Saturday, February 27, 2010

Looking for a component video switch

My almost 10 year old HDTV has one minor problem; it only has two component video inputs. Okay, there's other issues; it doesn't have an HDMI input and it's a 36 inch tube set, so it weighs a ton, but that's beside the point.

The two component inputs weren't a problem until I got an HD cable box when I switched to Verizon last month. Prior to that I had a standard cable box, a Blu-ray player and an Apple TV hooked up, but the HD cable box makes three devices, and so I need either a component video switch, or to buy a new TV.

My initial search has turned up three choices, none of which I'm certain about:

StarTech's 4 to 1 Audio/Video Switch
This one is both the cheapest, and also has audio and video inputs for four devices, which is appealing. And it's only $29.99, which is both amazing and troubling at the same time. I have cables that cost that much, so it's got me wondering if it might not be a bit too "cheap?" It's rated at 3 and a half stars on Amazon, and only has 11 comments, many positive;
"With no picture or sound loss, I have been able to hook up 3 input devices (I have 1 port avail. for future) to that 1 component input on the TV"
"I am very happy with my purchase; the switch works perfectly and integrated nicely with our setup"
But then:
"There is however a slight video degradation and the unit seems susceptible to interference when it's close to other devices. Pass on this device if you're very demanding about your video quality."
"I noticed no degradation in the signal from the DVD player (480p) but there was definitely an inferior signal with high-definition TV channels (1080i)."

SVAT HD High Definition Component Video/Digital Audio 3 to 1 Source Selector Switch with Remote Control
At $49.99, 4 1/2 stars and 30 reviews, this one seems like a better choice. Most people seem happy with it; though not with the remote:
"This product provides all the functionality I needed for component switching and it does it well. A small annoyance is that the remote control does not work as well as we all have grown to expect. It seems weak, so one must be relatively close (within 6-7 ft)to the actual switch. In addition the remote must be held at virtually the same level as the switch itself."
"If you are looking for a switch, because your old one does not switch HD fast enough to preserve synch (you know who you, are IF you have this issue),then this unit is not for you. Otherwise, if you are just switching your component video games from one to another, this switch is fine."

Cables to Go: 40324 - 3-Play Component Video Digital Audio Selector
This box looks so similar to the SVAT, I can't help thinking they may not be the same box. This one's $47.14, rated 4 1/2 stars and has 184 reviews, so it looks like it's sold more than the other units. But there is at least one troubling negative review:
"I bought this switcher because of the high review scores but I've had two of them not work for me and ultimately had to send them both back and get a refund. When running the Nintendo Wii through it I would often get sync loss and flickering anytime a bright white screen came on (which happened a lot in Super Mario Galaxy)."

So now I have to make a decision. If anyone has an opinion or experience with any of these, I'd be happy to hear from you!

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