CNET reader Jibran writes:
Hi, I need your help. Currently I have my PS3 connected to my 5.1 AV receiver through the PS3's optical out. The TV is connected via HDMI. I'm planning to get an Xbox 360 also, but my dilemma is that how do I connect the Xbox 360 to the same AV receiver? There is only one optical input on the receiver.
Anxiously looking forward to your help.
Great question, Jibran. There are several options.
Just so everyone is on the same page, it seems clear that Jibran's receiver doesn't have HDMI switching, and that his TV has available HDMI inputs.
The easiest solution is by far the most annoying. You just swap the optical cable from the PS3 to the Xbox, or have two optical cables (labeled, mind you) and plug in the one you need. For gaming systems, this isn't as obnoxious as it would be with other equipment. It's doubtful you'd need to play each system back to back, so the occasional swap wouldn't be brutal.
Still, not elegant.
Why all HDMI cables are the same
When is the best time to buy an HDTV?
Geoff's HDTV and Home Theater Resource Center and Infotacular
The best option is a new receiver, as models with HDMI switching are down to a few hundred dollars. This way you just run everything via HDMI. This would also allow you to get the high-resolution audio formats like Dolby True HD, which don't transmit over optical cables.
Somewhere in between these two options are optical switchers. Monoprice.com has a three-into-one model for $6.34. You could plug the PS3 and Xbox into this, then just press the button for the one you want to play (and switch to that input on the TV).
Have a different solution for Jibran? Post it in the comments below.
Got a question for Geoff? Click the "E-mail Geoffrey Morrison" link below to e-mail, wait for it...Geoffrey Morrison! Put "Morrison's Mailbag" somewhere in there. If it's witty, amusing, and/or a good question, you may just see it in a post just like this one. I can also offer advice on hair styling products. I cannot, however, tell you what TV to buy.