DVDO Quick6 HDMI Switcher

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DVDO Quick6 HDMI Switcher

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DVDO-Quick6-HDMI-switcher-review-small.jpgDVDO's Quick6 is an HDMI switcher that's loaded with goodies designed to add newfangled functionality to old-fangled AV systems. Of course, the Quick6's first function is to give you the necessary ports to incorporate more HDMI-equipped sources into your system, from a cable/satellite receiver to a Blu-ray player to a gaming console to a streaming media player. The box sports six HDMI 1.4a inputs, as well as two HDMI outputs that can be set up in Mirror mode (to send the same signal to two displays simultaneously) or AVR mode (to split the video and audio). The Quick6 also has digital audio outputs so, if you're still highly attached to your older AV receiver or preamp that lacks HDMI, you can route audio via an optical or coaxial output. RS-232 is available for integration into an advanced control system, and the package includes an IR remote that has dedicated buttons for nearly every important function. Finally, there's a USB port for firmware updates; I performed one update during my time with the Quick6, and it was an easy, straightforward process (not as easy as updating over a network, mind you, but easy enough).

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As for those newfangled features I mentioned, the box supports pass-through of 3D and 4K/Ultra HD, and two of the inputs are compatible with Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), meaning that you can directly connect an MHL-compatible mobile device and watch content with up to 1080p video and multi-channel uncompressed audio. The Quick6's primary HDMI output supports Audio Return Channel (ARC), so you can transmit audio from internal TV sources (like the ATSC tuner or Smart TV services) back to the Quick6 over a single HDMI cable. Picture-in-picture isn't exactly a newfangled feature but, given its absence or severely limited functionality on many new HDTVs, its inclusion on the Quick6 feels refreshingly new, allowing you to watch a second HDMI source simultaneously in a window format (but not side-by-side).

The Quick6 is a very basic-looking black box that measures about 12.75 inches long by seven inches deep by one inch high. The front panel includes a power button, an LED for each input to show when it's active, and a button to cycle through any inputs that have sources connected to them. The onscreen display is equally vanilla in design, but simple enough to navigate.

The Quick6 incorporates Silicon Image's InstaPrevue and InstaPort S technologies. InstaPrevue allows you to view thumbnails of every active source that's connected to the box and then easily switch to the desired input, so you're never left wondering which source you've connected to which input. You can customize each source's name to accompany the thumbnail. Video playback within each thumbnail is choppy at best, but it gets the point across. InstaPrevue is a convenient perk, but I have the same concern here that I had when I encountered it in the Onkyo TX-NR515 receiver: The thumbnails are way too small. I understand that, if you're using all six HDMI inputs, those thumbnails could take up a lot of screen real estate; still, in their current form, they are comically minuscule. We should at least have the option to make them bigger, if we choose. Also, InstaPrevue is only helpful if multiple sources are active at the same time, which could be rare in many systems. In my case, my Roku 3 is always active, and my Dish Network Hopper shows a screen saver even when it's powered down, so at least those two sources always appeared in InstaPrevue.

A far more meaningful feature, in my opinion, is InstaPort S, which allows for nearly instantaneous switching between video sources. In many HDMI-equipped TVs and receivers, the HDCP handshake between the source component and the given input is not made until you switch to that input, which is why it often takes many seconds before the video appears. InstaPort S allows the Quick6 to establish the handshake immediately when you connect the device. Indeed, the Quick6 is aptly named, as I was able to jump from input to input with virtually no video lag, much faster than any recent TV or non-InstaPort receiver I've used.

The Quick6 also has automatic input switching that you can customize in the setup menu. You can set the box to "Auto Scan on Disconnect," which will cause the Quick6 to switch automatically to the lowest-numbered input when you disconnect the current source. You can also select "Auto Scan + Goto New," which adds the perk that the box will switch automatically to a newly connected source. I experimented with both of these options, and both worked as advertised.

In other areas of performance, I saw no signal degradation between the OPPO BDP-103 and various TVs when I added the Quick6 in between. The 1080p pattern on the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark 2nd Edition disc looked the same, as did other test patterns and real-world demos I tried. I have used the Quick6 pretty extensively over the past few months as part of my TV review process, to compare multiple source types simultaneously on two displays. There has been a lot of adding and subtracting of components, a lot of quickly connecting and disconnecting devices, and the Quick6 has performed flawlessly, with zero handshake issues. I've had no problem passing 3D through the Quick6, and I was also able to pass an Ultra HD resolution (upconverted Blu-ray from the BDP-103) on to the Sony XBR-55X900A UHD TV.

It's worth noting that, when the box is set to Mirror Mode to display the same signal on two displays, the Quick6 will transmit audio and video in the highest compatible format for both displays. In other words, if you connect a 720p TV and a 1080p TV, the signal will be sent at 720p to ensure compatibility with both displays. The Quick6's HDMI output can also be set for "AVR via HDMI," in which case the best possible video will always be sent to the TV through the main HDMI output and the best possible audio will be sent to your AVR through the Aux HDMI output.

I tested the Quick6's ARC function using the Samsung UN55F8000 LCD TV and was successful in getting the audio from the Smart Hub YouTube channel back to the Quick6 over HDMI, which was then passed on to a Harman/Kardon receiver with optical digital audio. You can only send ARC audio over the Quick6's digital audio outputs to your receiver; you can't send it via HDMI.

Finally, I tested the Mobile High-Definition Link using two devices: a Roku Stick and a Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9100 phone. The Quick6's #6 input purposefully has more space around it to accommodate a wider device like the Roku Stick, which plugs directly into the port with no additional cables required. I had no playback issues with the Roku being passed through the Quick6. To connect an MHL device like the Samsung phone requires a micro USB-to-HDMI adapter or cable. Once the smartphone is connected, your TV basically becomes a giant screen for your mobile device. I played some Angry Birds and Drift Mania, using the phone like a game controller as I watched the action on the big screen. I also watched a few YouTube videos and listened to music stored on the phone, all without draining the battery, because the Quick6 port even charges the device while it's attached.

Read about the high points and low points of the DVDO Quick6 on Page 2.

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