HDMI cables – the great ripoff?


I know this is slightly off topic but I’ve been struggling to find any new and interesting freeware items of late, plus articles covering Windows 8 and browsers have been done to death and are beginning to wear a tad thin. Besides, I’ve just bought myself a brand new Panasonic 55″ plasma television so, for me at least, the subject is topical.

My original Panasonic 42″ plasma was purchased almost a decade ago, still going strong but I decided it was time for an upgrade – bigger is better, right? The old TV relied on connecting peripheral devices via such ‘old fashioned’ notions as AV jacks and S-video, so the new purchase moved me into the previously unvisited realm of HDMI and HDMI cables.

The first question which entered my head was, as human nature often dictates, how much? And I was absolutely amazed at the price differential – from a mere $10.00 all the way up to a staggering $250.00. Now I am by no means an expert in this field but I am no dunce either so the TV salesman’s pitch… the more expensive the cable the better… did not quite ring true. Time to head home and visit my old friend Google.

Ten minutes later, after some basic research, my suspicions were indeed confirmed – overwhelming opinion suggests there is basically no difference between $10.00 HDMI cables and those which cost $250.00. Forget gold plated and gas injected, forget signal degradation and enhanced performance, the plain fact of the matter is – digital either works it it doesn’t, there is nowhere in between. If you connect via a $10.00 cable and can see a picture and hear the audio that is as good as it is going to get, the situation will NOT be improved or enhanced using more expensive cables.

This is, of course, assuming standard device to television direct hookup over normal distances, from 5 to 10 feet. The situation may well differ for connections involving much longer cables, such as cabling through an entire household for example (conventional wisdom currently suggests a maximum of around 15 meters).

I did also read a few comparisons stating that more expensive cables do in fact offer improved signal transfer and enhanced audio but even if that were true, I am suggesting the differences would be so infinitesimal as to be indistinguishable to human senses. This terrific graphic from the MintLife blog just about says it all:


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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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