Editor's Blog: Roman Prefers Cheap HDMI Cables

Editor's Blog: Roman Prefers Cheap HDMI Cables

 

Apple TV finally dropped this week, and there's one thing that seems to surprise people: There are no cables in the box. None. Nada.

 

It's not that surprising to me. Besides the fact that Apple's Web site says the cables aren't included, anyone with a home entertainment setup knows that devices often don't include cables. I've made it a habit to check what cables are not included whenever I get a new piece of hardware.

 

Because ease of use and simplified setup are Apple selling points, some people are going to connect the Apple TV themselves, even if they had someone else do the TV installation; people often have professionals install the widescreen TVs that the Apple TV requires. So you might be surprised to find that the proper cables aren't included, even if the packaging says so. A company can't predict how you want to connect your device. With Apple TV, you can connect via HDMI or component video - Apple would have to include two different cables, driving up the cost and leaving you with a potentially wasted cable.

 

Chances are, you'll want to connect your Apple TV via HDMI. It's the connector between the Ethernet port and the red component video port. HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, and it's a digital connection. Apple sells XtremeMac's HDMI cable for $20. You can also find HDMI cables for under $6 or for $200. Confused? You're not alone.

 

I've never been able to tell the difference in video and audio quality between cheap and expensive HDMI cables under 10 feet. And from what I can tell on the Internet, a lot of people feel the same way. An argument I often hear is that because HDMI is a digital signal, it's not as susceptible to interference as an analog signal, such as component video. (If you know where I can read hard data to support this, let me know. I'm talking actual data and analysis. Not that I don't believe the theory, it's just that I'd like to be able to back up the argument with substantial data.)

 

XtremeMac's HDMI cable is a reasonable $20.

 

Which HDMI cable should you buy? You can always buy, try, and return, but if that's too much work, go with a price you're comfortable with. Yeah, it's a cop out, but I've met people who just can't believe a $4 cable will work as well as a $20 cable - some people are willing to pay a little more for peace of mind. But I do think that paying $200 for a HDMI cable is too expensive for a $299 device. We plan to use XtremeMac's HDMI cable in our Apple TV testing.

 

Have experience with HDMI cables? Does anyone have experience with HDMI switchers that let you connect multiple HDMI sources to a single TV? (My TV has only one HDMI port.) Post a message in the comments section below.

 

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Dustin

I am tired of all the peeps saying that there $4.00 cable is better than my monster 1000 series $149.99 cable. Do the research on the 2. I had a $10.00 HDMI cable on my 1080P Samsung and you can tell a HUGE difference in picture quality from the naked eye. Both of the cables do the same thing deliver 1s and 0s from point A to point B Monster just does it ten times better. I could tell a difference in every aspect of the picture. So don't hate on Monster cables just because you can not afford them or don't want the best of the best like I do. Heres a good example to think of. Yes, a Lexus might be over priced but it will get you from point A to point B way better than a Ford Escort will.

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Cableguy

The comparison between Lexus and Digital Cables is not accurate - A lexus is a completely different product when compared to the escort - However a digital cable like HDMI is the exact SAME thing - you merely got ripped off ! Dont feel bad there are hundreds like you - people who did not pay attention to the Physics course in High school.

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MacZiMiZer

here's the hard data

http://boardsus.playstation.com/playstation/board/message?board.id=ps3&message.id=828972#M828972

careful though, word gets out and Sony might get sued by best buy and such for letting the truth get posted on its forums heh

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Stone

So speaking of HDMI cables, is there such a thing as a DVI to HDMI connector available? I'd like to get a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player and if I didn't have to buy a brand new TV that would kick butt.

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rloyola

Yes, there are HDMI to DVI cables. In fact, the Apple TV manual suggests using a HDMI to DVI cable if your TV doesn't have HDMI.

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Pete Sterling

I bought a 5 port HDMI switch box with IR remote from Monoprice.com for $88. A manual, dual port switchbox from the local BB chain is selling for $200. I'm going to connect my PS3 and Upconverting DVD player to my single HDMI port widescreen this weekend. I don't expect any problems.

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rloyola

Let us know how it all goes this weekend. I just might get one.

 

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Peter Sterling

I tried setting up the five port HDMI switchbox from Monoprice but ran into two problems, one a show stopper.The first problem was a bad HDMI port. The first port displayed pastel colors with a lot of snow. Moving the HDMI cable to any of the other ports cleared this up. So one out of five HDMI ports was bad. Monoprice will replace this with another unit just as soon as I call them on Monday. The show stopper is this switcher or any other switcher will not work with my home theater receiver and widescreen. I have a Sony DG800 AV receiver with a Satellite HDMI in, a DVD HDMI in and a monitor HDMI out. The widescreen only has DVI in so I'm using a HDMI to DVI cable to connect the receiver to the widescreen. After several hours of trying to get this to work I finally read the fine print in the Sony manual that read if HDMI is used that sound will only play thru the TV speakers and not the home theater. So with this receiver and widescreen combo I can only have two HDMI devices connected to the receiver and still have 5.1 sound. If I was not using this home theater receiver then the switcher would work as advertised. This particular receiver won't allow for more than the two HDMI devices and use the 5.1 sound. Bummer.

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Fred

Pete, I'm running a Panasonic 42" Plasma, w/ 2 HDMIs in, one from my upconverting DVD player, the other is pending Satellite install this week. I'm routing audio through a digital line from the DVD out to my Boston surround system, the TV panel audio is muted, and no issues. Dunno if this an option for you; the Boston DT6000(?) system is older, has optical in, digital in, & std RCAs in. Good luck!

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Ted

Monoprice.com has HDMI cables from $6. Retail HDMI cables are beyond stupid when it comes to price gouging. Best Lie is still trying to push their $117 monster vareity. A side note: HDMI is a digital cable...materials used to make the cable are not nearly as critical as it would be for an analogue cable. A $6 HDMI cable will perform the same as a $20 or $60 one.

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Anonymous

HI! monoprice it's the only one that has cheap HDMI cables. I found a company that has cheap HDMI cables and will ship them out the same day you order them,i order my HDMI cables from cableslimited.com and i had them in 3 days.i order some HDMI cables from monoprice and it was 5days before i got them.

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StringBoy

The cheapo monoprice cables are just as good as any rip-off cable. I have been unsing monoprice HDMI's for quite a while with a perfectly crisp picture from my HD upconverting DVD player and my Apple TV. I won't buy cables anywhere else. They have everything you need. Even with shipping it's a sweet deal!!

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