Apogee HDMI 3x1 Mini Switcher review: Apogee HDMI 3x1 Mini Switcher

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The Good Excellent design with a small footprint; doesn't need external power supply; includes an external IR receiver; handles 1080p video and high-resolution audio.

The Bad Only three HDMI inputs; lacks custom-installer-friendly features seen on some more expensive switchers.

The Bottom Line The Apogee HDMI 3x1 Mini HD Digital Switcher's power-free design and affordable price tag puts it at the top of HDMI switcher heap--so long as you can live with just three inputs.

8.3 Overall

HDMI connectivity is quickly becoming a must-have connection type for all kinds of gadgets. But while the list of gadgets with an HDMI output is growing, the number of HDMI inputs on HDTVs and receivers is limited. That's where HDMI switchers come into play, allowing you to add more HDMI-enabled gadgets to your home-theater setup without having to replace your TV or receiver. For the most part, HDMI switchers are pretty similar, but we found that the Apogee HDMI 3x1 Mini HD Digital Switcher was able to stand out from the crowd with its tiny footprint, modest price tag and--the big win--the fact that it doesn't need power.

The Apogee HDMI Mini 3-port switcher has a simple design, but it's excellent for its purpose. It's the smallest switcher we've reviewed, coming in at 0.75 inch high by 3.13 inches long by 2.25 inches wide--not much larger than a standard iPod. On one side are the three HDMI inputs and on the opposite side is the HDMI output plus a power port (although you don't need it). On the top are three LEDs indicating which input you've selected, plus a select button to cycle through them. We could complain about the glossy finish or the plastic construction, but honestly, neither of those really matter for a product destined to live behind your AV stack. The main takeaway is that the Apogee is small and won't take up much shelf space.

The included clicker has buttons for each input, but we would have preferred a full-size remote.

The included credit-card-style remote is a bit of a letdown, as we much prefer full-size remotes, like the one included with the Monoprice 5x1 HDMI switcher. On the other hand, the Apogee does have discrete remote codes for each input, so you'll have no problem using it with a universal remote. An activity-based universal remote, such as the Logitech Harmony 550, will also make it easier to integrate the switcher with your AV setup, as it will automatically select the correct input on the switcher based on what activity you select (such as, "Watch TV").

The external IR receiver lets you stash the actual switcher out of sight.

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