For ultra-stable HDMI switching, the HS-42A is pretty much flawless
Both coaxial and optical digital audio outputs
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One of the most annoying traits of the TV world in recent times has been the way sets are all falling over themselves to offer high definition handling, but then only provide a paltry amount of HDMI connections for you to actually get high definition signals into them.
Until very recently it was standard practice to offer only one HDMI, and even now you seldom find more than two - even though you didn't exactly need a crystal ball to see that many home cinema fans could well already need one HDMI for a Sky HD receiver and one for a Blu-ray/HD DVD player, with another on standby for a PS3 console come March.
Happily, though, if you find yourself faced with an HDMI shortfall, you don't have to keep mucking around the back of your TV switching connections over. Instead you could get yourself an HDMI switchbox like the PureLink HS-42A.
This impressively metallic, low-slung black box provides 4-2 HDMI switching - meaning it can take in HDMI signals from up to four different sources, and channel them out into two HDMI outputs (allowing two HD Ready displays to share multiple HDTV sources). You just pick the input you want to watch, and it will appear on your screen(s) without any need to swap any cables over.
What's more, the HS-42A thoughtfully provides both coaxial and optical digital audio outputs that permit HD digital audio switching to an AV receiver on both HDMI outputs. Handy.
Also handy for system builders and custom installers is an RS-232C port allowing for further external control options.
The PureLink HS-42A has two more significant aces up its sleeve. First, it has the bandwidth-handling capacity to pass through the 1080p HD format now gaining currency with the arrival of Blu-ray and HD DVD.
And second, it's the first HDMI switchbox in the UK officially certified to handle the HDCP anti-piracy digital 'handshake' protocols. So you shouldn't have to worry about any compatibility issues whatsoever with current or most future HDMI kit.
We tried S.W.A.T. from our Samsung and Panasonic Blu-ray players in 1080p mode, as well as a 1080p feed from our resident Marantz HD upscaling DVD deck, and all passed through the HS-42A perfectly. Even visually loaded (in terms of colour and detail) sequences are delivered with all their elements completely intact.
The PureLink HS-42A isn't cheap by the standards of HDMI switchboxes, and in a dream world would perhaps have been HDMI v1.3 compatible. But really that's being unfairly unrealistic.
If you want an immaculate and ultra-stable HDMI switching performance with any digital source you might want to chuck at it, coupled with a no-brainer operating system and that unusual two-output flexibility, the HS-42A is pretty much flawless.
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