Question: Why Do Some Blu-ray Disc Players Have HDMI Inputs?
Answer: Since their debut in 2006, Blu-ray Disc players certainly have evolved, first out as just spinners for Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs, then adding USB ports for accessing content from flash drives, then, in some cases, incorporating both SACD and DVD-Audio Disc playback, then Network and Internet Streaming, and, more recently, 3D. Now, another addition is finding its way to a small, but growing, number of Blu-ray Disc players: HDMI inputs.
That's right, in addition to the HDMI output that is characteristic of all Blu-ray Disc players, some players now sport one or two HDMI inputs as well. However, they are not being added for the purpose you might think.
No, the HDMI inputs are not being included for recording high-definition TV or video content onto Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray Disc Players cannot record, and, in the U.S. market there are no standalone Blu-ray Disc Recorders marketed to consumers (for the reasons why, read my article: Are There Blu-ray Disc Recorders?).
So, if adding HDMI inputs to a Blu-ray Disc Player has nothing to do with video recording, then why are they there? Actually, there are several reasons why a manufacturer might include such a feature:
1. Using the Blu-ray Disc player as an HDMI switcher. With the proliferation of HDMI-equipped source devices, including cable and satellite boxes, network media players and streamers, game consoles, and even camcorders and digital cameras, many older HDTVs may just not have enough HDMI inputs. So, instead of having to buy an additional HDMI switcher, why not just add one or two additional pass-through inputs on a Blu-ray Disc player? Sounds practical, so a few players now have this feature.
2. To take advantage of the video processing capabilities of the Blu-ray Disc Player. Of all the video components in a home theater setup, chances are, a Blu-ray Disc player will have the best on-board video processing capabilities. So, with that in mind, if you add a couple of HDMI inputs to the player, users can pass through other HDMI source signals through the player, not only to take advantage of any HDMI switching capability, but also to improve the signal going to the TV by using the player's built-in video processing capabilities.
3. MHL. In addition the previously outlined reasons why a Blu-ray Disc player might be equipped with one or more HDMI inputs, another practical application is to accommodate MHL-enabled devices such as smart phones, tablets, and the Roku Streaming Stick (see entire list of MHL-enabled products).
Normally, this would require an MHL-compatible HDMI input on your TV - which may not be available. However, if you you have incorporated it into a Blu-ray Disc player (a new Blu-ray Disc player is a lot less expensive than a new TV), the player can pass the signal through and out its own HDMI output to the TV. In other words, your TV doesn't have to have an MHL-compatible HDMI input, if your Blu-ray Disc player has one. This opens more flexible access of photo, video, and streaming content on your TV that you may not be able to accept currently.
4. Google TV or Android TV. If you have a Blu-ray Disc player that incorporates the Google TV operating system, then that player would have at least one HDMI input. The reason is, in order to take full advantage of Google TV's or Android TV's search and organization capabilities for both internet and cable/satellite content, your cable/satellite box needs to be routed through a Google TV or Android TV-equipped Blu-ray Disc player on its way to the TV.
If you either own, or plan to purchase, a Blu-ray Disc player, and see that it has an HDMI input feature, it may provide one or more of the functions listed above.
For additional reference on connections found on Blu-ray Disc players, other than HDMI inputs, check out my photo-illustrated article: Typical Connections Found on a Blu-ray Disc Player.