HDMI splitters and switchers are incredibly useful – but while they sound similar, the two devices have very different purposes. For those looking to take a signal and rout it to multiple locations, a splitter is what you want – and if you are looking for a splitter? Well the OREI HD-104 is going to be exactly what you are looking for.
First, a lowdown on the specs. This particular model is an single input to four outputs. The use case I had for it was taking my PC, which also serves as a video station in one of my rooms, and running that signal to other rooms in the house. It might be used in a sports bar if you are looking to split signals to multiple televisions as well. Duplicating a signal in this fashion is easy and with a good splitter, you suffer absolutely no quality loss.
The back of the unit has the input and outputs, while the front consists of the power switch, and some red indicators to let you know which ports are in use. For being a small unit (three inches deep, half a foot wide and only about an inch tall), the build quality is excellent. The box just feels sturdy and I have use other HDMI units that have loose ports where the wires shift around a bit while connected. There was none of that here as each cable nestled in snug and sound. Additionally, this is a powered unit and it comes with a 5V AC adapter, which is great as I have had some hit and miss luck with passive HDMI devices in the past.
Hooking up could not be easier, and operation is also quite straight forward. Everything you need to know is in the enclosed manual, but really there is not much to it. Now it is worth noting that the unit can get a little warm. I know it is common practice to want to stuff something like this up into an attic or a ceiling, but I do not recommend that. I do not think that the OREI is any kind of a fire risk, but in general those are spaces that get hot and have little to no air circulation. I used to do audio/visual installation in the past, and while running cables through those spaces is fine, I generally found that having actual devices like this crammed into those regions leads to them getting warm or even hot – and that can burn them out more quickly. It is small and sleek-looking, so I just have mine on a shelf right beside my PC.
Another thing worth noting is that the signal will try to adapt to the lowest device it is hooked to. While it is perfectly capable of carrying a 1080p video signal and 5.1 audio with 3D, if one of those devices is lower resolution quality, it will scale for all of the devices. I strongly recommend that you use similar devices – this is not a problem specific to this unit, every splitter I have worked with does this, but it is just something else I wanted to put out there for you.
An added benefit for gamers who like to capture content, though it doesn’t show up in the marketing materials, this splitter seems to strip out HDCP. For those of us who like to record game content from our PS3s, you know what this means: no more blank screens or having to use the component cable adapter. In this example, I ran my Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4 into my switching device. I then took the output HDMI from the switcher into the OREI HD-104 splitter and ran one output to my television and the other to my capture card.
All in all the OREI HD-104 offers a slick, convenient way to split off your HDMI signals to multiple sources. The box is small (though the red lights might annoy you depending on your setup), it remains relatively cool, and it comes with an adapter to power the unit. All in all, a great little device that does exactly what it is supposed to do.
Review by Nick