Hi-Def TVs: Can I buy a cheap HDMI cable?

If you really want the best picture quality from your new High Definition TV, it's time to drop the component cables and opt for the HDMI cable. Why? HDTVs are made to convert a digital picture signal and HDMI cables deliver a digital signal to your HiDef unit.

Q. What are the advantages of HDMI over existing analog interfaces such as composite, S-Video and component video?
Quality: HDMI transfers uncompressed digital audio and video for the highest, crispest image quality.
All-Digital: HDMI ensures an all-digital rendering of video without the losses associated with analog interfaces and their unnecessary digital-to-analog conversions.
Low-cost: HDMI provides the quality and functionality of a digital interface while also supporting uncompressed video formats in a simple, cost-effective manner.
Audio: HDMI supports multiple audio formats, from standard stereo to multi-channel surround-sound.
Ease-of-use: HDMI combines video and multi-channel audio into a single cable, eliminating the cost, complexity, and confusion of multiple cables currently used in A/V systems.
Intelligence: HDMI supports two-way communication between the video source (such as a DVD player) and the DTV, enabling new functionality such as automatic configuration and one-touch play.

So the question becomes, "Which HDMI cable should I buy?"

Let's face it, there are a lot of choices. Monster brand HDMI cables run $100+ while HDMI cables from the Apple store run $20. HDMI cables at Best Buy, Fry's and Radio Shack vary from $10-$120. So, which Hi-Def cable should you buy?

Answer: It makes no difference – they're digital cables. If an HDMI cable meets the HDMI spec, then it works – simple as that. Digital cables either sense and transfer a signal or they don't. No signal = no transfer. Signal = transfer. There is no such thing as a "better transfer" – it's yes or no, black or white — there are no shades of gray.

Back in the day, there was a wide variety of difference with analog cables (think component AV cables), but with HDMI, there is no discernible difference.

Digital signals send information (or bits, if that's easier to understand) – not wavelengths – so you don't have to worry about interference from other cables or signal sources. The digital signal doesn't "fade" in & out because of interference. It is either sent and received or it is not.

So, does the $100+ Monster cable work as well as the $20 generic HDMI cable? Yes.

For those doubters out there – buy both. Buy the cheap cable and compare it to the $100+ cable. If you "see the difference" you're either looking only at your receipt or your fooling yourself.

My advice: Buy a $20 HDMI cable. Spend the rest of your money on your wife – you'll be glad you did. 😉

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