Need an HDMI Cable? Don't Get Ripped Off!

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July 25, 2009

Do NOT use HDMI cables as brain floss.

Do NOT use HDMI cables as mental floss.

With the recent switch to digital broadcast signals and the dropping price of HDTV sets, many of us are upgrading our RV media centers. The best cable connection for HDTV sets is called HDMI.

If you walk into any electronics store, you’ll find HDMI cables are expensive, with some selling for $50 or more. Quite frankly, these high-priced HDMI cables are a RIP-OFF.

Don’t get suckered into overpaying for an HDMI cable. Digital signals consist of ones and zeros — there’s no discernible difference in signal quality between a $50 cable and a $5 cable. It either works or it doesn’t.

HDMI cables deliver pure digital goodness, but that doesn’t mean they should be expensive. You can buy a nice HDMI cable for less than $5.

If you check out the reputable site, you can pick up a nice 6-foot cable for $3.56.

Still too pricey for you? Here’s one on Amazon for $0.70. That’s SEVENTY PENNIES (plus shipping).



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  5. I thought the HDMI port was not support on my netbook 🙁

  6. Great blog full of great information for the unsuspecting consumer.

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  10. G Shea

    In the digital world these upgrade cables make little difference. In the s-video, F-pin RF cable and component video cables I have seen a marked difference between the cheap non shielded cables and a basic Monster cable. The difference is quite noticeable as one choses the better grades (these could be measured as well), but the real kicker is the way the value of improvement drops off as one spends more. The real value is in a decent shielded cable in those applications were analog video signals are still used. I find the same is true in audio cable, with the most evident is the subwoofer cable. 60 hz hum that will appear often without a decent shielded cable. The cheap ones tend to use one of the signal carrying leads as a sheild which is a direct invite to noise. Depending on the quality of the equipment and how discerning the eyes and ears of the veiwer, some upgrade cables can be worth the cost. The real high end cables I have seen are not worth the price. G Shea

  11. Geeks, thanks for chiming in! 😀

    On our website, a reader suggested checking Big Lots (a closeout retailer) for less expensive HDMI cables. At $12, they still cost more than 10 TIMES the Amazon option. But if you are on the road in your RV and want instant gratification, it might suffice.

    This past summer, I just ordered some HDMI cables from Monoprice and had ’em delivered to our campground. They are high quality cables — if anything, the construction grade “rated for in-wall installation” cables are a little too thick. They are so thick and rugged they’re inflexible, which is overkill for an RV.

    This may be a case in which the cheapest consumer grade option is also the best option.

  12. Hey GM – thanks for the ‘call’ but – I know nothing about cables – so I asked Jim (my husband – the *real* geek 🙂 to respond.

  13. Jim

    I go with the cheaper cable group. Chokes are to reduce or eliminate RFI. You can even buy snap-on chokes for any cable. Sometimes just looping the cable at the ends will do the same thing.
    If you get a cheap cable, and you notice noise, get a better cable. So far, I haven’t had problems with cheap cables.

    The cable connector ends are the place where most problems occur. More than RFI. Corrosion is a factor.
    -this is ‘Mr. Geek’, Chris asked me to post –

  14. HDMI cable and RF chokes: seems like this idea is a non-starter.

    Digital information on HDMI consists of binary square waves–which are super rich in harmonics. I cannot imagine these being affected by weak spurious RF signals. Rather, I agree with Sean, that the chokes probably are used to clean up RFI from the HDMI cable signals.


  15. Dave, I agree… If Sony gets too insistent on me going “all Sony all the time,” I’ll make my purchases elsewhere. I like Sony products, but I also have products by Nikon, Canon, Samsung, Vizio, Dell, and other electronics companies. Sony makes some good stuff, but so do these other companies.

    With regard to the HDMI cables, if Sony told me that my choice of HDMI cable would affect my warranty, I’d probably say, “Are you kidding me?” right before picking up a Vizio, Samsung, Toshiba, or other HDTV with no such ridiculous stance.

    But the reality is that there’s no way a manufacturer is going to be able to determine what kind of cable you use to connect your TV to a media source. GMAs, I’m sorry to say that I think the Sony product guy was yanking your chain.

    I read a little bit more about the HDMI cable and RF chokes. First of all, there’s not much info on this issue on the Internet, which leads me to believe it isn’t much of an issue at all. Secondly, it appears to be a non-issue in shorter lengths of cord, the lengths typically purchased by most consumers. Finally, it’s my understanding that the RF chokes actually are there more for the manufacturer’s protection (to avoid FCC fines) rather than the consumer’s. In other words…it just ain’t that big a deal. 😀

    I will stand by my position that the cheap HDMI cables are just as good as the $50 rip-offs. I was an early adopter of HDTV, and have used a cheap HDMI cable with my Sony (ha ha) LCD rear projection HDTV since 2004, with no problems.

