I have a front projector in one room and a flat panel display in another. Instead of purchasing separate sets for components for each display, I’d rather just use a HDMI distribution box so any source could be routed to either display. Unfortunately, this is turning out to be an impossible dream.
Most of the devices available are HDMI splitters, so they can display the same source on both displays. However, they can not display different sources on different displays and this is the functionality I really want. A HDMI matrix switch is required to do this. The Gefen 4×4 HDMI HDTV Matrix Switch will perform this task but there are two problems. The first is that it is expensive: $2000 list price. The second problem is that it doesn’t support the HDMI repeater bit, so can’t be installed between a HDMI source device and a Audio/Video Receiver.
The HDMI Repeater Bit – yet another way to prevent HDMI from working: A HDMI switch/matrix device can’t be placed between a source device and a HDMI Audio/Video Receiver if it doesn’t support the bit. There are also problems if the source device (DVD player, cable box, etc.) doesn’t support this bit. So, if this bit is not supported by any device in the chain, you can only connect the source device directly to the display. Here are a couple of links to related discussions on the Gefen forum. John Caldwell wrote an article describing the symptoms.
To summarize: you can’t use a HDMI switch, an HDMI matrix device, or even a HDMI A/V Receiver if you have components that don’t support the HDMI repeater bit. The HDMI source device must be connected directly to the display if the repeater bit is not supported.
The DVI interface was great; it allows for low-cost splitting and distribution of the signal. But the movie industry forced HDCP Digital Rights Management into the HDMI specification, driving incompatibility into devices and thousands of dollars of cost into signal distribution. I’ve been a long-time supporter of purchasing your content as opposed to downloading it for free. I really want to continue to purchase and own movies legitimately. However, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to do so when the industry producing the content has no regard for the needs of their customers. Hopefully, someone will release a device that removes the HDCP from a HDMI signal so I can distribute the content I’ve legitimately purchased.