This is a topic that has caused much debate and I don’t just mean on the always heated tech forums on the internet. Everyone knows someone that swears by the cable they bought for twenty times the price of a standard cable. Hell, I’ve even been one of those retail sales people that have sold you those overpriced cables. But that was a long time ago….I’m reformed now.
I just have one thing to say to all of those people: You’re wrong.
With very specific exceptions, which I’ll get to later, you don’t have to pay a lot for an HDMI cable? So how much is an HDMI cord? Not much, because there’s no difference in the cheap cable to the expensive cable. No matter what difference you think you can see, you’re wrong.
There are many arguments in favor of high cost cables that I’ve heard thrown around so I’m going to focus on just a few of them. Hopefully this should construct enough of an argument for you to be sensible the next time you’re doing an HDMI cable comparison so you can have an idea of how much money you’re wasting on “better cables.”
You had a problem with your picture and buying a more expensive cable fixed it? Great! So what you’re saying is a brand new cable fixed the problem you were having with your old cable. Did you try a cheaper cable first, or did you just immediately jump to the conclusion that it has to be the more expensive cable? It’s perfectly possible to have a faulty cable, whether cheap or expensive. Try that next time, before jumping up a price bracket.
“My TV is a long way from my source, so my picture looks worse”
No it doesn’t. It can’t.
Decades of dealing with analog signals from TVs to radios has left us all with this understanding. As a signal gets weaker, the picture gets worse. As something is further away, the weaker the signal gets.
While part of this is true, the signal does get weaker, you won’t lose quality in the same way as that you would with an analogue signal. HDMI is a digital signal, in the simplest terms this means that the signal is either on or off. If you are getting a picture at all then it is the picture that’s being transmitted. You’re not losing quality.
If your cable is too long for the signal then you’ll know about it, you’ll get no picture at all.
“Chipped cables provide better pictures”
Wrong again. They repeat the signal that your device sends out, so they are recommended for use in long distances. Anything under 10ft long and you shouldn’t even consider it. They’re really not necessary until you’re looking at a length above 30ft.
But the key point here is that however long your cable is, however far these chips can transmit the signal, it’s the same signal at the start and the end. There is no difference in the picture quality itself, just the ability to get that picture to the TV.
“Expensive Cables last longer”
Yes and no. An HDMI cable doesn’t wear out through use, but if it’s in a rough environment then you might want to consider one with a tougher jacket to protect the cable.
I’ve lost more than one cable to my cats considering it a toy, or even from me just constantly moving and removing it.
But this does not mean you should shell out a lot of money for the “titanium reinforced carbon plated” cable. Just look for one with a thicker plastic jacket. Going for one that’s too heavy, especially where they’ve artificially bulked up the connecter, risks damaging the HDMI ports of your TV!
Seriously, if you want to throw money away on a heavy duty shielded cable, I can think of a lot of charities you can send it to instead.
“But it has a lifetime guarantee”
Yes, they can afford to offer that for two reasons. Firstly, as mentioned above, HDMI cables won’t wear out through use. Secondly, they’ve massively overcharged you in the first place.
How many times do you replace an HDMI cable anyway? 2-3 times? Then you can justify it being 2-3 times the prices for a lifetime guarantee.
Any more than that and you’re losing money.
Think there are different HDMI cable types?
“But I need an HDMI 2.0 cable for my 3D 4K TV”
The cable is not HDMI 2.0. The connector is.
Yes, you need the right port on the end of the cable, this is true for any connection. It’s the same cable going between the connectors no matter which connectors are on the end. Any high speed HDMI cable can transmit 3D signal, as long as it can connect to the TV to display it.
Don’t believe me? Well how about the source, themselves?
“HDMI 2.0 does not define new cables or new connectors. Current High Speed cables (Category 2 cables) are capable of carrying the increased bandwidth.” – HDMI.org
There are no HDMI cable differences
So, just to be crystal clear: don’t waste your money on expensive gimmicky cables. Know what you’re buying and what you need for your set up. Since HDMI cable differences are negligible, for any normal home set up, with a distance of less than 10ft between the source and the TV and with no extra rough wearing environmental hazards then there is a specific HDMI cable that you should be looking for. How much is an HDMI cord? Find the cheapest one.