What is an HDMI splitter?
An HDMI splitter allows you to split one HDMI source signal to two or more outputs. Most HDMI splitters are 1:2, meaning you start with one source and can split the signal into two. You might use an HDMI splitter to duplicate the signal from your cable box so you can watch it on two televisions, or to split the cable and plug directly into both the television and the home theater system.
Also, some people prefer to watch HDMI sources directly through a television for low-quality broadcasts, such as a typical cable television show, but watch high-quality broadcasts, such as pay-per-view sporting events or movies through the home theater audio system. This gives you the option of bypassing your home theater system for regular television shows, or utilizing your home theater's superior audio for high-quality broadcasts.
Does an HDMI splitter degrade signal quality?
The answer to whether HDMI splitters degrade signal quality depends on who you ask. The truth is that it's a highly subjective experience. If you start with a regular cable broadcast and use a quality HDMI splitter, you may not notice any decline in signal. However, if you're watching 1080p video from your high-end Blu-ray player and you use a low-quality HDMI splitter cable, you're likely to see a significant decline in signal quality.
Quality matters when using an HDMI splitter.
Not all HDMI splitters are alike, and not all components play well with others. HDMI splitters are highly subjective pieces of equipment. HDMI splitter reviews may range from five stars to one star for the same piece of equipment, depending on the components involved and the splitter used. While the individual experience is highly subjective depending on your setup, one fairly reliable generalization is that low-quality HDMI splitter cables typically don't perform well.
Powered HDMI splitters vs. simple HDMI splitter cables.
If you're running HDMI signal for any length over 10 feet, you should consider a powered HDMI splitter instead of a simple HDMI splitter cable. HDMI splitter cable users notice a decline in signal quality for cable runs over 10 feet, but by using a powered HDMI splitter, you can amplify the HDMI signal and preserve signal quality over a longer distance. Powered HDMI splitters also tend to perform better overall, as they're typically better-constructed than low-quality HDMI splitter cables.
What to look for in an HDMI splitter.
If you use a HDMI 1.3 source, look for an HDMI splitter certified to handle the HDMI 1.3 protocol. Read reviews of HDMI splitters. See what experiences other people have with the HDMI splitter or HDMI splitter cable you're considering. Because HDMI splitter performance can vary, try to match up other people's experiences as closely as possible with your setup. If you've got a Samsung HDTV, look for HDMI splitters that perform well for people with Samsung HDTVs. Buy from someone with a good return policy so you can return the HDMI splitter if it doesn't work with your setup.
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