The 10 Best HDMI Splitters
A Brief History Of The HDMI Platform
The word HDMI is an acronym for "High Definition Multimedia Interface." This is a rare example of a name that perfectly expresses what its namesake does: the HDMI interface, or the plug and cable that connects two devices, to put it simply, adroitly carries audio and video content, otherwise known as multiple types of media, that is of very high definition quality.
HDMI was developed through a joint partnership of many major technology firms, including groups from Europe, Japan, and the United States. Companies such as Sony, Phillips, Panasonic, and RCA all worked in concert to develop the new interface format, with major research and development launched in April of 2002. The goal of the joint team was more expansive and forward thinking than to simply create the next viable format for handling the ever increasing data loads of modern media; rather, they wanted to create a platform that would remain suitable for years into the future but that was also backwards compatible with older devices and media compression formats, such as DVI.
This approach was a remarkable and laudable departure from the common planned obsolescence seen in the technology world (think of companies that release a new and marginally improved phone every year, for example, in the hopes that consumers will continually upgrade their devices), and one that helped ensure that much of the hardware consumers already owned and that companies were already producing would remain viable into the future.
Serious testing of the new HDMI interface took place between 2003 and 2005, the year in which many consumer products, most notable television sets, first began to feature HDMI ports as part of their standard selection of inputs. Within a few short years, well over 1,500 companies had incorporated HDMI technology into their hardware.
The HDMI interface has proven its worth time and time again, remaining at the cutting edge of media transfer options well over a decade after its initial launch. And in fact, as of August of 2016, more than four billion HDMI-ready devices had been produced.
Why You Need An HDMI Splitter
When it comes to using one source on multiple display units, there really is no better option than an HDMI splitter. They offer users the ability to take one single input and display it on a virtually unlimited number of TVs or monitors. There are many situations where this technology can come in handy.
In commercial settings, it often becomes necessary for multiple people to view a single video or image simultaneously. This could be because they are collaborating on a project, which is found to be beneficial, or because they all need to be exposed to the information simultaneously for efficiency reasons. Consider how difficult it would be for five or ten people to crowd around a single monitor. Not only would it be near impossible for them all to get a good view of the screen at the same time, but it would certainly hamper productivity as well. HDMI splitters provide this capability, without the need to purchase an overly large display screen.
Retail settings and events where multiple displays will be in use, whether for decoration or a shock and awe effect, can benefit from an HDMI splitter, especially one which offers buffering and amplification capabilities. A model with buffering will ensure that every display has a perfectly synchronized image. While the lag of a a few milliseconds may not sound like a big deal, it can appear very amateurish to viewers if they are able to see more than one screen at the same time, not to mention disorientating.
Educational settings can also benefit from the use of HDMI splitters. Using one in a classroom can allow each and every student to have a front row seat for whatever information they are being presented with, as long as they have access to some kind of monitor which takes input signals.
Finally, HDMI splitters often find a place in consumer's homes. As with commercial settings, this can be for use when collaborating with a friend on a project, or for more fun endeavors, such as a Superbowl party where you want to have one TV inside and another monitor outside for guests who are smoking so they don't have to miss a minute of the action. Instead of buying a completely separate TV, and perhaps a second cable box, you can just buy a standalone computer monitor and split your cable's signal, sending one to your TV as usual, and the other to your second monitor. These are just a few examples of how an HDMI splitter can be useful.
Choosing The Right HDMI Splitter
In life, so too with HDMI splitters, the simplest option is always the best. That is to say, if you are only looking to connect two or three displays to your source device via an HDMI cable, there is no need for you to select a splitter with eight output ports. A low cost, dual port HDMI splitter can be yours for well under twenty dollars, and will more than up to the job of handling your particular demands.
These basic devices usually require zero setup beyond the physical connection of wires, and are a great choice for the person whose technological know how hits its peak just knowing they want to connect two HDMI wires but have only one HDMI output on their source.
On the other hand, even the top of the line, multiple port HDMI splitters rarely cost more than $60 or $70 in most cases, which is hardly a prohibitive price point for most private applications, and certainly makes these units viable choices for businesses or for academic and research institutions.
Before you settle on an HDMI splitter, make sure you are familiar with the hardware with which you will be using it, as many of today's advanced devices -- such as those outputting ultra high definition 4K or 3D content -- can overload the lower end units. If you enjoy media recorded in these advanced formats, then spend the money on an HDMI splitter which can properly buffer and amplify your media, avoiding delayed and/or improperly displayed content.
If you're unsure which devices you might be connecting via your HDMI splitter, it may be a wise idea to spend a few dollars and opt for a higher end unit; better to have a unit that is more capable than you need than to have one that's not up to snuff and must be replaced shortly.