    I have several friends who have done the same with their HDTVs, for years… no problems. has done the same with their HDTVs, for years… no problems.

    Every time I see those $50 HDMI cables I cringe. If anyone wants to buy the expensive cable, fine… buy it and enjoy. But for 99.9% of people, the $.70 cable is the way to go.

  16. Sean, I was looking at a Sony car radio for my travel trailer. Just like you said, it was loaded with all kinds of proprietary gadgets, connections, and protocols.

    I purchased a Kenwood 🙂

  17. Dave, Monster Cables are definitely a fave topic of discussion amongst audiophiles. I think the general consensus is that they look cool, but are a rip-off. With regard to HDMI the issue is even more absurd because it’s a digital signal. With analog maybe one could argue an improvement in quality, but digital is all-on or all-off — it’s just a succession of ones and zeros.

    GMAs, I own and enjoy many Sony products (my PMW-EX1 camera comes to mind) but Sony is infamous for advocating its own proprietary version of common technology.

    Got a Sony camera? Well, you should only be recording to Sony media, right?

    I once had an electronics guy tell me I needed to buy a $40 Sony “i-link” (or whatever they call it) cable to connect my little Sony HC3 HDV camera via a firewire port. I bought a $10 generic cable instead and it worked just fine.

    In Sony’s world, we’d all be buying Sony cameras recording to Sony media, editing with Sony software on a Sony PC, connecting with Sony cables, exporting to Sony media, viewing on Sony TVs and Sony projectors, and… well, you get the idea. 🙂

  18. GMAs

    Ok… but, checked today and it seems the Sony product engineer said about the same… matter of fact they won’t honor the equipment warrantee if it doesn’t have the choke… ( as he said.. some people think we can’t tell.. when they send it in for warrantee repair…but surprise….they get it back the way they sent it in…with the shipping bill…. but hey what does a monitor cost… $1100 bux .. pocket change… and a cable.. 20 bux… sounds about right then…so if Cnet is going to fix it when its broken… because they advised you… that just about otto do it… grin…

    We have a sony brava.. and it will not let you hook the computer up to it with anything but the HD-15 cable… but, I know what you mean by using the little round connector… instead of the big’n plug.. and then have to run a audio cable from the computer to the TV also… things are getting complicated .. grin…

    We should get the computer lady on the Blog to help connect us up the right way..
    🙂 😉

    Hello Chris Guld… computer lady.. knock knock… you their?

  19. This reminds me of the Monster (among other brands) speaker cables that came out a few years ago. These wires were far larger than good engineering would demand, and costs were 10-15 times higher. Many qualified observers did objective testing of these so-called “better cables,” but instruments never were able to detect any real difference.

    However, those who spent $100-$200 on speaker cables were sure these more expensive cables sounded better…which I guess was far easier than admitting they had been “had.”


  20. Drew, I also can’t really tell a visual difference between component and HDMI. For me the real upside is the size. On our Airstream media cabinet we have a pretty small hole through which we pass cable. It’s really nice to use a slender HDMI cable instead of the larger component connections for video and audio. For me the sleek size of HDMI merits a $3 upgrade.

    GMAs, I know what you are saying about the chokes… But I’ve never seen ANY visual difference between different HDMI cables. Also, (a tech website that does nothing but test this stuff) has stated there is no difference between the expensive and the cheap HDMI cables. Cnet tests this stuff all day long, and they advocate buying the inexpensive cables. I will accept their word over any one person’s.

  21. Drew

    And don’t waste your time either. I’m in the business and you can’t tell the difference between component and hdmi in side-by-side comparisons.

  22. GMAs

    Funny you shoud come up with that right now.. as we were talking about it the other day…

    Cost is one thing… a cable is not a cable as a cable should be…. I too was taken back by the prices… and when I asked one of the video tech at work which one.. he said…..

    You want the one with the chokes on it… ya its more expensive but it will not interact with the computer (which is noisy electronically) and the TV video… if you don’t have the chokes at both ends you could really mess up either the computer or the HDTV… as they are very sensitive to RF signals going between the two… The cheaper cables don’t have the chokes… thus, you get what you pay for…


    also you want to make sure you look on the TV and computer to insure you have the right pin outs… HD 15 comes male, female… but you can get a male , male connector for a few cents more.. thus… don’t need a adapter.. etc… and my tech says not to go over 25 ft in cable length… or things again won’t be looking like you thought they should… grin (he suggested the 25 ft length as a standard)