Sunday, August 01, 2010

"You Need a Cable For That!"

OK, you researched all the brands, looked at all the reviews and found the very best price for that new flat screen 56 inch HDTV. You are now standing with the salesperson ready to fork over those green backs, or more likely a piece of plastic, and there is one more thing.

“You’re gonna need a cable for that ya know,” mumbles the salesperson. That’s right, in order to connect that new HD TV set to your cable box, Blue Ray DVD player or other digital device, you need special cables. Called HDMI cables, these short wires have special connectors on each end. You will need one cable for each component.

The salesperson will suggest that since you just forked over a month’s pay for the new TV set, you will want to make sure that you use “the best cable possible” so the picture is sharp and the audio crisp and static free. “Best” of course in the salesperson’s mind is also the most expensive. So you look at the display of cables and see that a three foot long rubber wire with two small connectors has a price of $75.00. There is another one with gold plated connectors for only $100.00. In theory gold is a superior electrical conductor. And you thought that the TV price gave you sticker shock.

The truth of the matter is that for most applications, there is no difference between the results you will get using a $15 HDMI cable or a $200 HDMI Cable. For most of us, one end of the cable will be plugged into the TV set and the other end into the DVD player or cable box and left that way for years never to be removed. So why pay a fortune for a cable that is heavy enough to tow your car?

There is one application that may require a heavier cable with more robust connectors and that would be an HDMI cable which you will use to connect a game system, lap top computer or other device that will be plugged in and out often. You will want a cable that has a heavy duty connector. There are several small contacts inside the plug that can come loose with repeated use, so a strong connector will hold up better than a less expensive cable.

For most of us mere mortals, the fact that the HDMI connector contacts are plated with gold has no discernable bearing on the quality of the pictures or sound. It adds to the price. The only added value I see comes in the form of your bragging rights. You can tell your “has-everything” neighbor that you have gold platted HDMI cables. Your spouse may on the other hand have a much different reaction to paying 100 bucks for a piece of wire.



Anonymous Ricardo Ang II said...

It's a safe bet that anyone can get away with cheap HDMI cables, up to a distance of 2 meters (6 feet).

At longer distances, there's a discernible difference with the AV quality between the cheaper and more expensive HDMI cables.

12:21 PM  

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