A HDMI matrix, sometimes called a HDMI matrix switcher, is a really useful device for your home especially if you’re a TV addict or home entertainment lover. We often refer to a HDMI matrix as a multiroom HDTV system, because it lets you watch multiple HDMI entertainment devices (for example Apple TV, Sky HD, or Virgin TiVo) on multiple HDTVs simultaneously.
A HDMI matrix is a multiroom HDTV system that can make all of your HDMI entertainment devices accessible in every room in your home.
This means you could watch the same DVD player on four TVs simultaneously, for example, or a different HDMI entertainment device on four different TVS, or any combination in between. A HDMI matrix is handy for individuals or families with a lot of different HDMI entertainment devices, such as a google chromecast, that they don’t want to be confined to using in just 1 room. With a HDMI matrix installed, every TV in the home can access the google chromecast.
Why invest in a HDMI matrix? What benefits will it bring to your home?
Having a HDMI matrix or multiroom HDTV system installed in your home will mean that your TV viewing areas looks as good as they should.
In the above picture, the HDMI matrix is hidden away in the cupboard beneath along with four HDMI entertainment devices. All four of the devices connected to the HDMI matrix are accessible in every room in the home.
With a matrix installed, there’s no set top boxes obscuring your viewing areas or, for wall mounted TVs, ugly cables that dangle down the walls and connect to a set top box. Also, a HDMI matrix negates the need for you to buy multiples of the same device e.g. a Sky Box for every TV that you want to be able to watch Sky on. With a matrix, you just need one Sky Box and you could watch it on as many TVs as you desire. This can help reduce your monthly subscription fees or save you unplugging your favourite entertainment device and carting around your home into another room.
Which HDMI matrix do you need?
You’ll often find the following terminology used to describe the size of HDMI matrix and its basic functionality:
4×4 HDMI matrix- this lets you watch up to four HDMI entertainment devices on up to four HDTVs in any combination
8×8 HDMI matrix- this lets you watch up to eight HDMI entertainment devices on up to eight HDTVs in any combination
4K vs 1080p HDMI matrixes- what’s the difference?
In 2016, one of the biggest questions we get is “do I need a 4K matrix?” or “what’s the difference between a 4K or 1080p matrix.” The world is kind of in two camps. Most people are still watching HDMI entertainment devices / set top boxes that are Full HD 1080p or even 1080i. There are only very few HDMI entertainment devices or set top boxes that are 4K-ready or have any movies or shows in 4K available.
It is important to remember that in order to watch 4K you need an entertainment device that is 4K e.g. Amazon Fire TV with 4K, nVidia Shield, BT Youview Box, Sony X10 player. PLUS, you’ll need a 4K TV. You can’t watch 4K on a 1080p TV. If it’s a 1080p TV then the maximum resolution you can enjoy is 1080p.
PLUS with a HDMI matrix installed in your home, then if you wanted to watch a 4K entertainment device on all your TVs, then every TV would have to be 4K. You couldn’t have a mixture of 4K and 1080p TVs. If you did, the matrix would have to send your films / shows out in a resolution of 1080p so that they could be watched by every screen in the home.
How does a HDMI matrix work?
Regardless of what size of matrix, or whether you choose a 4K-capable or 2K-capable Full HD 1080p one, they tend to work in the same ways and require the same things.
HDanywhere specialise in HDMI over Cat 5e/6 matrixes. These use a single cable, called Cat 5e / 6, to send video and audio from your HDMI entertainment device to your set top box. The Cat 5e / 6 cable runs from the central hub of the HDMI matrix to each room with a TV… so if you wanted to send four devices to four TVs each in a different room, you would require four Cat 5e/6 cables- one to each room.
Then each TV requires a display receiver behind it that the Cat 5e / 6 cable connects to. You then connect the mini TV display receiver to the HDMI port on your TV using an appropriate length of high-speed HDMI cable.
Why do I need this Cat 5e / 5 cable? Can’t I just use HDMI cables or do it wirelessly?
Although you can now send music reliably over mediums like Bluetooth and Wifi, this is not yet the case with HDMI video-especially if you’re looking to deliver HDMI video to TVs that are far away from each other in different rooms!
Cat 5e/6 cabling is designed to push HDMI signals to long distances- typically up to 100m, with no loss in video quality and no latency (which can cause a delay in your viewing experience and result in scenarios where the audio and video are not in sync). If you’re really not sold on installing Cat 5e / 6 cabling in your home, then you can always hire a HDanywhere Pro via the HDanywhere Installer network to install the necessary cabling PLUS your HDanywhere system. That way, all that’s left for you to do is enjoy all your devices on every TV.
How do you control your HDMI or change channel on your set top boxes / entertainment devices?
All HDanywhere multiroom systems come with two-way IR as standard. Each HDanywhere matrix is supplied with an IR kit that you install with your matrix, so that you can basically use your Sky Box remote, for example, at every TV connected to your HDanywhere HDMI matrix. You can also use your TV remote controls to control things like volume and turning on and off, just as you normally would. Many of our customers are going to be using two-way IR control in tandem with the HDanywhere app, which lets you switch between which set top box you’re watching in any room. Both options (two way IR control and HDanywhere app) are free and easy to set up.
If you’re looking to control your multiroom system, set top boxes and other smart home devices such as lights, then you might want to look into purchasing a third party control app e.g. SimpleControl, iRule, DemoPad or a universal remote Logitech Harmony, One for All. These options require you to program them.
Professionally-installed systems for whole-home automation and control, like Control4, Crestron, RTI, Loxone, Savant, OnControls and Fibaro, will work seamlessly with a HDanywhere matrix as well as the rest of your home electronics but these are not available for homeowners to purchase. They require detailed programming knowledge and must be installed by a HDanywhere Pro Installer.