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The Tech-pert: The Myth of the Expensive HDMI Cable

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 9:08AM Saturday April 17, 2010
under Money Saving Tips

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a killer deal on a 47-inch HDTV. Near the end I made an offhand comment about HDMI cables--something that bears both repeating and explaining.
HDMI cables, of course, are the ones that connect devices like Blu-ray players, game consoles, and HD camcorders to your HDTV. Walk into your local big-box store and it's not uncommon to see them selling for $29.99. Or $59.99. Or even more!

If you happen to be buying gear from a high-end home-theater store, the salesperson will absolutely positively tell you that these priciest of all cables are necessary, that "high-resolution digital signals" and whatnot require platinum plating, extra shielding, and so on.

Bull.

Numerous tests and studies have proven time and again that cheaper (and even downright cheap) HDMI cables work just as well as the ones costing a small fortune. I'll add my own experiences to that: I use nothing but cheapies in my house, and I've never had a problem. No signal degradation, no reduction in picture quality, nothing.

So, if you don't have to pay, say, the $29.99 Best Buy charges for a Dynex 6-foot HDMI cable, what should you expect to pay? Well, how does $3.99 sound? That's what Meritline charges for a generic 6-footer--shipping included!

Need more than one? Meritline charges $6.29 for a pack of two cables and $9.99 for three. Might as well stock up, right?

I know this sounds too good to be true, but do the research. And trust me. I've purchased these exact cables from Meritline (and other online sources like Monoprice), and they've worked perfectly every time.

Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, "How to Do Everything: Palm Pre." Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog for CNET, the Hassle-Free PC blog for PC World, and technology stories for Popular Science, Wired, and other magazines.