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lee martin 01-10-2010 04:31 AM

HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap
 
Ok, a bit of a report this.... sorry! But I've been frustrated by the lack of science behind Stuff magazine's preaching on the topic of HDMI cables. They recently did offer up some welcome science, hence this report.

Summary

Most views on HDMI leads is to buy expensive leads for your home entertainment system I disagree with this. After testing various cables 2 metres in length on a standard living room set-up, I noted that the differential in image quality offered by the cables is either unnoticable or non-existant. I conclude from this symptom that the limited electromagnetic conditions and the minimal length required for HDMI cabling in our homes causes the majority of us no reason to purchase expensive HDMI cabling.

Testing

To prove to myself that I wasn't just adopting a cynical attitude towards professional gadgeteers telling us that cabling is far more important that we might think for digital signals, I took the opportunity of playing two Blu-ray versions of The Dark Night on two separate PS3's plugged into two HDMI inputs on the same HDTV (Samsung LE40A756). I was able to do this by chance really; I took my PS3 to my brother's house for christmas where we had duplicates of the key components.

There was one difference in the twin set-up: the HDMI cable. My brother got talked into paying 70 for the cable, the salesman iterating time and again that its silly to spend 800 on a TV but not get a high quality cable (but he could not explain the science as to why the expensive cable should perform better in a living room scenario). I actually brought two cables with me: a 4.99 cable purchased online and a 9.99 cable bought at gamestation. All 3 cables were 2 metres.

We played the movies simultaneously with exactly the same picture settings for both HDMI channels on the TV and with both PS3s set-up identically.

After testing the 9.99 cable against the 70 cable, I repeated for the 4.99 cable against the 70 cable.

Test results were observational in form. My two brothers and our girlfriends were witness to this geek-ridden event. We compared the cables by switching HDMI channels on the TV with an obsessive desire to spot any differences. Comparisons and up-close inspections were made of freeze-framed images, slow motion playback, playback in film and TV native frame-rates, picture extremities (image reproduction in low/high contrast and in low/high brightness etc.) and we also fiddled with the TV and PS3 picture processing software.

Results

Nothing. Everytime we flicked from cheap to expensive cabling the picture was no different (both were fantastic, I couldn't see how the picture could be better). Not one of us in the room could see a single, not a single difference. For what its worth, the sound was no different either (but of course this would need to be tested on a proper surround sound set-up).

Conclusion

Signal degradation (digital data-packet loss) in a HDMI cable of two metres or less does not occur to the extent necessary to warrant high-end materials and their associated cost. Perhaps for a 10 metre a cable the extra shielding and build quality is necessary. But for your standard home set-up? No, definitely not. It's also worth mentioning that the TV used for this test would be consired awesome just 12 months ago, and Stuff has been proclaiming the virtues of expensive HDMI cables for longer than this - hence to say that a higher-end TV would spot any differences would be erroneous. Furthermore, with TV's coming down in price, expensive HDMI cables are becoming a larger percentage of cash spent on a decent set-up, so my view is this: please please don't tell people to spend more money than they need to for results they will not get. I felt my brother got conned by a salesman who probably didn't even mean to con him!

Happy Camper 01-13-2010 03:20 PM

Re: HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap
 
We buy our HDMI cables directly from Oppo Digital. Terrific premium cables and really inexpensive. Oppo does everything right, and all of their players, accessories and cables are top notch. We don't need to worry about cheap or premium cables, we get premium stuff for cheap prices and every cable has performed flawlessly.

Have your cake and eat it too. Check out Oppo Digital's website for pricing. You will be amazed at their quality and cost. They can improve your life and save you money.

We think Oppo's customer service is also a 10 on a 10 point scale. These guys are good.

Loves2Watch 07-02-2010 07:49 PM

Re: HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap
 
I purchase all of my HDMI cables from www.monoprice.com. They are reliable, high quality and you can purchase a 10' for less than $6.

HDMI cables ARE all the same in fact most are made in the same factory in China, where all HDMI cables are made/assembled.

BruZZi 07-28-2010 07:18 AM

Re: HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap
 
I also get my HDMI cables from Monoprice.

.

ImRizzo 07-28-2010 04:12 PM

Re: HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BruZZi (Post 25712)
I also get my HDMI cables from Monoprice.

.

Ditto, best cabling for the price.

bpl123 07-29-2010 05:50 PM

Re: HDMI cables, expensive vs cheap
 
As Joe Kane (Digital Video Essentials) says; "You can spend a buck a foot or $100 a foot. If you're getting picture and sound
it's working". Bruce


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