The HDMI Cable Ripoff

Marginal Revolution points out an important economic fact: the big box stores might give decent prices on electronic such as blu-ray players but they overcharge considerably for the HDMI cables.  You can pay whatever price you want for an HDMI cable and it is doubtful you will see any difference in quality. The big box stores often charge over $100 for premium brand names, making a huge profit. Many stores sell the cables for a much more reasonable price, typically closer to $20. On line the same types of cables frequently sell for under $5 and they can be found for under $1.As I said, you can chose the price you pay.

The stores profit from the fact that people spend far more time researching which HD television or blu-ray player to buy than the price of cables. Once someone buys an expensive toy they are eager to use it and will want the cable immediately.

To avoid winding up in such a situation I have often purchased an extra HDMI cable when ordering other merchandise on line to ensure I always have a few extra sitting around in case I should decide to pick up a new component. If you ever wind up with a new HD device but no extra cables, I’d suggest using a component cable if you have an extra around. It is debatable whether you will see a difference in quality, but component cables are definitely sufficient until you can get an inexpensive HDMI cable.

I have never wasted money on HDMI cables but last year I did waste some money on another cable. I have a digital camera which takes high definition video (which is excellent on a large screen tv, even if not as good as from a HD camcorder). It takes a proprietary cable which I was stuck paying around $70 for. Making matters worse, we got a new dog around the same time as the new camera and the dog developed a taste for cables…

Update: This seems like a good time to remind people ordering things on line to make sure you are buying from honest companies. Do not buy from buy.com. The pennies you save will quickly be lost the first time they fail to give a refund for the defective merchandise they send out.

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10 Comments

  1. 1
    Fritz says:

    One problem is that people use old knowledge.  So they think that the standards that apply to analog cables and analog signal noise apply to digital.
    And it’s not just the big box stores.
    Here’s an amusing case in point:
    http://www.4electronicwarehouse.com/products/denon/ak-dl1.html?id=17513
    Read the reviews.
     
    There are lots of other ripoffs out there.  Monster cables.  Monster home theater surge suppressors.
     

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    On line you can pay high prices or pay virtually nothing for the cables–provided you shop around, which is easy to do on line. The problem is that in the big box stores you don’t have this option.

    What do you think is the deal with the reviews? Are they written by the seller, or by people who convinced themselves that if they spent that much money the cable must be great? I have a hard time believing they could sell many of those.

  3. 3
    Fritz says:

    Ron — the reviews are tongue-in-cheek by people who know how noise works in digital signals.  I have no idea why Denon does this.  It really reduces the brand in my eyes.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, reading through them (as opposed to skimming as I initially did) it is clear they were tongue in cheek. Wow, the cable even makes the internet faster.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    By the way, following yesterday’s digital conversion, Liberal Values transmits in digital only and will be much clearer and faster with one of these cables, if anyone wants to order one from us.  🙂

  6. 6
    b-psycho says:

    Honestly, I still don’t see the benefit to HD anyway.  Most of what’s on TV I get enough detail with the current set, and BluRay players for movies are still ridiculously overpriced.  Unless you’re a die-hard gamer, it just looks like extra cost.
    I have one HDMI cable in use, and it’s the one that was included at no charge w/ my Xbox.

  7. 7
    Fritz says:

    Psycho, I think this depends hugely on the size and the capabilities of your TV.  If your set is small, you won’t notice the resolution change all that much.  If your set is large but low resolution, HD input won’t give you anything, even if your set is capable of receiving it.  I have seen large sets with HD and it is spectacular.  But I am not shelling out the bucks right now to upgrade the TV set, my AV receiver, etc.

  8. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Wow, not only do the cables make the internet faster but, according to one review they solve global warming.

    Now that we have gone digital, everyone must own one. Send me $400 and I’ll get a cable right out to you. (It might not be the cable in the ad but I promise you will get just as good sound and the internet will run just as fast as with the one they are selling).

  9. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    High definintion presents a much better picture. On a large screen the difference is far more pronounced. The improvement is significant on both my 50 inch and 32 inch televisions. I’ve also compared the picture of network broadcasts on my 26 inch television. The HD picture is better but the improvement is modest compared to the larger sets. Of course it is up to the individual to decide if the improvement is worth spending money on.

    Blu-ray is better than DVD but the difference here is not as tremendous than in comparing standard television to HD. A bigger set is definately needed here to tell the difference.

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