Octava 5x1 HDMI Switch Review

The Octava HDMI Switch that we are testing at Geekanoids was kindly supplied to us by The Media Factory, who supply a number of home theatre solutions. Anything from cabling right up to a top of the range plasma screen.

The Octava HDMI switch offers a solution to a problem that we will all no doubt encounter over the coming months. With the introduction of so many high definition products onto the market, that all use an HDMI connection, screen manufacturers are often slow to keep up. Take a look at the back of your screen, if you are lucky enough to have a high definition screen, you may have one or two HDMI sockets at the most. Well, the PS3 is just around the corner, your upscaling DVD player already takes up one, another for the SKY HD box, oh and don't forget that new XBox 360 version 2, which is bound to be HDMI... you see the problem !

Basically, the idea of the Octava HDMI switch is to offer a number of inputs and outputs for high definition devices. There are four versions available from The Media Factory, a 3x1, 3x2, 4x1 with digital audio switching, and the 5x1 version that we are looking at here. For £149.95 plus delivery, you get five HDMI inputs and one output that you feed to your screen. Five inputs should see you right for the foreseeable future, so the asking price really does represent great value for money…

The unit itself is an all metal affair, powder coated in silver paint, and really does feel well built. On the front of the unit there are five blue LED's which show you the input you are viewing. The front also sports the infrared receiver (for the supplied remote) and a Smart Scan button.
When you switch the unit on the LED's cycle and you are ready to go. The Smart Scan feature is on by default and it really is SMART. When you switch an HDMI source on, for example your HD DVD player, the switch senses this and changes to the correct input. If no devices are on, the switch goes into standby mode. Smart Scan can be switched off with the button on the front if you need to do so.
The supplied remote control also allows you to manually select inputs, which is handy if a device does not trigger the Smart Scan. In our tests this feature worked perfectly and the Octava switch really was transparent to the system we were testing.

Each device we used was first tested without the switch in place. The Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player which delivers a superb, crystal clear picture was unaffected by introducing the Octava switch. Onto the Panasonic DMR-EX85, which is an HDD recorder with upscaling features, and again the picture was very clear with or without the switch in use.
The Octava HDMI switch uses a proprietary design called Clear Eye, which claims to improve the digital video signals. Although this really needs to be measured properly, with the naked eye I was certain that the Toshiba picture did take on a little sharper appearance. Over longer cable runs I would expect this technology to improve things even more.

The big question is if this is a good buy? Well, if you need an HDMI switch then yes, it is a great piece of kit, and very well built too. The 3x1 version costs just £119.95, so for the extra £30 you are getting two very valuable extra inputs. I would definitely buy the 5x1 version if funds allowed. The fact that it supports up to 1080P resolution, and that it works so easily and transparently, it comes very highly recommended.

Product: Octava Automatic 5x1 HDMI Switch (HDS5-UK)
Price: £149.95 + delivery
Supplied by: The Media Factory
Contact: +44 (0)1968 661 803