Expensive TV cables are a rip-off: Choice – Articles – Home Entertainment

Expensive TV cables are a rip-off: Choice – Articles – Home Entertainment.

I really love being ahead of the game, especially when it is both a newspaper and a non-profit organisation with more money to spend than I have. The reason I say this? See Changing Australia – or – how much should an HDMI cable cost? here at Thomo’s Hole back on 11 November 2008 where I note:

I was looking around the store [Dick Smith’s on George Street, Sydney] and my eyes strayed across some HDMI cables … I wandered closer and then gasped. $169.95 for the cable – and that was the cheap one. HDMI cables were listed in price ranging from $169.95 to $329.95. Now, I am not really known for being stingy but even I baulked at that cost. No sir, no HDMI cable for me.

And then later I’d found HDMI cables at places like Bunnings and K-Mart for prices ranging from $19.95 to $26.95. Even the more expensive Belkin cables at Officeworks was a mere $69.95 by comparison. I also noted that as the cables were carrying digital signals rather than analogue signals, the signal was either there, or it was not. With analogue you will get some signal loss maybe resulting in the snowy effect and so on.

Now, I will freely admit that as I was looking at this stuff, I was not  really paying attention to how long the cables were – although I suspect size is not that important in this case.

Anyway, to summarise the findings of Choice:

“Although the results were slightly in favour of the more expensive brand for longer lengths, the differences were not enough to conclude any brand delivers a significantly better result,” the report said.

“Results for the digital audio cable were even more conclusive, with no advantage to be gained through the use of more expensive cables for better performance.”

To be fair to the Sydney Morning Herald, they almost caught up with me as on 13 November 2008 (two days after my blog post) they had an article titled, “Would sir like a $200 cable with his new plasma?” This article noted:

Australian shoppers are being duped into spending hundreds of dollars on so-called “high performance” HDMI cables when they are buying new home entertainment equipment.

However some technical experts argue that there is very little to distinguish a cable priced at hundreds of dollars from one that costs $20, and urge buyers to be on their guard against slick sales pitches that claim otherwise.

Robin Braun, a professor of telecommunications at UTS says that, because the HDMI cable carries a digital signal, most of the built-up “noise” that affects more traditional analogue cable images is absent, meaning that most short-range HDMI cables will give a perfect image every time, regardless of their price.

Definitely a case of caveat emptor.

I shall now consider buying the $20 cable 😉

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