As with any electronic device I buy, I have been reviewing the latest HDTVs that are available. While doing my research I also realized that I would probably need an HDMI cable or two, considering not all HD devices include a cable. For anyone that has looked at purchasing, or purchased, an HDMI Cable, you would know that there are many different cables with an equal number of different prices.
The most interesting thing that I found out was that the price and build of the expensive cables pretty much mean absolutely nothing. All marketing hype designed to get you to spend a lot of money on a cable that won’t do much more than perform as well as a much cheaper cable.
Expensive HDMI Cables Marketing Hype
I was in my local electronics store recently to purchase a blu-ray player and decided to walk past the HDMI cable display to see what the prices were like. The most common HDMI cable manufacturer was Monster Cable, and many of their cables were over $50 in price. I don’t think there was a cable below $30, which in my book, is much too high.
Of course, these prices don’t compare the the 3.3′ HDMI cable for over $1,000 that is getting quite a laugh about online. The comments on the page featuring the extremely expensive cable are hilarious and I suggest you spend some time to read through some of them.
Back to the real world. The thing about such cables is that they are really just overpriced cables that don’t perform any better than cables of the same type for under $10. It is all marketing hype to make the cables appear to perform some magic that improves the picture quality of HD content.
There have been several tests that prove cheap and expensive HDMI cables are the same. These tests have proven that there is no difference between cheap and expensive HDMI cables.
For those that don’t wish to know the ins and outs of HDMI, I’ll provide a quick overview of why those expensive cables don’t do more to improve the picture quality of HD content over cheaper cables.
All or Nothing With Digital
The basic principle of an HDMI cable is to provide a connection between two HD devices so that digital bits can be sent from device to device. The cable doesn’t do any processing, it merely transfers the bits.
Unlike analogue, where you can get static images, or bad sound, with digital it is an all or nothing deal. If the bits don’t make it from one device to another, the image or sound won’t appear. For example, if the bits from an HD movie in a blu-ray player can’t be sent to the HDTV through the HDMI cable, the screen on the HDTV will be blank.
Since the HDMI cable doesn’t do any processing, there is no way an expensive HDMI cable can improve the picture quality of the HD Content over a cheaper cable. All the expensive cable does is transfer the bits and nothing more – just like a cheap HDMI cable.
What About the Higher Speed HDMI Cables?
The HDMI specifications has been through several revisions since it was released. The data throughput of HDMI has increased from 4.95 Gbps (1.0-1.2a) to 10.2 Gbps (1.3-1.4). This means that HDMI-compatible devices will transfer data up to 10.2 Gbps, which is enough for HD 3D and 4096×2160 resolution.
Some expensive HDMI cables have a stated throughput of 17.2 Gbps, which is meaningless since no HDMI device really transfers at such high speeds. Paying more for such a cable is a complete waste of money. Such cables usually sell for over $100, which is really expensive just for an HDMI cable.
When looking for an HDMI cable you just need to be certain that the packaging indicates that it is a high-speed, category 2 cable.
After looking for a cable I decided on the Monoprice 6′ HDMI cable, which I bought after shipping for $8.01 USD. A lot more affordable for such a simple component.