TVs are getting better and better every year, with HD giving way to 4K and HDR, and 8K and beyond on the horizon, while screen sizes continue to balloon. And yet, despite all of that, there's not a single TV manufacturer on the planet that's capable of building a display with enough HDMI ports. Worse yet, some manufacturers even limit HDR capabilities to one or two of the available ports on TVs.
It remains a mystery why even high-end TVs tend to max out at three or four ports when the very people most likely to spend a grand on a telly are also likely to own multiple game consoles, a set-top box, a soundbar, a 4K Blu-ray player, and maybe a streaming stick, but the good news is that there is an easy way to add more HDMI ports to any TV - and you don't need to spend very much to do it.
Buy an HDMI switch
Yeah, the answer is unfortunately pretty much just to buy something: in this case an HDMI switch, a device that lets you switch between different HDMI inputs. Wonder how they came up with the name?
Amazon is filled with HDMI switches from various companies, but we've tested UGreen's three-port model (£15.29/$15.99), which we can confirm works well, and is dead easy to use. You simply connect the HDMI switch's output port to your TV via HDMI cable, and then connect up to three other HDMI devices into the switch. It's worth remembering that this means it will essentially grant you an extra two ports, since you're still using up one of the TV's ports to connect it all up.
The UGreen model features support for auto-switching, which means it will automatically switch the input to the most recently active device. To put that in practical terms, let's say you have both a streaming stick and a PS4 connected through the HDMI switch. If you're watching something on the streaming stick but then decide to play a game, turning on the PS4 will be enough to automatically switch the HDMI input to the games console. Turn the PS4 back off, and it will automatically revert to the streaming stick if that's still turned on.
On the off chance the auto-switch doesn't work, there's also a physical switch button on the device itself, along with a remote control to let you cycle through the inputs from your sofa. It supports a high enough data rate to deliver 4K at 30Hz or 1080p at 60Hz, which should be enough for most but won't quite keep up with [email protected] gaming if that's what you have in mind.
It's important to note that most HDMI switches - including the UGreen we recommend - won't come with an HDMI cable included, so unless you have a spare around you'll have to buy one to connect the switch itself to your TV. Check out our HDMI cable buying guide for tips on what to look for in an HDMI format, to make sure you get a fast enough cable to keep up with what you need it for.
HDMI switch vs HDMI splitter
Finally, it's worth quickly clarifying one common misconception: you don't want an HDMI splitter, which is the exact opposite of an HDMI switch.
While an HDMI switch allows you to take multiple HDMI inputs (your PS4, laptop and streaming stick, say) and connect them all to one TV port, a splitter is designed to take a single HDMI input and turn it into multiple outputs - that's what you need if you want to connect one game console up to multiple TVs, or both a TV and a projector.