At the rear of the Belkin youâ€™ll find four HDMI ports â€“ three inputs and one output. All the ports are gold plated â€“ this is something thatâ€™s common with analogue interconnects as the gold plating reduces the chances of oxidisation, and helps maintain a clean connection, thus reducing signal degradation. Of course this is less of an issue with a digital connection, since a digital signal is either there or not, the quality of the signal should, in theory be irrelevant as long as the receiver has all the data it needs to reconstruct the audio and video stream. I know that there are purists out there who will swear by mega-expensive digital cables, but Iâ€™m not one of them. The final connector at the rear is the 6v DC input for the supplied power adapter.
Also in the box is a remote control and two AAA batteries to power it. The remote has three buttons labelled 1, 2 and 3 â€“ these obviously refer to the three inputs and will switch between them directly. There are also two arrow buttons, which allow you to cycle through the inputs in either direction. A real bonus is that Belkin provides a 6ft HDMI cable in the box, so you really have got everything you need to get you up and running.
I hooked the Belkin switcher up to a Panasonic Viera TH-37PX600 Plasma TV and it produced an image every bit as crisp and clear as a direct connection, while audio remained equally unsullied. Belkinâ€™s HDCP implementation also appeared to work perfectly â€“ I hooked up several HDCP source devices and every one of them behaved as if they were connected directly to the TV. Switching between sources was a fairly smooth procedure too, with no more than a two or three second delay when changing sources.
If thereâ€™s one major disappointment with this switcher (other than the lack of a power button) itâ€™s that it only supports HDMI 1.2, rather than the newer 1.3 standard. This means that if you want to take advantage of the Deep Colour technology that comes with HDMI 1.3, youâ€™ll still need to connect directly to your TV. That said, if you need a switcher box like this, youâ€™ve probably got an older TV with a single HDMI port, which definitely wonâ€™t support HDMI 1.3 anyway.
With a price of just over Â£80, the Belkin HDMI switcher offers pretty good value for money, assuming that you only have three source devices to hook up.
Belkin has produced a good solution for anyone who has more source devices than HDMI inputs on their TV. The bundled HDMI cable is a real plus, but the lack of a power switch is a definite minus.