When looking to plug a new device into your TV, you realize your TV is out of free HDMI ports. For most of us, when we attach an HDMI cable to our TV, it’s for permanent use, such as a console, Blu-ray player, top box, laptop, and whatnot.
Removing one of those other devices could ruin your setup and create problems. Is there a way to add extra HDMI ports to your TV without removing any of the current connections? Besides, unplugging and plugging HDMI cables can eventually damage the ports.
Let’s explore the solutions.
How to Get Extra HDMI Ports:
The best way to get extra HDMI ports on a TV or display is to use an HDMI switcher which is a device that creates multiple inputs for one HDMI output. An HDMI switcher will either automatically or manually switch the HDMI source to the active device.
For example, let’s say your TV only has two HDMI ports and they’re already occupied. Instead of disconnecting one device, you could attach an HDMI switcher to an HDMI port, and then connect the HDMI cables to the ports on the switcher.
An HDMI switch looks like an adapter that has multiple HDMI ports connecting to one. While HDMI is backwards compatible, the switch is not, and you need to plug the inputs into the ports labelled “Input” and the TV into output, otherwise it won’t work. Most switches will label the ports for you.
From there, you can have multiple HDMI devices active and simply switch to the source you need with a press of a button, depending on the type of switcher you buy. There are lots of different kinds of HDMI switches. Some switch the signal automatically while others require a press of a button or remote, but they all work the same.
Remember, most switches require a power supply, although it depends on the devices you plan to connect, some do work without it. The power either comes from USB or a 5V power cable.
HDMI Switch Vs HDMI Splitter
It’s important to understand the difference between an HDMI switch and an HDMI splitter because the end result is very different. These two devices look identical. An HDMI switch basically helps you select between multiple input sources. An HDMI splitter will take one input and send that input to multiple outputs.
In other words, an HDMI switch moves one source to one display, while a splitter moves one source to multiple displays.
An HDMI splitter is useful for commercial activities, for example, you want the same video signal to be on multiple TVs or monitors. For example, demonstrate a video game, display the same media, and whatnot, across displays. But if you just want to add more devices to your TV, an HDMI switch is what you need.
What’s an Auto HDMI Switch?
Auto switches will detect any active HDMI device and send that signal to the display. For example, if you turn on a console, the TV will automatically switch to the console source. In most cases, these will work fine, but if you leave multiple devices powered on, that can cause issues.
Manual HDMI switchers are usually preferred. The ones with a remote are probably the easiest to use, but most have a button or switch too. Look for one that requires the least amount of effort on your part. Since you don’t want to stand up to switch a source, I recommend looking for a switcher that is either automatic or has a remote control.
Can You Connect a PC to an HDMI Switch?
Yes. You can connect a PC to an HDMI switch but it’s an input device, and will be treated as a video source. An HDMI switch will allow you to switch from games on your PC to games on your console in a matter of seconds, super convenient.
Another idea would be to have a dedicated laptop near your TV, connected to the switcher via HDMI, for media you can’t view on other devices. This will allow you to use a wireless keyboard and mouse, an easy way to create a home entertainment centre.
What HDMI Switch Do I Recommend?
There are lots of decent HDMI switches out there. The best one for you depends on how many devices you have and how many ports you need. Either way, it’s always better to have an extra port of two than having to remove devices.
For that reason, I recommend this UGREEN 3 HDMI Switch. It has four input HDMI slots, an IR receiver for a remote, and an LED light that indicates which source is in use. It’s compatible with pretty much every HDMI device, and it works perfectly. I really like the remote, you simply tap the number for the source on the remote and it will change in seconds.
The Bottom Line:
To summarize, if you run out of HDMI ports, don’t worry. In fact, an HDMI switch can sometimes save you money because you don’t need to worry about buying a TV with multiple HDMI ports. It’s a really handy device that can be used for all kinds of situations. If you have more than one HDMI device, I highly recommend buying a switch. You can use it in your living room on your TV or in your room with a monitor and whatnot. The best part is they’re budget-friendly, so no need to worry about that, most of them are under 20 pounds.