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Warning on purchasing HDMI cables for HDTV's

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Warning on purchasing HDMI cables for HDTV's

Unread postby Crash Davis » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:28 am

If you have purchased a new HDTV set recently, you are already familiar with HDMI cables. If you are thinking about purchasing an HDTV anytime soon, you are about to be initiated. The problem is that HDMI cables have become a popular way to scam customers. If you know about this scam, you will be able to save yourself a lot of money.

So let's start at the beginning. When you own an HDTV, you need to have a way to get a high definition signal onto the screen. The signal can come from a cable box, a DVD or Blueray player, a video game console or a satellite antenna. The easy, high tech way to carry that signal from the video source to the screen is a piece of wire called an HDMI cable.

An HDMI cable truly is an innovation. It carries all the video information to the screen in digital form, plus it carries all the sound information. Just a few years ago it took five or more cables to carry all this information and it wasn't digital, meaning that it could degrade along the way. With HDMI it is all in one slim cable. It couldn't be easier to connect things like cable boxes to a new HDTV.

So where's the scam? You can find the scam by going to any big box electronics retailer and looking in the cable aisle. There you will find HDMI cables priced as low as $25 or $30 (if not, definitely head toward your local discount retailer for better prices). But you will also find HDMI cables priced above $100. And if you talk to a sales person, he will definitely be steering you toward the most expensive model. That is the scam. You can understand the scam if you understand how an HDMI cable works and what it does.

Let's begin by going back in history to the birth of really expensive cables. It started with speaker wire. When you connect a normal speaker to a normal stereo system, you are sending both a signal (in the form of an oscillating wave) and a lot of power (potentially hundreds of watts) through the speaker cable. Someone realized that to send a lot of power, a thick cable would cause less distortion. Thus, mega cables were born. And they were expensive.

But with an HDMI cable, you aren't sending any oscillating analog waves, nor any power. What you are sending is a low-power digital signal. The digital signal is either on or off, and it is impossible to distort it without ruining it. The great thing about a digital signal is that, even if there is a little noise in the cable (and there always is, no matter how good the cable), the TV will clean it up when it interprets the digital signal. The whole beauty of moving to a digital world is that it eliminates distortion completely.

What this means to you is that there really is no such thing as a "better" HDMI cable. Either an HDMI cable works or it does not. If it doesn't work, you will immediately know it. Your screen will freeze, or it will skip frames, or it will show big square blocks instead of a picture. It will be completely obvious that there is a problem. In that case you need to throw the cable away.

But if an HDMI cable is working correctly, your TV's picture will look exactly the same no matter how much the cable costs. Paying more for a cable will have no effect on picture quality.

Now that you know this, you can see what you need to do as a consumer. When buying an HDMI cable, you can buy on price and get the cheapest one.

That being said, there is one two things you do need to be aware of when purchasing an HDMI cable. First, you have to get the right length. If the cable isn't long enough it won't reach to the HDTV. Second, HDMI cables have version numbers. For example, version 1.3 of HDMI can carry twice as much data as prior versions. If you buy a high-end HDTV that needs a version 1.3 cable, you need to make sure that the cable you buy supports version 1.3. Otherwise you are not getting everything that the equipment has to offer. In that case buy the cheapest version 1.3 cable available, and it will work fine.

Thought I would pass this info along for anyone on the board that wasn't already aware of this.
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Unread postby General » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:47 am

Who is going to replace all of those vacuum tubes in my TV? :lol:
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Unread postby municipalmutt » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:49 pm

General wrote:Who is going to replace all of those vacuum tubes in my TV? :lol:


Speaking of tube tvs, why is there no more vertical hold on TVs?

I remember having to put a clothes pin on the channel dial to keep the picture from rolling while watching Goulardi.

Excellent point about the HDMI cables. I still can't use one on my Directv HD receiver hooked up to my Samsung HDTV. There is a software conflict and I am still waiting for an update from Directv.

I have a feeling I'd be better off waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:51 pm

municipalmutt wrote:There is a software conflict and I am still waiting for an update from Directv.

I have a feeling I'd be better off waiting for the Great Pumpkin.


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Unread postby municipalmutt » Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:27 pm

Very Sincere. It has been waiting since Sept 2006.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:32 pm

municipalmutt wrote:Very Sincere. It has been waiting since Sept 2006.


Well, don't make any slips, like saying "If" instead of "When."

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Unread postby mattvan1 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:57 pm

municipalmutt wrote: Excellent point about the HDMI cables. I still can't use one on my Directv HD receiver hooked up to my Samsung HDTV. There is a software conflict and I am still waiting for an update from Directv. I have a feeling I'd be better off waiting for the Great Pumpkin.


Are you sure that it's the DirectTV box? Seems like they would simply swap it out, no? Samsung provides firmware updates for some of their more recent models of HDTVs. I have more info if you need.
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Unread postby municipalmutt » Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:07 pm

mattvan1 wrote:
municipalmutt wrote: Excellent point about the HDMI cables. I still can't use one on my Directv HD receiver hooked up to my Samsung HDTV. There is a software conflict and I am still waiting for an update from Directv. I have a feeling I'd be better off waiting for the Great Pumpkin.


Are you sure that it's the DirectTV box? Seems like they would simply swap it out, no? Samsung provides firmware updates for some of their more recent models of HDTVs. I have more info if you need.


Yes. Positive. It is a known issue for them. The receiver model is H20 and there are other TVs that the HDMI does not work on this receiver. I have been using the component cables. The HDMI input works with my DVD player. Directv said they were aware of the problem back when I had the new dish installed and there would be a software upgrade to correct the problem. It never happened.
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Unread postby mrburns » Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:22 pm

I needed to buy an HDMI switchbox to hook my upconverting DVD player and HD Directv into my HDTV, which is almost two years old and has only only HDMI input slot.

I was pretty shocked to find that I could buy a 3 foot HDMI cable on a fairly generic internet site, firefold.com, for $6, and it works great. Amazing to think I paid about $100 for a 6 foot HDMI cable less than two years ago...
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Unread postby jfiling » Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:34 pm

Great post, because I've heard all too often how people get ripped of buying expensive HDMI cables from Best Buy et al.

I'm still running component cable from my Time Warner box to my HDTV, and haven't had any problems. Except for the 5 unsightly wires it takes.
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Unread postby mattvan1 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:14 pm

municipalmutt wrote:
mattvan1 wrote:
municipalmutt wrote: Excellent point about the HDMI cables. I still can't use one on my Directv HD receiver hooked up to my Samsung HDTV. There is a software conflict and I am still waiting for an update from Directv. I have a feeling I'd be better off waiting for the Great Pumpkin.


Are you sure that it's the DirectTV box? Seems like they would simply swap it out, no? Samsung provides firmware updates for some of their more recent models of HDTVs. I have more info if you need.


Yes. Positive. It is a known issue for them. The receiver model is H20 and there are other TVs that the HDMI does not work on this receiver. I have been using the component cables. The HDMI input works with my DVD player. Directv said they were aware of the problem back when I had the new dish installed and there would be a software upgrade to correct the problem. It never happened.


OK. Good Luck. I had thought that updates for the HD boxes were pushed via the sat - and that everyone should be updated by now.

Here's a possible resource you may find useful. Registration may be required. http://www.dbstalk.com/showthread.php?t=76617
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Unread postby Hi Oktane » Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:07 am

Allburn wrote:I was pretty shocked to find that I could buy a 3 foot HDMI cable on a fairly generic internet site, firefold.com, for $6, and it works great. Amazing to think I paid about $100 for a 6 foot HDMI cable less than two years ago...


Here's another good site:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/department.asp?c_id=102
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