JOYTECH HDMI TriLink Switcher Review
There are a number of High Definition (HD) sources on the high street today. These can be from next generation consoles, HD Camcorders, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD players through to HD television receivers and up-scaling DVD players. With so many sources and only a small number of available ports built into your HD displays there will become a time where you will simply run out of available ports. Sadly when this happens we are forced to either upgrade our TV’s, buy new AV amps or a cheaper solution is to buy an AV switch or splitter. These magical box of tricks let you channel your HD sources through a single AV switch unit and then output these individual sources via a single cable into your HD display. Switching between each source is commonly done by manually pressing a corresponding button for that source on then unit, although more expensive AV switches do this via a remote control which lets you switch between sources without even getting up from your bottom engraved sofas.
All these additional features add up cost though and can make standard AV switches quite expensive. Luckily JOYTECH has begun paving the way for affordable AV switches, targeted to gamers and AV nuts among us. Today we are looking at the HDMI Tri Link Switcher from game peripheral developers – JOYTECH. This AV switch is mostly aimed towards PlayStation 3 users, it’s black, it’s tiny and it comes with a tiny remote but best of all its cheap! So let’s open up the fancy packaging and look at what the JOYTECH Tri Link HDMI switch has to offer our awaiting review HD setup.
As previously mentioned, most AV Switches of this kind will set you back at least over £100, and can even set you back over three times this amount. JOYTECH has kindly set the TriLink Switcher to a very wallet friendly RRP of £39.99, so already JOYTECH is on to a winner here, but will a low cost device bring us a low quality product? Let’s find out…
Opening up the stylish packaging reveals the TriLink and its contents. This includes the TriLink switcher unit, a mains power adapter, USB cable, Tri Link remote control, Infrared (IR) cable and the usual manuals. Sadly there is no inclusion of an HDMI cable for connecting the Output port to your display screen, so you will have to factor in the cost of an extra lead as you are forced to buy an additional HDMI output cable. This decision of JOYTECH’s will help keep the cost of the device down and will let you purchase a cable for your own AV setup conditions such as length and colour. With this said though retailers should make the lack of an HDMI lead very clear in their listing of this product.
The unit itself is very small and very light, measuring 9cm x 7cm x 2cm (W x H x D) this gloss black unit packs a multitude of ports which are located all around the device. On one side there are three 1080p compatible input HDMI ports, and on the opposite side is a single output HDMI port. The TriLink Switcher isn’t a passive device so it will need a power source to operate it. There are two methods of powering the unit, either via USB or via a mains adapter. The option of using USB to power the unit is a great feature aimed at the PS3 in mind and will free up any power sockets near your AV setup. In most cases though you will be using this unit with more than just a PS3 and to use your HD Satellite receiver while your PS3 is off isn’t an available option, this therefore forces you to end up using the mains adapter to power the unit. Finally an Infrared (IR) cable socket is located on the opposite side to the power ports to which an IR lead connects into. On the top side there is a central located button that will switch between each of the three connected sources while three Blue LEDs light up on the Switcher to display which source is currently selected.
With the power connected it’s now time to connect the variety of sources on our review setup. For this review we are connecting a Sony PlayStation 3 running at 1080p, an up-scaling Sony DVD recorder (720/1080i) and we will be outputting to a Samsung 1080p F71 LCD TV using XtremeMac v1.3 HDMI cables. Connecting up our TriLink we soon came across our first problem, our high quality HDMI cables were unable to fully connect into the ports. This was due to a raised surround around both the input and output ports at each side of the Switcher. Three alternative HDMI cables were tried and had the same results so this forced us to do a bit of modding to the unit in order to make our cables fit perfectly. With this complete we are good to so let’s fire up our first source – the Sony PlayStation 3.
Loading up the PS3 displayed great results in picture quality and colour. With HDMI being a digital connection you are worry free from any loss of picture quality; and this showed in our first test. Selecting one of the three buttons on the bundled remote control lets you switch between each available sources from the comfort of your own sofa and with the IR cable being a lengthy one you are able position the IR receiver easily around your AV unit. The IR receiver at the end of the cable is quite sensitive too, so locating the end in a less viewable position is possible while still being able to operate fully from your viewing position.
One serious problem worth noting with the TriLink Switcher is its 1080p performance on our review display. Switching the TriLink Switcher to a 1080p source causes our signal (both video and audio) to fail intermittently until the display was switched down to 1080i, this then settled the display back to functioning normally. This therefore renders this unit useless from displaying the best resolution from our PS3 console. Apparently this fault is only common with Samsung LCD TVs when running 1080p, so this may only affect a small number of consumers who own a Samsung 1080p compatible display and a PlayStation 3.
If you are using your HDMI display as the main source of audio you may also come across another minor problem with the TriLink Switcher. Switching to our second source cut out the HDMI audio completely, switching back to the PS3 was fine but switching to our up-scaling DVD recorder left us with picture and no audio. By switching off the DVD recorder and back on again this cured the problem, but this is an unacceptable solution and something that shouldn’t have to be done each time a new input source is selected. Just like the 1080p issue this isn’t necessarily a fault with the TriLink Switcher itself but more of a compatibility issue with our source devices, something JOYTECH could have tested further during their research and development of the device. With this said you will not have this issue if you listen to your AV sources through an AV receiver or Home Cinema Hi-FI via a digital optical out or analogue connection.
If a revised unit was developed we would have liked to see all the connection, 1080p and audio faults seen to as well as locating all of the connection ports on the back of the unit rather than on all four sides of the device. This would make the unit wider to accommodate them but with what JOYTECH has achieved with the TriLink Switcher’s current size it is doable without increasing its size greatly. A wider unit will also help with using high end cables that owners may struggle with the current TriLink Switcher as its ports are a little too close together. With all the connections being at the back we would therefore have liked to of seen the IR sensor embed into the front of the unit, to help cut the use of all these additional wires in an already spaghetti junction mess of cables commonly found on a typical AV setup.
So to conclude, if you are after a three way multiport HDMI switch and you listen to your digital audio through an AV Amp or stereo and you don’t have a Samsung 1080p LCD TV, then you can’t go wrong with the cheap alternative of JOYTECH’s TriLink HDMI Switcher. At such a competitive price it is an ideal solution for a AV/Console setup, but we warn you to be careful of the possible compatibility issues of the various sources you will be connecting to this device.
You can purchase the HDMI TriLink Switcher and other JOYTECH peripherals at the JOYTECH Store – www.joytechstore.net. Alternatively support the site and buy the HDMI TriLink Switcher from Play.com for £29.99 by clicking here.