HDMI Switchbox

Octava 5 Port HDMI SwitchJust when you though it was safe to throw away scart switchboxes as you move to hi-def you soon realise that most HD TV’s come with only 1 HDMI socket, 1 DVI socket and a component socket (although most new TV’s now come with 2 HDMI’s at least). Not much when you think of the multiple HD sources that you could have. To get round this little issue I plumped for an Octava 5 way HDMI switchbox. This works really well as a pass through device and gives long term expandability for any future HD devices I may add.

It allows for 5 HDMI/DVI sources to be connected and so far with my two sources it’s worked with no issues. Although it auto switches it also supports Infra Red selection of an input which is useful feature to have. If you do want one I can highly recommend The Media Factory who answered all my queries and also delivered promptly. Will definitely use them again. Worth noting that the Octava was pretty cost effective when compared to other HDMI switchboxes on the market at the moment.

Also worth considering is the Octava switchbox that also allows for multiple optical inputs – very handy if your amp is low on capacity. Ultimately the switchbox is more expandable and cost effective than upgrading your amp which looking at today’s market will give you one extra HDMI socket which really isn’t enough.

HD Stuff

A few bit’s and pieces on HD. Firstly, my TV. Had no real issues with it apart from a bug with the 360 (and maybe hi-def content in general) in that the colour red (and oranges) would cause some ghosting of the image on the screen. Nothing major and certainly nothing that could be spotted in game. You could see it especially on the dashboard and in PGR menu’s although changing the dashboard theme removed the issue.

However I picked up TopSpin last week which looked gorgeous until I played my first tournament on clay. Uggggggghhhhhhhhh. Fugly and difficult to watch – felt the whole image was blurry. Luckily for me the next day saw the latest firmware release for the TV which solved the problem. Good stuff Philips – only took 4 months.

I still don’t know whether providing the facility to upgrade your TV’s firmware is a good idea. In one respect it allows Philips to address issues through the life of he TV. However it also allows them to ship a ‘buggy’ product knowing it can be addressed in the long term. How many users though will:

  • Know about the firmware release
  • Know how to apply it
  • Have the confidence to do it

People I know have issues applying a firmware release to a DVD writer worth about £60 never mind to a TV worth £1800. For me it’s great but I’m a geek. For average users it’s just not good enough.

Other HD news is a rumour – Microsoft will announce their HD-DVD add on at E3 next month and it will be priced at $100. That sounds stupidly cheap. If it’s true then I can see a lot of people picking up the device. Hopefully they’ll add an HDMI socket to the player as well – HDMI is the new scart and I’m still surprised they went with component rather than HDMI on the 360. Time to make amends.

I’m still looking for an HDMI switch box. As I’ve mentioned HDMI has become the standard way of hooking up HD sources yet most screens still only have one socket. If your a switch box manufacturer then the next couple of years is the time to make money. By year end I’ll have the DVD player, Sky HD, PS3 and probably the 360 via the HD-DVD add on all using HDMI. So it’s definitely a five way switch box which looking at those on the market will cost between £150 and £350. Ouch. Octava is my first choice as there is now a UK distributor and it’s the cheapest. Gefen do a 4 way HDMI and audio switch box but it’s over £300. I would rather get a new amp with some HDMI inputs than pay that much. So it looks like Octava unless I turn up a bad review in avforums. I’ll post an update once I have the box and tested it.