This is a pretty short and snappy blog from us at HDanywhere but we feel it’s an important one as this question pops up in phone calls and on forums all the time. HDMI Splitters, Switches and Matrices are all classed as “HDMI distribution equipment” but they each do a different thing- very important to remember!
A HDMI splitter takes one HDMI source device (e.g. a Sky Box) and lets you watch it on more than one TV. So a 1×2 HDMI splitter could let you watch a Sky Box on two TVs at the same time, as shown in the wiring diagram below.
There are normally two types of HDMI splitters: the first type only need HDMI cables for installation, like in the diagram above. The second type, sometimes called HDMI over Cat splitters, use network cables (commonly called Cat 5e / Cat 6 cables) to send HDMI signals over longer distances.
A HDMI over Cat splitter is probably better suited to a scenario when you want to watch one HDMI source device, say an Apple TV, on four TVs, each in a different room or on different floors. This is because the Cat 5e or 6 cabling can run over distances from 50m to 100m (check with your manufacturer / in the product manual how long the cable run can be for your chosen model of HDMI splitter.) Below is our HDanywhere mHub 2K 1×4 HDMI over Cat splitter. It can send one source device to five TVs- four of those TVs require a Cat cabling run + a TV receiver (which come supplied with every package). The fifth TV is connected using a HDMI cable.
A HDMI switch lets one TV switch between watching multiple HDMI source devices (e.g. A BluRay player, an Amazon Fire TV stick, a media server and a Sky Box). It’s is many-to-one device that is ideal for purchasing if you’re someone who has more HDMI entertainment devices than you do HDMI ports on your TV, meaning that everytime you want to watch something different you normally find yourself unplugging one device and plugging in another. Traditionally HDMI splitters come in 4×1 or 8×1 sizes, only require HDMI cabling and do not have any TV receivers.
To put it simply a HDMI matrix is a HDMI splitter and a HDMI switcher combined in one box. So, a 4×4 HDMI matrix lets you watch up to four HDMI entertainment devices (which includes games consoles, Apple TVs, Blu Ray players, Sky and TiVo boxes and so on) on up to four HDTVs at the same time and in any desired combination. All TVs could watch the same HDMI entertainment device, each could watch a different device, or they could watch any desired combination of source devices. The scenario for which most people decide to buy or have a matrix professionally installed is because they have lots of HDMI source devices and lots of HDTVs, and want to be able to watch all of their HDMI sources in any room in their home.
Again you can have pure HDMI matrices sometimes called a HDMI to HDMI matrix- this type only requires HDMI cables to be installed, but will struggle to send HD video over any great distance. That is why traditionally professional custom installaters and AV installers usually choose to fit a HDMI over Cat 5e / 6 matrix in a home.
If you’re interested in a HDMI Splitter, Switcher or Matrix visit www.hdanywhere.co.uk to browse your options. Plus, you could always browse our Installer Network to find a qualified professional who can fit any of these pieces of video distribution equipment and the relevant cabling in your home.