Aten VanCryst VM0404H HDMI Matrix Switch Reviewajmatson - September 14, 2010
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The Aten HDMI switch looks almost like any other switch such as one for Ethernet in terms of form factor. The similarities stop there though. This is designed for combining and splitting HDMI signals. In case you do not know what HDMI is, it stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, which is an interface used to carry high-definition video and audio from a high-definition device to an HDMI capable television or monitor. The Aten Matrix Switch provides the ability to carry signals from four input devices and output them to four displays. The input can come from any number of HDMI capable devices including HD camcorders, satellite boxes, HD-DVD player, Hi-Def Blu-Ray player, home theater PC, stand-alone streaming media player or gaming consoles. The Aten VM0404H supports up to 1080p for full high-definition video and audio, up to WUXGA 1920 x 1200 resolution for HD capable computer monitors, Dolby TrueHD, Blu-Ray support, and also supports the PlayStation 3 gaming console. It is HDMI 1.3b and HDCP 1.1 compliant as well as HDMI CEC compliant. The VM0404H supports 12-bit deep color for HDMI format giving you rich, colorful video. The Aten Matrix Switch also features Power On Detection where if one HDMI source is powered off it will automatically switch to the next powered-on source.
On the front of the switch there are the four selection switches that designate the input for each output port. If you flip the unit around you will find the eight HDMI ports. The ones on the left of the device are labeled HDMI out for connection to a display device 1 through 4. The four on the right are labeled HDMI in and are designated with the letters A, B, C, and D. To the far right there is a two way RS-232 serial port used for high-end system control.
Operating the switch is as easy as can be. There are four buttons labeled 1 through 4 that stand for the four HDMI output ports on the back of the switch. Surrounding each output there are the four letters designated for the four input ports on the rear as well. If you want to have, for instance, monitor one to display the device on input “A” then you push the button until the LED next to the letter “A” is lit for output 1. If you want to have input “B” set to the number 2 display then you do the same for that output as well. One great thing with the switch is you can mirror the same input device on two different displays by selecting the same input letter, in this case input “B,” to the wanted output ports. Notice that output 1 and 2 both have input device “B” selected.
To get a better look at what makes the device run I had to crack it open and get inside. The Aten Matrix Switch is designed very simply. There is the main board which is powered by an Xlinx Spartan processor and CAT video processing chips. The controls are connected to a daughter board, which provides the selections to the mainboard through a serial cable.
One great feature of the Aten MV0404H Matrix Switch is that it can be rack mounted if your input devices are as well. This is great for when small media racks are used to house your multimedia devices. The rack ears are secured with several screws on each side and can just be slid into a rack and mounted. The unit is light enough to just be secured with the ears and does not need any rails. Below is a shot of how it can be mounted into a rack (although it was not screwed in because of the running cables) but the idea is the same for a multimedia rack.
Now that we have everything set up we can move on to the testing.