The problem with being a technology enthusiast is that I always seem to have more kit knocking around my house than anyone realistically should have. When it comes to my living room, I’ve yet to find a TV that has enough inputs for me – when you’ve got so many things that use the same connection method, you tend to find yourself fiddling around behind the TV every time you want to watch/play something.
Although many TVs now come equipped with three SCART sockets, that’s of no use to me, since I never use SCART if I can help it. Unless there is an HDMI option on the table I will go for component video every time, since it is far and away the best quality analogue video connection available. The problem with component video is that the majority of TVs only have one component input, which means having to unplug/plug three phono connectors every time I want to use a different bit of kit.
One answer to this problem is to use an AV amplifier that has component video switching, but not everyone has the room for a full surround sound system in their living room, or, as in my case, they may not be in a position to buy an amplifier and speakers right now. With this in mind I had to try to come up with another solution to this problem – with my Xbox 360, DVD player and Sky HD box all vying for the TV’s component video input, I wasn’t prepared to go down the constant cable swapping route.
After a little digging around the web I found myself at the home of AV Tool – a company that specialises in professional audio/video kit. Here I found exactly what I was looking for in the shape of the AVT-5831. This little black box has three component video inputs, and a single monitor output. Each video input is made up of three phono sockets, while both analogue and digital audio switching for each video input is also on offer. The analogue audio connection is via a 3.5mm mini-jack, while the digital audio comes courtesy of a Toslink optical connector.
To get the best out of the AV-5831 I needed some good, matched cables. After a quick call to Belkin, I received four sets of its PureAV Silver component video cables. These are very thick cables and quite stiff, so it wasn’t that easy to get everything plugged in and neatly squared away, but I managed it in the end. Belkin also sent me four of its PureAV Silver range Toslink cables and four PureAV Audio Splitter cables, so that I could test both the analogue and digital audio as well.