HD-obsessed. Or you could spend a heap of cash on an AV receiver.
For your second option, step forward one of the Naughties’ most important accessories in the digital, high-def living space: the humble HDMI switcher.
Marmitek’s Connect410 is one of the best we’ve seen so far. Fitted with four HDMI inputs and a single output for attaching to any HD Ready TV, this simple but high-end box instantly removes one rather annoying reason why you might need to buy a new telly.
What’s more, this slim, small black box can be hidden out of sight behind the TV so won’t clutter-up your set-up. An IR Extender is also available to bring infrared operation into the mix, but there’s almost no need.
Its HDMI inputs are all compatible with version 1.3 and work with CEC, so if your TV’s remote uses something like Viera Link (Panasonic), Anynet+ (Samsung) or BraviaSync (Sony) to control a Blu-ray player, it will continue to work.
The Connect410 supports Full HD pictures and its HDMI inputs can accept video from cables as long as 15m. The need to buy an extra HDMI cable is also thrust aside by the inclusion, in the box, of a great quality 1-metre lead that’s plated with 24-carat gold, no less.
There are no onscreen menus to worry about, either: just attach your kit to the Connect410’s four HDMI inputs and toggle around them using the teeny remote. Each input label glows blue when selected.
Whether you really want yet another remote control is worth considering, but it’s an unavoidable consequence with this kind of add-on accessory.
Not that the Connect410 is the finished article in terms of features; something that HDMI switcher manufacturers seem to have overlooked is the USB input. Just as computers and laptops are fast swapping their VGA outputs for an HDMI port, so too are flatscreen TVs and projectors increasingly sporting USB ports for playing digital media from flash drives. It’s that kind of convergence that Marmitek should be looking to support, but that doesn’t affect our opinion of the Connect410.
Further up Marmitek’s range is its Connect411, which for an extra £55 adds a digital audio output that supports Blu-ray’s new lossless sound formats Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
That may be overkill. Although the Connect410 doesn’t exactly cost a fortune, it is worth considering exactly how many HDMI inputs you actually need for your high-def set-up; Marmitek also make a Connect310 switcher that offers three HDMI inputs - and crucially costs just £35. If you simply need to add a few inputs to an LCD or plasma that already has two or three, the Connect310 is probably your most cost effective.
For those with just one HDMI input who want to future-proof their setup without spending big, there are few units better made or simpler to use than Marmitek’s Connect410.
Given the proliferation of HDMI as the main connection for video and sound home entertainment – and even computing – a HDMI switcher like the Connect410 effectively saves you from having to upgrade your TV while giving a projector a new lease of usefulness. Simple and effective, its great build quality and inclusion of a very high quality HDMI cable helps make this one of the best value around.