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How the HDMI cable scam works

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Old 12-31-2007, 07:01 AM   #1  
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Default How the HDMI cable scam works

If you have purchased a new HDTV set recently, you are already familiar with HDMI cables. If you are thinking about purchasing an HDTV anytime soon, you are about to be initiated. The problem is that HDMI cables have become a popular way to scam customers. If you know about this scam, you will be able to save yourself a lot of money.

So let's start at the beginning. When you own an HDTV, you need to have a way to get a high definition signal onto the screen. The signal can come from a cable box, a DVD or Blueray player, a video game console or a satellite antenna. The easy, high tech way to carry that signal from the video source to the screen is a piece of wire called an HDMI cable.

An HDMI cable truly is an innovation. It carries all the video information to the screen in digital form, plus it carries all the sound information. Just a few years ago it took five or more cables to carry all this information and it wasn't digital, meaning that it could degrade along the way. With HDMI it is all in one slim cable. It couldn't be easier to connect things like cable boxes to a new HDTV.

So where's the scam? You can find the scam by going to any big box electronics retailer and looking in the cable aisle. There you will find HDMI cables priced as low as $25 or $30 (if not, definitely head toward your local discount retailer for better prices). But you will also find HDMI cables priced above $100. And if you talk to a sales person, he will definitely be steering you toward the most expensive model. That is the scam. You can understand the scam if you understand how an HDMI cable works and what it does.

Let's begin by going back in history to the birth of really expensive cables. It started with speaker wire. When you connect a normal speaker to a normal stereo system, you are sending both a signal (in the form of an oscillating wave) and a lot of power (potentially hundreds of watts) through the speaker cable. Someone realized that to send a lot of power, a thick cable would cause less distortion. Thus, mega cables were born. And they were expensive.

But with an HDMI cable, you aren't sending any oscillating analog waves, nor any power. What you are sending is a low-power digital signal. The digital signal is either on or off, and it is impossible to distort it without ruining it. The great thing about a digital signal is that, even if there is a little noise in the cable (and there always is, no matter how good the cable), the TV will clean it up when it interprets the digital signal. The whole beauty of moving to a digital world is that it eliminates distortion completely.

What this means to you is that there really is no such thing as a "better" HDMI cable. Either an HDMI cable works or it does not. If it doesn't work, you will immediately know it. Your screen will freeze, or it will skip frames, or it will show big square blocks instead of a picture. It will be completely obvious that there is a problem. In that case you need to throw the cable away.

But if an HDMI cable is working correctly, your TV's picture will look exactly the same no matter how much the cable costs. Paying more for a cable will have no effect on picture quality.

Now that you know this, you can see what you need to do as a consumer. When buying an HDMI cable, you can buy on price and get the cheapest one.

That being said, there is one two things you do need to be aware of when purchasing an HDMI cable. First, you have to get the right length. If the cable isn't long enough, it won't reach to the HDTV. Second, HDMI cables have version numbers. For example, version 1.3 of HDMI can carry twice as much data as prior versions. If you buy a high-end HDTV that needs a version 1.3 cable, you need to make sure that the cable you buy supports version 1.3. Otherwise you are not getting everything that the equipment has to offer. In that case buy the cheapest version 1.3 cable available, and it will work fine.

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Old 12-31-2007, 07:11 AM   #2  
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Great info, thanks for sharing it.
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:24 AM   #3  
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Originally Posted by eHDMI View Post
That being said, there is one two things you do need to be aware of when purchasing an HDMI cable. First, you have to get the right length. If the cable isn't long enough, it won't reach to the HDTV. Second, HDMI cables have version numbers. For example, version 1.3 of HDMI can carry twice as much data as prior versions. If you buy a high-end HDTV that needs a version 1.3 cable, you need to make sure that the cable you buy supports version 1.3. Otherwise you are not getting everything that the equipment has to offer. In that case buy the cheapest version 1.3 cable available, and it will work fine.
Not quite correct. The 1.3 standard is for hardware. Any HDMI cable can carry or has the bandwidth to carry a HDMI 1.3 signal. It was not until just recently that they started rating cables for the 1.3 specification and the cables that do not have this rating have not been submitted to the standards people for approval but it does not mean that they will not work.

