On my trip to buy a Blu-ray player a few weeks ago I was struck by the disparity in pricing for HDMI cables. Again, I was in my local Fry’s Electronics. In the television section there were numerous options ranging in price from $12.99 to $249.99 (yeah, I am serious). I felt annoyed by all of the options. I did not know if gold plated wires were better than the regular copper ones. Was two layers of shielding good enough or did I need 3 layers? Was there a difference between the HDMI cables that claimed to be 3D ready and the ones that did not mention it?
At first glance the packaging of the more expensive HDMI cables looked amazing; it made me feel like I would be getting my first gold chain as a teenager during the birth of Hip-Hop in New York (I know, random), as if the purchase of this item would fantastically enable my television far beyond its technical specs. But all that glitters ain’t gold. Well, even if it is.
Unsatisfied with my pricing options I decided to look around. First , I decided to shop around the store. Most Fry’s locations are massive and will have HDMI cables in at least 3 different departments. So, I walked all over the store. After leaving the TV section, I went to the general cable and wiring section, then lastly to the video game department. In the last stage of my travels I found the lowest priced HDMI cables in the store. It was $5.99. Just in case the lower priced cable did not work, I also bought a higher priced cable. No, not the $249.99 price, the $12.99 cable. What can I say, that was my limit. Once I got home I connected my 3D Blu-ray player to my HDTV with the lower priced cable. It worked well with no issues.
I then investigated some of the marketing claims I remembered. Was there a difference between 3D ready and regular cables? I found this article on Cnet that explains that there is no performance difference between HDMI cables regardless of what is written on the box. What about the shielding? Some cables claim double and others triple shielding. Shielding limits interference from electrical current in other cables that are near your HDMI cable. Interference is a real issue, but according to MyCableMart.com double shielding is plenty of protection. Now regarding gold. It is far more expensive than copper and chemically it is less reactive to other elements. But what counts is electrical resistivity and conductivity. It is a measurement how electricity flows through a particular material.
The marketing material of the more expensive cables led me to believe that gold is the best material for carrying a signal, but actually the title for best electrical resistivity and conductivity goes to Silver and secondly to Copper. Gold is actually the fourth best metal.
So, I will happily stick with the $5.99 cable. Recently, I strolled into Fry’s and saw a basket of cables for $3.50. Be sure to measure for distance between devices when getting a cable. Most are about 6ft, but longer HDMI cables are available.