While you can use the Crestron HD-MD8x1 on its own, it's best with a full Crestron system and many do-it-yourselfer don't like any product that they can't, well... do themselves. Respectfully, I have yet to meet the end consumer who has successfully programed his or her own Crestron, although I am sure they are out there, but Crestron is as good as the person programming it. The brand sometimes gets beaten up because poor programmers don't design the best systems. That's not fully fair as the hardware is pretty much rock solid but the gear often gets the blame for poor programming.
At $1,800, the look of this component is anything but audio jewelry. For the end user not looking to put the Crestron HD-MD8x1 in an equipment rack, they shouldn't expect industrial design that looks like a Classé preamp. In fact it looks more like a Carver amp from 1988 than a modern piece of AV equipment. Installed in an equipment rack like my Middle Atlantic AXS rack - the look is no issue. Sitting out next to a Krell, Classé or Mark Levinson AV preamp - this switcher looks pretty pedestrian.
There is no question the Crestron HD-MD8x1 is an expensive HDMI switcher. It's one of the most expensive that I have found to date; however it performs its simple tasks better than any HDMI switcher I have tested to date and for that it is a pure luxury in my system. Having inputs hop from DirecTV to AppleTV to Blu-ray and back with ease is worth the high asking price. Crestron didn't make HDMI the pain in the ass that format is. What Crestron did was provide a meaningful solution that anyone can use to get rock-solid HDMI switching in any mid to high-end home theater system.
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