HDMI woes
March 16, 2011 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Can someone tell me what's going on with my HDMI setup? I can't get it to work consistently. Sometimes it works fine, other times it says that nothing's plugged in. Sometimes, the screen goes pink.

I have my computer (featuring an AIT Radeon HD 5670 videocard) and my Xbox 360 both are plugged into one of these using a couple of these. On the other end is an HP 2210m

Please explain this to me because I've been looking all over the net for an answer and I just don't get it.

1) When I hook up the switch, the computer makes a "device unplugged" noise and resets the desktop resolution - is there any way to make this not happen?

1.5) Once I plugged it in and the monitor said "Please change resolution to 1920x1040" - but, without being able to see the screen, how would I do that, right?

2) If I turn off the monitor and turn it back on, it says "check cable," as if there was a problem - but it was just working one minute ago!

So here's a typical scenario. I have the computer on. I turn the xbox on. The hdmi switch automatically switches to the Xbox. The computer makes the "unplugged peripheral" noise.

The monitor shows the Xbox, and works fine.

But then I want to check metafilter, so I hit the button that switches it back to the PC. That works fine. OK, metafilter is still awesome, good to know. I switch back to the xbox. Computer goes "Dingdong"

But, now the monitor says "Check cables." I can't do anything to get it to show the xbox, without turning the xbox off and on again.

So I switch back to the PC. I have to click through the monitor's "source" menu, switch it to VGA and back to HDMI. Now it works.

Time to switch back to XBOX. Hey, it works fine this time! Ok, now back to computer.


please.... help..... why is this happening to me? Is there anything I can do to make it so I can just hit a button or something and switch between two devices without all this headache? Is there anything I can do to avoid it in the future?

What seems to work is if I get an error, I unplug everything and plug it back in, then I use the monitor's menu to switch it to VGA and back to HDMI. But there's got to be a better way, right?
posted by rebent to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
When you plug a HDMI display into a HDMI source, the display tells the source what resolution it supports and normally that's what you want the source to output. So the default configuration for your video card is for it to output whatever resolution is listed in that EDID/DDC packet that the display sends. That's why the resolution keeps changing every time you do something with the switch. You might be able to prevent that if you force a resolution and refresh rate instead of leaving it to autodetect. (This may require a utility like PowerStrip.) It also sounds like this cheap switch is not very intelligent about handling the switch events and it's not correctly passing along the EDID/DDC handshake information, which is why unplugging and then re-plugging gets it going again. I would try a different model.

Also, why not connect the computer using DVI and the Xbox using HDMI and then do the switching at the TV instead of with a box? I suppose that might not work if you need to watch protected content on the PC like a bluray.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:30 PM on March 16, 2011

The price of that HDMI switcher gives me the willies. Your problems very much sound like HDMI signaling issues. I would use a full fledged AV receiver to do the HDMI switching. If I didn't want/need all that extra fancyness, I would go with a switcher from Monoprice.com.
posted by fief at 9:48 PM on March 16, 2011

Seconding eliminating the switcher out of the equation. Hook up the computer via a DVI cable ($5.12 on monoprice for a 6-foot cable).

To isolate the problem, start doing a few tests. With an arbitrarily selected cable 1, hook the PC directly to the monitor, check for issues, if there is a problem, switch cable and you can figure out if it's the cable or the PC. Otherwise test the Xbox and cable 2, again check for issues. I suspect that you'll find the cables, Xbox and PC all work fine, and will have isolated issues to that switcher.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:05 PM on March 16, 2011

Response by poster: So, even if I got a higher-priced HDMI switcher, the problem is that the Xbox would stop receiving the signal from the monitor telling it what resolution to output, correct?

So it sounds like an HDMI switcher is not the solution to my problem?
posted by rebent at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2011

Switching digital signals is hard. You can't just use a physical switch, you effectively need some electronics to do it right. This is why I was scared of the price.

While a cheap switch might work for many situations, it will also behave very much like you are seeing. A full fledged AV receiver is almost certainly going to be designed to the actual HDMI specs, which define how to do switching, and is also likely certified by the body that defines the HDMI spec. The monoprice switches are likely designed to the right spec, but likely lack the real certification that they are designed such.

I am but a happy customer of Monoprice (they are basically the only place I buy cables from). I do not have any of their HDMI switches. I do have a few of their VGA and DVI switches and am happy with them. Monoprice has not yet done me wrong and the return policy is good even when the customer is fickle.
posted by fief at 10:20 AM on March 17, 2011

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