The HDMI Cable Scam

If you’ve ever purchased an HDTV from an electronics retailer, then you’ve likely been talked to about HDMI cables. See, HDMI cables themselves are pretty amazing technology. It wasn’t that long ago that it took many cables to get your TV signal and sound from your cable box or DVD player to your TV. If you had a few devices, then just forget about it. The cables behind your TV were a mess. TV cabinets had to be built just to hide the ugly tangle of cables. HDMI cables saved the day by being able to carry high-quality HD signal, as well as sound, in a single cable. I don’t think a cable could get an easier.

Frankly, understanding the pricing of HDMI cables is much more complicated than actually buying and using the cable. An HDMI cable is an HDMI cable. If it works, it works. There’s no such thing as a premium HDMI cable. A good rule to follow is to get the best TV for the most money you’re willing to spend, and then when you buy your HDMI cables, buy the cheapest one you can find from a reliable retailer you feel comfortable with.

If you’d like to read more from people with a lot more technical expertise than me, check out testing done by PCWorld. Leslie Chard, HDMI Licensing President, stated that the HDMI licensing spec requires that HDMI cables lose less than one pixel per billion during transmission. He then states that even if a cable were to lose one out of each thousand pixels, you wouldn’t notice any difference. In its testing, with cables ranging in price for $10 to $300, PCWorld found that “you can expect flawless performance from any 4-meter cable, regardless of price.”

Even with this information readily available, cable companies and electronics retailers continue to make huge margins from selling premium cables. When someone drops $2,000 on a new 3D HDTV, it’s easy to convince them that they are going to want a premium $300 cable to get the most out of their system. To see an example of this, check out this cable I found on Best Buy’s website:

Best Buy Expensive HDMI Cable

This cable may seem expensive at $700 (the price of a nice 42″ HDTV), but once you take advantage of Best Buy’s “Great Financing Offer”, it can be had for a low low monthly payment! Can you imagine getting financing to pay for an HDMI cable?! I think I made the mistake of thinking this is a normal HDMI cable. I didn’t realize it had magical powers. As you can see above, this cable has great ratings, so there must be something special about it. Alas, there is.

Best Buy HDMI Cable Review

After reading about these benefits, how could somebody not finance one immediately?

In all seriousness, when buying an HDMI cable, as stated before, go for the cheapest you can find from a retailer you’re comfortable with. A favorite of online deal hunters is Monoprice.com. Monoprice cables will generally run you under $5. Shipping isn’t the fastest, but it comes cheap, and they’ve been around a long time. I’ve personally purchased cables from Monoprice and I recommend them. The cables are well-built. However, you can also get affordable, reliable cables from retailers you’re used to using. Amazon.com actually has its own branded cables, which it calls AmazonBasics. The Amazon HDMI cables will cost you about $10. These support the latest HDMI standards and will work with any HDTV you throw at it, whether it is 2D, 3D, 480 Hz, or whatever other spec your TV is. Whichever you choose to use, you’re going to get a great cable that does everything you need it to, and you will no longer be buying into the HDMI scam.

 

One Response to “The HDMI Cable Scam”

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  1. kermit says:

    Oh man, and I paid $60 for my last HDMI cable. Good info to know to safe myself next time.

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