I have a first world problem. Actually, I have many. One of them is moving HDMI cables around from device to device. At any given moment on my office desk I have a desktop, two laptops and an Xbox. But I only have one monitor. This means that switching between devices can be awkward, as I unplug an HDMI cable from one and move it to the other. Admittedly this isn’t so bad with the laptops because of my USB-C hub. The desktop and Xbox are a pain, in part because their plugs are on the back and getting to them is awkward. The Kinivio HDMI Switch is the answer to my problem.
There are a ton of HDMI switches out on the market. Many monitors are also shipping with multiple HDMI outputs now too. The challenge is finding one with enough ports that doesn’t completely compromise image quality. For this I wanted a 4k image, that supported HDR and a decent frame rate. My monitor does not support 120 fps. At some point I will replace it with one that does. I’m looking forward to this because of the Xbox primarily. For now not having 120 fps on an HDMI switch is OK because the options are non-existent. The thing is 60 fps is pretty hard to find too. Most HDMI switches you come across top out at 30 fps, and the ones that do 60 fps often have terrible reviews. The Kinivio supports a 4k HDR image at 60 fps and has outstanding reviews on Amazon. It seemed like a unicorn, too good to be true.
Kinivio makes a 3-port and 5-port HDMI switch that runs at 60 fps and works great. They’re not cheap starting at $52.99, but they’re worth it because of their reliability and solid quality. The Kinivio is a metal box with a glossy plastic top and bottom. It honestly feels like a durable little hub. On the 3-port model the ports are all on the front. With the 5-port model there is an extra input on one side, and the power and out slots are on the other side. The front is a set of physical buttons that light up based upon which ports have connections and which one is currently being used. It includes a remote, which is cute but in my setup not particularly necessary.
A lot of HDMI switches include auto-switching. The switch will change over to a new input as it comes on. Most everything I’ve seen on the internet says this sort of automatic switching is flakey. I can’t tell if it’s my behavior or the Kinivio has cracked this nut, because the automatic switching has been consistently on point. At the end of a long work day I’ll go grab a beer, come back to my desk and turn on the Xbox. The Kinivio switches over and off I go. It has never switched over during the work day when the Xbox is downloading updates, which is a common complaint I saw on many HDMI switch reviews.
The image quality on the Kinivio is as good as directly plugging the Xbox into my monitor. I haven’t noticed any degradation in quality when watching videos or playing video games. I put the HDMI switch through the motions trying games like Star Wars: Squadrons and Overwatch and I also watched movies like Star Trek and Avengers: Endgame.
This little device seems trivial, but it’s one of those things that can make a big difference in day to day use. I had a hard time trying to track down a switch with more than 3 ports that supported 4k HDR and did 60 fps. Reviews were sparse and there seem to be a lot of poorly made options crowding the market. If you’re in need of an HDMI switch I recommend you check out the Kinivio, in my mind it’s the one to beat.