All true gamers know that having one console is not enough. We need at least three horded around our TVs for our lives to function.
The problem is, it can be a pain in the ass having to stretch behind your TV and rummage through the spaghetti junction of cables each time you want to swap the console connected to your TV. Luckily, nifty scart switch boxes have been the answer to all our problems over the past few years.
But the with the Xbox 360 and PS3 console churning out hi-def pictures through newfangled component cables (the ones with red, blue and green connectors), our old RGB splitters are redundant and we need a new switch box.
That's what the Control Center 540C is all about. You'll be able to plug an Xbox 360 and up to four other component-type machines (like the PS3) into a single input on your telly.
It's not just for high-def signals though, as you can also connect five S-video inputs and five composite (red, white and yellow connectors) through it, as well as five digital optical inputs for a full 5.1 surround-sound action.
In addition to all that audio-visual trickery, the Control Centre also acts as an Ethernet hub, allowing you to connect five devices into one Ethernet internet connection. With all these ports, the back of the machine it like a little colony of connectors.
It's all easy enough to use too. Every port is labelled up, so you know exactly where to plug in everything. Once you're all hooked up, you'll need to plug it into a mains supply - unlike a simple scart splitter, this box of tricks requires its own power.
Selecting which input to use is done with an easy-to-use menu interface on the LCD panel on the front of the Xbox 360-shaped unit, and with the included remote control you needn't even move from your seat.
Clearly, with all those ports and whatnot, it does much more that your average scart splitter box, but we still have to ask: does it need to be this big? Although slightly thinner, it's the same height and length as a 360, clearly mimicking the aesthetics of the console.
The LCD screen even rotates its text depending on whether you position the machine horizontally or vertically, AND it has removable faceplates too. Yet, looking through the air vents on the side, it's almost entirely hollow.
The 360 is big enough and takes up enough space without a similarly-shaped brick placed next to it. We'd have preferred a smaller, slicker-looking unit that could surely have been a quarter of its size.
The only other problem is cost - it's Â£89.99. Sure, this is one hell of a useful device, and other similar products on the market cost well over Â£100. That makes it cheap in its market; that doesn't make it cheap.
The Control Centre is a splitter box. A fancy one at that, but it still only serves as a device that saves you from swapping cables over at the back of your TV. So you need to ask yourself, are you lazy enough do you want to pay Â£90 to save yourself from that relatively small burden?
If the answer is yes, then go for it - the Control Centre 540C works brilliantly. If not, then you might want to wait and see how the prices fair in a year or so, when you're likely to have more HD-compatible devices to hook up to your TV. Like a PS3.
A massively useful machine that's easy to use and performs superbly, but do you want to pay Â£90 for it? We don't.
- Vast compatiblity
- Easy to use
- Hugely multifunctional
- Too large
- Costs to much for a video splitter