HDMI connectivity is quickly becoming a must-have connection type for all types of gadgets. But while the list of gadgets with an HDMI output is growing, the number of HDMI inputs on HDTVs and receivers is limited--you'll need to spend a lot of money before you see more than three inputs on either. That's where HDMI switchers come into play, allowing you to add more HDMI-enabled gadgets to your home theater setup without paying the big premium on your HDTV or AV receiver. The Oppo HM-31 offers switching for three inputs and is priced about average at $99.
The Oppo HM-31 is the best-looking HDMI switcher we've tested. The top of the switcher is black brushed metal, and the front and sides have a glossy black look. There are three LED lights to indicate which source is selected, plus an additional LED to indicate power. To the right is a Select button, so you can toggle through the inputs if the remote goes missing. It's tough to make something as utilitarian as an HDMI switcher look good, but Oppo pulls it off. The included remote is a weakness, as it has the slim, credit-card-style design, although we appreciate the separate buttons for each input. We definitely prefer full-size remotes, such as the one provided by the Monoprice 5x1 HDMI switcher.
With only three HDMI inputs, the HM-31 was the least endowed switcher we tested. The three inputs and one output will allow you to switch between three connected devices. As mentioned above, there are discrete remote codes for each input, which make it easier to program with a universal remote, and universal remotes make it much easier to integrate an HDMI switcher into your home theater setup. For example, with an activity-based universal remote such as a Logitech Harmony, you can simply select Watch TV and it will change the respective inputs on the switcher, the TV, and the AV receiver without your needing to remember which input is which. Unlike most of the other switchers we tested, the HM-31 does include some custom installer-friendly features such as an RS-232 port and an IR input.