Video switches are sometimes also called video mixers or production switchers, and they are used to switch between multiple video or audio feeds. This allows those producing film to add second-party visual effects. Video switches cost from several hundred to several thousand pounds, so shoppers should look for sales or other deals whenever possible on the units they wish to purchase. However, shoppers may also find that shopping for video switches online saves a great deal of money. Websites such as eBay often offer a wide selection of video switches at competitive prices.
Individuals should thoroughly research the types of feeds they intend to use for video switches before purchasing video switches, as the types of video switches are determined by the types of video feeds they receive. Those buying video switches should determine the types of video switches to buy and the options they want included in their video switches, and then determine if they should also purchase any video switch accessories.
Determining the Type of Video Switches to Buy
There are several different types of video switches, which are differentiated by their output type and other capabilities. The most common types of video switches are matrix, HDMI, AVI, and DVI video switches. Shoppers should select the best types of video switches for their purposes based on the types of feeds they are likely to use.
AVI Video Switches
AVI video switches allow users to switch between AVI video and audio feeds using AVI cables. Because the advent of other, more efficient and higher quality signal transfer types and cables, the use of AVI cables and switches for audio and video has greatly declined. People are still able to find AVI video switches, but they are generally cheaper than other varieties and may be older production models, which can be difficult to find replacement parts or accessories for.
HDMI Video Switches
HDMI video switches feature feeds in all high-definition settings. HDMI cables are increasingly the most common video and audio feed signal cable variety. Buyers may find that HDMI switches, while quite expensive, also feature many of the most up-to-date accessories and options.
DVI Video Switches
DVI video switches incorporate feeds using DVI switches, which are commonly used in computer interfacing for the addition of digital special effects to video. However, the use of DVI cables has declined with the popularity of HDMI cables. Because of the substantial size of DVI cables and DVI ports, DVI video switches are oftentimes the largest option in physical dimensions, and they are relatively expensive compared to other types of video switches.
Matrix Video Switches
Matrix video switches combine the features of the above switches, seamlessly blending AVI, HDMI, and DVI switching capability. This allows individuals and producers mixing many different types of audio or video feeds to blend and convert the multiple stream types with one component. Matrix video switches can be fairly more expensive than other options because of this fact.
Fibre Optic Video Switches
Fibre optic video switches receive and transmit their signals using fibre optic cables. Both fibre optic cables and fibre optic video switches are among the most expensive options a production crew can use. However, on the plus side, they are also among the fastest options available.
Choosing Video Switch Options
Most video switches are available with various options, which eases the use of the switches with various other equipment or makes them more suited to some applications over others. Options include resolution range, switching speed, and number of signal inputs and outputs. Video switches with higher capabilities in these options are generally more expensive than those with less.
Most basic video switches have a resolution range up to 1080p, which is more than adequate to handle the vast majority of video feeds. However, some specialised or professional needs require that video switches be capable of handling a higher resolution. Any production crew should thoroughly understand their own needs before purchasing video switches, as making a purchase which is incapable of handling the correct resolution range can be an expensive mistake.
Switching speed is, of course, the speed at which video switches operate and performs their functions. Professional or specialised production centres are likely to need video switches with very high switching speeds, and these units are also likely to be far more expensive than their slower counterparts. The average switching speed for video switches can be up to 100 ns, while a high switching speed can exceed 200 ns.
Number of Signal Inputs or Outputs
Most basic video switches have four inputs and four outputs. However, many video switches are available with additional inputs, which allows producers to perform more complicated switching tasks. Shoppers should purchase video switches to fit the maximum number of inputs or outputs they may require, as it is generally more efficient to purchase high-end switches with slightly more inputs or outputs than needed regularly, than it is to need to purchase other switches at a later date.
Selecting Video Switch Accessories
A wide variety of accessories are available for use with video switches which serves to make the user interface more intuitive, improves the ease of mounting the switches to application, improves signal distribution, or even enhances the ease of a video switch installation. The addition of accessories can quickly meet or exceed the cost of the video switches themselves.
For those who need the operation of their video switches to be performed more rapidly using preset functions, the installation of keypad accessories is invaluable. Keypad accessories are generally connected via USBs, and can be mounted in walls, conference tables, or lecterns.
Remote Control Panels and Remote Controls
Remote control panels can be added to video switches so that various switching functions are initiated through the use of remote controls. Remote control panels are an excellent addition for switches which are used to frequently perform several simple and routine tasks. Remote control panels vary widely in expense based on the manufacturers and types of video switches they are meant to be used with.
Video Transcoding and Converting Output Boards
Video transcoding and converting output boards are used to convert the signals which switchers produce to high-definition or standard definition feeds. As some ancillary machines may be incapable of accepting feeds of one type or the other, some video production setups, such as those which distribute directly to televisions or other monitors, may find such an accessory invaluable.
RGB Scaler Output
RGB scalers are used to upscale or downscale the definition of feeds either before they are received by switches or after the switches produces them. Scalers are manufactured to scale feeds to a specific size, which should be researched by the buyers before scalers are purchased. Common definitions produced by scalers include 640 by 480 all the way through 1920 by 1200. Scalers can also be purchased which scale to HDMI specifications.
People intending to purchase video switches should ensure that they purchase the types of switches which are manufactured to the specifications of the video feeds they produce. Video switches generally come one in a few different types, including HDMI, AVI, DVI, and matrix varieties. HDMI, AVI, and DVI varieties each accept only the feeds for which they are named, while matrix video switches feature components allowing users to use multiple types of feeds. Buyers should also determine if video switch accessories are ideal for their applications.
Whatever types of video switches that individuals decide to purchase, they may want to consider skipping retail stores or manufacturers. Retail venues tend to offer video switches at relatively expensive prices. Shoppers may be able to find video switches for much cheaper prices through online avenues. Websites like eBay offer a great variety of video switches to buyers, while also offering them at comparatively inexpensive prices.