As more and more people enter the high definition era, the need for specialized components to get everything working together grows. For example as HDMI devices proliferate those who have purchased televisions with a single HDMI port are faced with a decision about how they are going to use those devices with their TV. They are going to have to swap cables constantly, purchase a new receiver, television, or purchase a device like the Accell Ulta HDMI 2-1.
As the title of the device implies, the Accell Ultra HDMI 2-1 allows you to share one HDMI input between two HDMI devices. According to Accell the switcher handles every resolution from 480P to 1080P as well as handling HDCP tokens without problem. I tested the device with my Time Warner cable box which supports HDCP and had no problems with it the device. I don’t have a 1080P television but it did work well with my 1080i TV.
The switcher itself is a simple device. There are two HDMI inputs on one side of the switch and an output HDMI port on the other. Above the two inputs are red LED’s that light up when the port is in use. Rounding out the top of the switcher is a small button which allows you to toggle between the devices. The switch also has a mounting hole on the plate if you want to mount it to your home theatre rack.
Accell realized that people aren’t going to want to get off their duff to change between devices so they’ve included a remote control and IR sender with the device. In order to enable the remote you simply connect the five foot IR extender to the HDMI switch and then place it where you have line of sight.. The cable and receiver are both black so they can be easily hidden on a black TV (which helps with the Significant Other Acceptance Factor). The only problem is that the adhesive for holding the receiver in place isn’t that big so you will more than likely have to supplement the supplied adhesive with some black electricians tape.
Once you have everything setup using the Ultra HDMI 2-1 is a snap, you just push the button for the device you want to use and it switches over. No fuss no muss. I tried it at a range of about 10 feet and had no problems getting it to switch over. The only problem I had was with my TV handling the rapid change between HDMI devices (this is a problem with the TV not with the Accell device).
Switches like the Accell Ultra HDMI 2-1 sometimes introduce noise into the picture but if the Accell switch does I didn’t certainly didn’t notice any. To back this up I took a pictures with the TV directly connected to the cable box and once connected through the Accell switch. I then repeated the experience with the PS3 and then compared the pictures with Photoshop. I honestly couldn’t see any real difference between the two pictures although some of the blacks in the direct connect were a little darker.
Priced at just under $100 the UltraAV HDMI 2-1 switch is a decent value compared to the alternatives. You’ll need to have three HDMI cables to use the device which adds considerably to the cost of owning the device. Ideally Accell would package the device with at least one HDMI cable but that would increase the cost quite a bit and that wouldn’t add any value for those that already have a collection of HDMI cables in their closet. It’s certainly a good bargain if you need to hook to hook two HDMI devices to one input.
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