Monday, February 12, 2007

$200 HDMI CABLES?

BREIF OVERVIEW

DVI: Digital Visual Interface was a standard connector developed for High Definition video transfer. Today this has been superceeded by HDMI. DVI is still very much present as a means to interface between PC's, monitors and select HDTV's. It is partially compatible with HDMI.


HDMI: High-Definition Multimedia Interface is now the new standard for the transfer of High Definition audio and video. It is a single USB like connector that is now implemented in HDTV's, some upscaling dvd players, home theatre receivers and Blu-ray and HD-DVD drives. It also includes High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) which is the new digital form of copyright protection. HDMI version 1.3 is on its way in 2007 and claims to allow double the bandwidth from pervious versions, support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio as well as upto 48-bit (1 billion) colors. This could prove a significant improvement over previous HDTV's. Currently only one HDTV supports this standard, the SONY KDL-70XBR3 70" LCD.



$200 HDMI CABLES?

Okay so I really had to say something about this. I was in Bestbuy the other day and I overheard one of the sales people talking about how the $150 HDMI cable offered better "insulation" and "picture quality." Without going into too much technical jargon and causing even more confusion, this is the basics when it comes to cables for your home theatre equipment.


ANALOG CABLES: When connecting equipment up with an analog connection, such as connecting up your dvd player or satellite receiver via a S-Video (the mouse like connector), or component cable (red, green, blue cable) the quality of the cable does matter. You need a well built, well insulated cable as signal "information" can be lost through poor insulation, distance or cheaply made connectors. This doesn't mean go out and buy a $100 component cable. There are several online retailers such as our Amazon store that sell high end component cables at around $35 for a 25ft. Markup at local retailers is HIGH. This is where they make a lot of money. Don't buy into the marketing. "Monster cables" have done a great job of conning consumers into thinking they were getting what they were paying for.




I was at CES 2007 and spent a big of time chatting with a high end cable manufacturer. I played dumb and let him do his speech. When he has finished, I let on a little, and he realised that I knew the technical in's and out's of how cables are made. His face changed, but he maintained his stance on the $200 HDMI cable. I walked away half-smiling.


DIGITAL CABLES: HDMI is already standard in all home theatre equipment. This digital connector works differently from the analog cable, because essentially, it sends the signal "digitally." This means it send "1's" and "0's" down the cable. These bits of information are assembled back together after they pass down the cable. In this instance, quality of the cable is much less of an importance than analog. Yes, you need a good connector, good shielding etc, but that's so the damn thing doesn't break and so that the signal can get from one side to the other without interruption. But once the signal makes it to the other side, picture quality is going to be as good as the source it came from. No better or worse. The only time when extra sheilding comes into play is over long distance. We have what you call "tenuation" which is loss of signal over distance. To be safe and to not get too technical, if you're going over 25ft, I would increase the AWG (American Wire Guage), in other words the guage or thickness of the cable. I would maybe increase a little more if you're going over 50ft. But again, because it's a digital signal, the difference may not be noticeable.

If you're not convinced, With the great return policies some stores have, you can take advantage and buy yourself a $200 Monster HDMI cable then go to monoprice.com and buy the same spec cable for a 1/3 or the price and do a comparison yourself! Whichever way you go, you can always return the other!

4 Comments:

Lex said...

One great way I found out to get free HDMI is, you buy a Direct TV HD DVR player (from BEST BUY )and return it and just keep the HDMI cable. Best Buy never checks. I got two that way. I know its a pain to spend 300 on the DVR, but you get your money back. And a free HDMI 6".

Anonymous said...

There is a word that describes Lex's recommendation - shoplifting...

TriniMan said...

Agreed. Definitely wouldn't condone that methodology for obtaining an free cable!

Anonymous said...

You think Monster HDMI cables are expensive... take a look at XtendedPlay in the UK. They stock a range of HDMI cables from Oehlbach that are really pricey. Mind you they look VERY nice!!!