Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Displays Hardware Technology

HDMI Brands Don't Matter 399

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-monster-won't-die dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "I'm sure most of us looking for an HDMI cable have been in a situation where a store clerk sidles up, offers to help and points to some of the most expensive HDMI cables — because apparently these are 'superior cables' which we all absolutely need for the best possible home theater experience. Well, as it turns out the claims are, for the vast majority of home theater users, utter rubbish. According to tests ran on five different HDMI cables, ranging in price from less than $5 up to more than $100, HDMI brands really don't matter."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

HDMI Brands Don't Matter

Comments Filter:
  • no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440)

    shit

    • I'm shocked. Shocked.
    • by beelsebob (529313)

      Heh, here was be about to post this exact comment... I don't think really this article can be summed up any better.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Most of what gets sold in high-end home video is BS these days.

      120 and 240 FPS are invisible to the human eye. More importantly, the source material is either at 20, 24, 29.97, or 60 FPS, so either you have the extra frames showing the same frames again (thus being useless), or you generate extra frames which didn't previously exist and which look a bit plasticky and odd. In test after test, the "Motion Plus" and other BS upframing is rated as adding noise, because that's all it does to the signal.

      For tha

  • Although I grant that HDMI cables are all identical electrically, you do have to look at least a little at the build quality of the joints between the head and the rest of the cable. In the really cheap HDMI cables ($1-5) some of them are build to a really low standard and if you move/tilt/rotate your TV/Monitor you eventually wind up with a loose connection.

    That all being said, there is never a justification for spending more than perhaps $15 or $20 at absolute most. Gold plating does absolutely not
    • by wembley fraggle (78346) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:00PM (#36128432) Homepage

      Buy two and keep a spare.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Gold plating makes the contact points non-corruptible. However, gold itself is a poor conductor so its debatable if its better then nickel.
      • by beelsebob (529313)

        Worse than being a poor conductor it makes the things you plug it into more corruptible ;)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by whoever57 (658626)

        Gold plating makes the contact points non-corruptible.

        It's a pity that gold doesn't have a similar effect on our politicians.

      • Bullshit. Gold, silver, copper, and aluminum all have approximately the same extremely low electrical resistivity (high electrical conductivity) for all practical purposes. And when you are talking about plating, the distance through which the current has to travel makes the resistance of the plating material completely negligible. Gold plating is on the order of 1/5000 to 1/2000 mm (0.2 to 0.5 microns) thick.

        Heck, mercury switches and contacts were used for a long time; less so now for environmental rea

    • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:10PM (#36128522)

      Actually, gold plating decreases signal quality (by a tiny bit). The thing is that when current flows over changes in conductor material, noise is added. With gold, you usually have other material below, as copper diffuses though gold layered directly on it. So copper-nickel-gold---gold-nickel-copper is actually worse than copper-nickel---nickel-copper. One of the dirty secrets of audio contacts. Not that you could hear the difference.

      • by TheSHAD0W (258774)

        Except copper-nickel-tarnish---tarnish-nickel-copper is significantly worse than copper-nickel-gold---gold-nickel-copper. Gold electroplating doesn't add a whole lot to the cost, although it's often used as an excuse to jack up the prices.

        • by gweihir (88907)

          Well, nickel does not tarnish easily, but you are right that gold plating is cheap, easy to do and works well for low-pressure contacts. For higher contact pressure, even tin-plating is reasonable and often used on brass, such as in the pre-SATA PC internal power connectors. Gold plating gets a bit more expensive if it needs to have a higher mechanical strength.

          I use this example mainly to illustrate to HiFi Nazis that they do not understand the problem.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      the only time my tv moves is when its going into a u-haul to a new apartment / house, so thanks for the non issue alert

      • mine's on a rotating stand that gets rotated daily, so your case is not universal.

      • by tepples (727027)

        the only time my tv moves is when its going into a u-haul to a new apartment / house

        But how often do you move the devices connected to your TV? And how often does a college student "move" back and forth between on-campus housing while class is in session and home on break?

        • by Osgeld (1900440)

          I hardly move the devices connected to the tv, and good point about the students, how does that compare to the number of people who have these things bolted to the wall?

  • "I'm sure most of us looking for an HDMI cable have been in a situation where a store clerk sidles up, offers to help and points to some of the most expensive HDMI cables"

    And anybody who reads slashdot pays them absolutely no mind. Whatever the situation.

