Sometimes all you need is a simple product that does one thing, and does it well - at an affordable price. If you have an HDTV with only a single HDMI input and multiple HDMI sources, you need an HDMI switcher. New displays may have multiple inputs, and A/V receivers are beginning to provide HDMI switching as a matter of course, so if you're building a system from scratch, you may be able to consolidate your video switching in your reciever or display rather than buy a separate component. Finally, if you have just a single HDMI component, you won't need this either.
However, if you bought an HDTV in the past few years (or are buying a budget model today) and you don't have enough HDMI inputs, you need one of these. I pointed out Gefen's entry in this space last year; that was an HDMI-to-DVI model that retailed for $300. More recently, XTremeMac sent over their XTremeHD 4 Port HDMI Switcher and it does exactly what it's supposed to do all in HDMI with minimal hassle and at much lower cost ($99). With similar styling to Apple's Mac mini, the Switcher is small and looks nice on the equipment rack. Sources can be switched manually or using the included remote control. You'll want to add its codes to a macro on your universal remote control (Logitech's Harmony system makes this very, very easy) or you'll quickly tire of remembering which input covers what. But this is no fault of the product, which worked without a hitch switching between a TiVo HD and an LG HDTV tuner/DVD player outputting to a JVC LCoS rear projection HDTV.
I could not do a double blind test with/without the Switcher in the signal chain, but I have noticed no degredation of the signal from either source. I do seem to be getting more instances of HDMI handshake failure when I switch back and forth than when I would connect just a single source and leave it connected. (The TV's copy protection circuit gets temporarily confused and puts up a notice saying that the source is not supported; this usually goes away with the next command to the source, but sometimes requires switching the source back and forth again). It seems to be an issue with the TV, not the switch itself. I had a nice chat with an HDMI spokesperson at the CES Preview event in New York last night, and while he admitted it was a common issue, he assures me that newer gear has worked out all the compatibility issues. Of course, newer gear tends to have more HDMI inputs and outputs as well, so anyone who needs a switcher should be aware that their source and display may not like each other as much as they ought to.
The XTremeHD 4 Port Switcher is simply named, performs a complicated task simply, and doesn't cost too much. If you need a basic HDMI switcher, I can easily recommend this one.