|Purelink by Dtrovision HDS-41R HDMI 4x1 Switcher|
|Home Theater Video Processors & Switchers Video Switchers|
|Written by Jeremy R. Kipnis|
|Monday, 01 May 2006|
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For otherwise nearly perfect products, there are always a few minor problems to consider as we tiptoe near the cutting edge of HDTV technology, content protection and overall digital connectivity, the most important of which is how the HDCP handshake does not always work through the 4 x 1 HDMI switcher. Several major incidents occurred (just using the switcher with the DVRs and a monitor) when I was greeted with the “Snowscreen of Death,” which would not go away without rebooting the DVRs. DVDs never had a problem on the Sony, Samsung or Theta DVD players I used for this review.
I also found that the unit would switch inputs with certain Sony and Scientific Atlanta remote control codes. This could be somewhat confusing, as it was not always clear whether the HDCP handshake had failed and was trying to reinitialize or I was suddenly on the wrong input. I am assured by Dtrovision president Minsoo Park that any conflicts will be dealt with as they are reported to the company.
The timing of the HDCP handshake is not entirely standardized, so there were also instances with all of my D-VHS recorders when I lost picture and sound and received a “your monitor or television is not HDCP-compliant – please use the analog connections” message, an angering event to say the least. Prerecorded copies of “Galaxy Quest,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Alien” all showed occasional handshake problems through the PureLink that did not occur with a direct connection. Interestingly, I found the FireWire 400 iLink IEEE 1394 direct connection to several of the 1080p monitors to produce a slightly less jitter-laden signal, resulting in a slightly better and more three-dimensional image with both the SA DVRs and the JVC D-VHSs. I wonder if we should reinstate iLink in all consumer displays as a simpler, more reliable way to distribute content up to 1080i.
The fiber optic extension kit worked, fine except for some occasional hanging pixels. I saw this only with still desktop images and still pictures at resolutions at or above 1280 x 1024p @ 60Hz. This problem only appeared occasionally, indicating that it is likely the result of a ground loop or other interference that has sufficient force and frequency to upset certain pixels, but not destroy the result as a whole.
The Dtrovision PureLink products bridge a great gap in our ever-growing world of digital audio and video frontiers. The HDS-41R HDMI 4 x 1 HDMI switcher is a great addition to any system that has more digital sources than available inputs. Its small size and ease of operation made it a pleasure to use for a variety of switching assignments. It comes with a small remote control and RS-232 interface, so that control of switching operations can be done seamlessly for the most part, aside from a few errant responses to other companies’ IR codes. It is also clear that Dtrovision offers a number of other switchers, including DVI, that allow for additional simplicity and ease in setting up many digital sources for a single system.
The OBC-010 Modular DVI Optical Transmission System also works wonderfully, making long-distance digital audio and video connections for a home theater or even a whole house-wide system a breeze. No other product can carry 1080p sources over a length up to 330 feet without objectionable degradation or no signal at all. The simplicity of set-up is plug and play. Make no mistake - this is a breakthrough product.
Finally, the DC-DA1 DVI to VGA converter worked precisely and repeatedly with all sources presented to it. In general, I enjoyed the versatility and simplicity of the PureLink components, so much that I will most likely purchase the review pieces for use at home and in the lab, rather than lose one of the only opportunities to configure our systems so directly and easily. And when reviewers start writing checks – you know the products are good.