Cheap HDMI Cables
In the market for some cheap HDMI cables? Great! We provide a detailed analysis of why the cheapest HDMI cables you can find are just as good as the most expensive ones.
HDMI, or High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is a technology used to transmit digital video and audio signals from a source, such as a gaming console or Blu-Ray player, to a destination output device, such as a high definition TV. The technology is ubiquitous in today’s environment of high definition signals, Xbox 360’s and Playstation 3’s, but one thing that can be confusing to the average buyer is the huge discrepancy in price between various brands of HDMI cables – at the cheapest end you can get HDMI cables for around $10, and at the high end, the most expensive cable we’ve seen is – and we are not kidding – priced at a princely $934.99.
This high-end cable is made by AudioQuest and features “100% Perfect-Surface silver connectors” and “HD polyethylene composition”. And it’s only two feet long. Two feet. For that price, I’d want it to make my dinner and clean my house. But is there any tangible, noticeable difference between these ridiculously expensive HDMI cables and the cheaper ones? The answer might surprise you.
Cheap vs Expensive HDMI Cables
Back in the heady days of the 80’s and 90’s (hell, even today some people still use analogue cables to connect their computer monitor), analog cables and connectors were used to connect output devices such as televisions and monitors to source devices. To understand why the quality of cable mattered in these days, you need to understand the difference between an analog signal and a digital signal.
An analog signal transmits data by using a voltage in the shape of continuous waveform to represent the information it is transmitting. For example, if it is transmitting a 1000 Hz sine-wave tone, the signal would be a voltage varying from positive to negative again 1000 times per second. The key thing to remember is that an analog signal (the electricity itself being transmitted) must bear a resemblance to the actual data it is transmitting. In contrast to this, a digital signal does NOT need to bear any resemblance at all to the information it is transmitting. A digital signal is simply a series of electrical pulses designed to convey a sequence of bits (1’s and 0’s).
In a digital transmission, either the signal gets there or it doesn’t. Either the picture is PERFECT or it will have obvious defects just like when your digital broadcast TV signal is weak and you see very obvious distortion in the picture and sound. There is no mythical “in-between” point, as there might be with an analog signal, where the picture is slightly degraded and fuzzy. HDMI cables use a technology called Transition-minimized differential signaling (TMDS) which means the signal stops completely if the signal is not transmitted perfectly.
So there’s absolutely no difference between buying the cheapest HDMI cable you can find, or the most super-expensive, gold-plated, elitist cable available.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the use of higher quality materials found in the more expensive cables could have an impact on signal degradation when approaching the maximum length of an HDMI cable, but all will be subject to specified maximum lengths. So as long as your cable is about 20 feet in length or below, you won’t have to worry about signal degradation, regardless of how cheap the cable is.
AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) – $5.79
BlueRigger High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 6.6 Feet (2m) – $5.99
Cheetah Mounts High Speed 3D compatible HDMI Cable with Ethernet and Audio Return (Newest HDMI Version) (10 feet) – $5.69