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Bandridge SCART switches seem to be a bit of an enigma. Many users report that they work exceptionally well and are a perfect fit for any high-end gaming setup. Other users say they’re just as unreliable as the majority of other commercially available SCART switches. Now, thanks once again to our supporter Clarke Gibson, we’ve been able to borrow a Bandridge switch and test it for ourselves.
The Bandridge switch is a 5 port passive manual switch, that means no external power supply is needed. The switch has a good range of connectivity options, there’s an S-Video and composite hook-up on the front and a stereo audio breakout on the back, as well as a 3.5mm headphone socket on the front of the unit. If an input is active and producing a signal, a small red LED will glow on the front of the unit. Inputs are selected by push button, with each button making a reassuringly solid clunk when pressed.
Around the back, the five SCART inputs are spaced reasonably, so using thicker SCART cables should not be a problem.
After having connected the unit to our PEXHDCAP card, we almost immediately encountered a problem with our composite sync (clean sync) equipped SNES and Megadrive. For whatever reason, when using these particular SCART cables with the Bandridge, we couldn’t get a stable picture. Instead, we had to switch to our PAL SNES with a luma sync cable for our regular round of tests.
Apart from this minor incompatibility it has to be said the Bandridge switch performed pretty well. There was only the tiniest bit of brightness lost from the image, despite the switch being entirely passive. Under close scrutiny with the 240p test suite sharpness test you could arguably detect some sharpness had been removed from the image, but it was very marginal.
We’d also heard from other gamers that the Bandridge doesn’t properly isolate each SCART socket resulting in crosstalk. Indeed, since people have opened these switches and inspected their internals, it would seem that the switching mechanism isn’t terribly sophisticated. Neverthelss, we were unable to generate any noise or crosstalk by connecting and powering on other consoles.
Brightness/noise test:- Passed, no noticeable noise added, no noticeable brightness lost from picture.
Isolation test:- Passed, zero crosstalk from other inputs.
Conclusion:- The lack of compatibility for CSYNC cables is the biggest problem with this switch (though, perhaps predictably, not everyone experiences this problem). If you don’t need CSYNC or you’re willing to take a chance that this problem won’t rear its head with your particular setup, you could do a lot worse than the Bandridge switch. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find this particular model for sale anywhere, so we can’t comment on value. Bandridge also do an automatic version of this switch in the same enclosure, but that’s a different beast entirely so don’t be confused. If you can find one of these switches for around £20 on eBay then it’s worth taking a chance on, but don’t blow big bucks on a Bandridge as they aren’t completely free of issues.
This switch has now been tested for picture quality using a capture card, click here to see how it performed.