What is a Video Splitter?
A video splitter, also known as a video distribution amplifier, enables the video signal from a single video source to be replicated and simultaneously broadcasted to multiple displays. The unit’s input is connected to a video source, like a DVD player, and the outputs are connected to different displays, such as flat screen TVs.
Video splitter models vary in the type of signals they broadcast. Some video splitters support an analog signal (VGA, S-Video, component video, composite video), while other video splitters support a digital signal (HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort). Many video splitters also support analog and/or digital audio signals. Video splitters are ideal for many applications where high quality video on multiple displays is needed, including: digital signage, tradeshows, point-of-sale retail stores, airports, and classrooms.
Standard Video Splitter vs Video Splitter with Built-in Extender
There are two main types of video splitters: standard video splitters and video splitters/extenders (also known as video splitters with built-in CATx or fiber optic extension). With a standard video splitter, the video source and displays directly connect to the splitter. A video splitter/extender system, on the other hand, consists of two components: the video broadcast unit, which connects to the video source, and a receiver for each remote display. The units are interconnected by CATx cable or fiber optic cable, depending on the model.
Both types of splitters serve the same function of replicating the video signal from a video source and broadcasting the signal to multiple displays. However, video splitters/extenders offer more flexibility because the displays can be located at further distances – allowing the displays to be placed in different rooms within a building.
Active vs Passive Splitting
Active video splitters have a powered signal driver or amplifier that boosts the power of the original signal level to avoid quality loss from the splitting process. This allows the output signals to match the strength of the input and enable the signal to be sent over a longer distance without any degradation of quality. Comparatively, passive video splitters use impedance-matching components, which do not require power. Some potential issues caused by passive video splitters include a weak signal due to attenuation and ghosting as a result of impedance mismatch.
While both analog and digital signals can be used with active splitting, passive splitting is almost exclusively used for analog video. Digital signals do not lend themselves to passive splitting due to the difficulty in matching impedance without significant attenuation. Additionally, with the prevalence of content protection, such as HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), passive splitters are unable to provide the decryption and encryption process required to display the video signals on multiple displays.
Network Technologies (NTI) offers a variety of active video splitters and video splitters/extenders for A/V applications that require high quality video on multiple monitors. NTI’s video splitters are hardware-based solutions known for their ease of use, reliability, high performance, and crisp and clear video resolutions. Video signals supported include: DVI, HDMI, VGA, S-Video, and Component video. Video splitters/extenders offered can locate displays at distances up to 1,000 feet away over CAT5 cable and 3,280 feet away over fiber optic cable.