XtremeMac HDMI Switcher

Michael Brown

Planned obsolescence is one of the great evils of the Industrial Age, and it’s especially pernicious when it comes to consumer electronics. HDMI is only the latest example.

I love the new interface because it reduces the number of cables needed to connect my HD CATV set-top box to the 37-inch Viewsonic N3760w monitor I’ve been long-term testing. And as long as that was the only device I needed to plug into it, the TV’s single HDMI input served me well.

But then Netgear sent me their awesome Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 to review. Having to unplug the set-top box to watch YouTube videos on the Viewsonic was a royal pain the butt. And then I upgraded my DVD player to a model that also supports HDMI. Now I had three devices competing for the single HDMI port on my TV.

I used Accell’s UltraAV HDMI switch for a while, but that product has only two inputs. I was also considering upgrading my A/V receiver to a new model that supports HDMI—Yamaha’s luscious RX-V2700 has three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output—but after building a new home , I just can’t afford it. So when Xtreme Mac pitched me their XtremeHD 4-port HDMI switcher , I asked them to send me one, stat.

The switch is enclosed in an attractive case—it’s considerably more appealing than Accell’s two-port switch—with four LEDs indicating which source you’ve selected with the wireless remote control. The remote control is chiclet-style, but large enough that it won’t get lost in your couch cushions (but I’d recommend teaching its functions to your programmable remote anyway).

The switcher—and the five 6.6-foot HDMI-to-HDMI cables XtremeMac sent along for the test—delivered excellent video and audio quality (both support the HDMI 1.3 standard). The products are reasonably priced, too: The switcher goes for $100 and the cables sell for $20 each (they also offer 13.2-foot cables for $30).

I’ll upgrade my A/V receiver eventually—there are advantages to be had beyond the multiple HDMI ports—but XtremeMac’s HDMI switch is an affordable stopgap measure .

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