I believe the 1.3 cable rating is just another marketing gimmick to be used by manufacturers (Monster) and retailers to sell you pseudo wizardry which really does nothing for a much higher price. As was said earlier, with HDMI cables they either work or they don't. Don't be pressured into buying expensive cables by this pseudo science rather go to a place like www.monoprice.com for your cable needs and spend only $5 to $10 for that cable that you need.

Last edited by Loves2Watch; 12-31-2007 at 08:35 AM..
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:51 AM   #4  
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Default Hdmi Cables Free

When my HR20-700 was installed 12/06, the DTV tech.
gave me the HDMI cable and an extra one. He said DTV
buys them in bulk for $2-3 ea. They work fine.
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:52 AM   #5  
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Default Concerning HDMI version 1.3a

The HDMI version 1.3a is different from earlier versions:

HD players with an HDMI 1.3,

- will enable the Bitstream setting for lossless audio to be decoded by a new receiver capable to decode lossless.
- will transmit much greater color video data stream to a capable TV equipped with an HDMI version 1.3
- will transmit 1080p with 24 fps from capable players to receivers capable of displaying in 24 Hz.

It takes a version HDMI 1.3 cable to take advantage of HDMI 1.3 outputs and inputs. Not a scam.

Last edited by mfabien; 12-31-2007 at 08:55 AM..
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:48 AM   #6  
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Yep, that was my thought also when I saw these overpriced cables appear on the market the 1st time.

I'm using HDMI cables from about 5 Euros from the Aldi & they work like a charm

The same goes for digital audio cables, coaxial, or optical. Right now I'm using a plane old cinch audio cable (not even coaxial) from 10 mtrs. to connect my Onkyo to my HTPC & it works perfectly
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:53 AM   #7  
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Thanks for posting this eHDMI. Very good and informative read. I wish they would just post this up in BB/CC/etc in the cable section with a big red "warning" at the top of it haha.
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Old 12-31-2007, 11:42 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfabien View Post
It takes a version HDMI 1.3 cable to take advantage of HDMI 1.3 outputs and inputs. Not a scam.
Baloney, it does not and that has been scientifically proven.
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:46 PM   #9  
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This is nothing new. You've always been able to overspend on cables for any A/V application, dating back to at least the 70's, with exotic speaker wire.

At some point, the cable quality is so low it can cause problems or become intermittent, but if you stay away from the rock bottom, just about any cable will do. The only time it gets iffy is for long cable runs where capacitance and crosstalk can affect even digital signals.

HDMI is fairly robust and uses error correction in the event data does get corrupted, however it's better if the data doesn't need to get corrected because the correction may look and sound good, but it's not necessarily the real data.
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Old 12-31-2007, 01:51 PM   #10  
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Originally Posted by Loves2Watch View Post
Baloney, it does not and that has been scientifically proven.
Many HDMI cables that are not certified 1.3 will operate for 1.3 equipment, but there is a difference from a specification and testing standpoint. The 1.0 spec requires cables to be certified for use up to 165 MHz, whereas the 1.3 cables must be certified for use up to 340 MHz. Many of the 1.0 cables will not pass the 1080p video and many will. Check this article out: HDMI Part 8 - Cables for 1.3
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Old 12-31-2007, 02:33 PM   #11  
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This I already know, just making a point as the poster stated that you have to have 1.3 cables for 1.3 to be transmitted. That is not necessarily the case.
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Old 12-31-2007, 03:07 PM   #12  
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My 3' HDMI 1.3 cable cost me $6.72 from MyCableMart!

What's the big deal?

What are you calling scam?
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Old 12-31-2007, 03:44 PM   #13  
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The $5 cable I got from amazon is able to pass 1080p and dtsma (or any other format) without a problem. I don't recall it saying anything about a 1.3 rating.
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:09 PM   #14  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfabien View Post
My 3' HDMI 1.3 cable cost me $6.72 from MyCableMart!

What's the big deal?

What are you calling scam?
It seems you've already figured out what the scam is. A $6.72 HDMI cable will work the same as a $125 HDMI cable.

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Old 12-31-2007, 04:26 PM   #15  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfabien View Post
My 3' HDMI 1.3 cable cost me $6.72 from MyCableMart!

What's the big deal?

What are you calling scam?
The scam is when one place has 20 ft HDMI for $26 and another place has 20 ft HDMI for $150.......

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Monst...oductDetail.do

or

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2
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