Gefen 4x4 HDMI Matrix audio-visual interconnect
Multiple input, multiple output
Review Gefen has announced an HDMI four-by-four crossover unit. Though it can be used as a straightforward HDMI switch for linking multiple players to a single display, it's actually more advanced than that: any of the four inputs can be switched to any of the four outputs...
That means a signal, say on input one, can be simultaneously output on any or all of the four output ports. This makes the gadget ideal for a multi-room set-ups, allowing the living room HD DVD player's output to be routed to two bedroom TVs, while the downloaded movie being played on the den PC can be displayed on the big plasma TV in the living room.
Each port can support a 1080p resolution and 2K video signal, and up to 1,920 x 1,200 for DVI monitors. The system also supports the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) copy protection system, ensuring there's correct handshaking between source and matrix, and matrix and display so pre-recorded HD content that requires the anti-piracy system won't degrade the content to standard definition.
The system comes with an infrared remote - there's no way to switch inputs on the unit itself - and it can also be controlled using a computer hooked up to its RS-232 port - remember them? The remote has 16 buttons numbered unimaginatively 1 through 16. Buttons 1-4 are coloured dark blue and correspond to output one; 5-8 are lime green for output two; 9-12 turquoise for output three; and 13-16 dark green for output four. Each of the four buttons corresponds to its respective input.
The unit is pretty easy to use with the supplied remote, which isn't particularly pretty, it has to be said. It would have been nicer - given the Matrix's row and column size - if the buttons were arranged in four groups of four rather than making the remote three buttons across and five down, with an extra button on the bottom corner.
The 19.2Kbps RS-232 uses ASCII codes '1' through '9' and 'a' through 'g' which respectively correspond to buttons 1-16 on the remote. Gefen doesn't supply terminal software to initiate the connection and send over the control codes, so you'll need to download some.
Another clue is that the 4x4 HDMI Matrix is a pro-oriented unit - or at least a prosumer product - is that it comes with attachable 'ears' for rackmounting. But the big tip off is the price - it lists for a whopping $1,999. For that, you get the box, the remote, a 24V power supply and just four HDMI cables - each 1.8m (6ft) long. Fortunately, HDMI-DVI and DVI-HDMI cables are widely available.