    I once asked one of them how upscaling on dvd players work.
    Answer: "it makes the resolution look higher".
    Me: "I meant *how* does it makes the... sigh. never mind."
    • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:08PM (#36128508)
      If they could give a competent answer to your question, they would have a better job.
    • To this day, I still don't get that. It stinks of CSI techno-scammery to me...

      • Why? Upscaling is just another word for interpolation. If you buy a cheap HD TV, then it will do something like nearest neighbour interpolation when you feed it a signal at below its native resolution. If you scale up a standard definition signal, then each original pixel may overlap with (making the exact numbers up) 9 pixels on the screen, but only completely cover one of them. The interpolator will approximate, and set 4 pixels on the screen for each source pixel, giving an ugly jagged look[1]. If y

        • Why? Upscaling is just another word for interpolation

          Because I never made that connection before. :) Thank you.

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      And anybody who reads slashdot pays them absolutely no mind. Whatever the situation.

      Most slashdot readers probably don't frequent those stores in the first place. I can't remember the last time I was in a Best Buy, and I know I've NEVER gone there to look for cables. I either deal with stores where they treat me like a competent adult, or I buy stuff online.

      I once asked one of them how upscaling on dvd players work.

      I think the proper answer there would have been "it doesn't".

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @06:18PM (#36129408)

      So upsampling is basically just using a technology that is better than nearest neighbour to increase resolution. DVDs are 720x480, and a full HD LCD is 1920x1080. Obviously you have to deal with that difference. If you just stretch the pixels that works fine, but doesn't look that good. What you can do is use more advanced math to try and make the upsampling look better.

      A simple example would be bicubic interpolation. You can find that in most 2D graphics programs like Photoshop. Try taking something and playing it up with nearest neighbour, and then with bicubic. While it isn't magic, bicubic looks much better.

      For more advanced examples look at 2xSal. hq4x and the like (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_art_scaling_algorithms). These ones are designed for pixel art for things like old video games, but it shows you what I'm talking about. The result is much better than things scaled with straight pixel duplication.

      In terms of the specifics for video upsampling, well it varies based on the chip used to do it, and it is all proprietary. They won't release the details. However the idea is the same. They use various algorithms to look at a frame (and sometimes data from surrounding frames) to do a more intelligent upsample.

      The result is pretty good when done well. It is amazing how good an upsampled DVD can look. Not as clear as something actually shot in HD, of course, but not bad.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @03:59PM (#36128420)
    When you've been suckered into buying hundreds of dollars of cables for your system, and you either see/hear a difference or you were an idiot, you're going to notice a difference. It's good old fashioned self delusion.

    Of course then it gets just awesomely ridiculous. [oregondv.com]

    I keep asking myself how I can get some of that idiot money.
    • I keep asking myself how I can get some of that idiot money.

      Unfortunately, if you want cables et al that are not complete junk, you often have no choice except for the "audiophile" stuff. Not everyone who buys that stuff is an idiot, some just want a solid cable that will last for 20 years and will not break during normal use.

      • some just want a solid cable that will last for 20 years and will not break during normal use.

        Wow, you described some of my Radio Shack cables perfectly (actually, I think they've made it over 20 years)

      • Excuse me, but WTF are you talking about? This argument works for, say, a guitar or microphone cable that is on a stage being stepped on; I shred about fifteen $10 cables in the lifespan of a $50 Monster cable. This argument makes no sense, however, for home theater. What kind of wear and tear is the cable going to have sitting in one place? Even if the $10 Monoprice cable broke down after 5 years (which it won't), you won't make your money back on a $100 Monster cable for 50 years.
      • by SnowDog74 (745848)

        I keep asking myself how I can get some of that idiot money.

        Unfortunately, if you want cables et al that are not complete junk, you often have no choice except for the "audiophile" stuff. Not everyone who buys that stuff is an idiot, some just want a solid cable that will last for 20 years and will not break during normal use.

        16 gauge zip cord works just fine... because the only two things that really matter, electrically, for power delivery to a set of speakers properly matched to a similarly rated amp (in terms of power output vs. speaker sensitivity rating) are inductance and capacitance, and these are driven by only two things: the thickness and length of the conductor.

        If the 16 AWG zip cord you bought at the hardware store for a few cents a foot breaks, you're not out thousands of dollars. I'm pretty sure I can replace 35

      • If you want nice over engineered cable, they are the place to go. They use Belden wire and do a top notch job terminating it. It is professional grade stuff.

        So if for whatever reason your installation calls for some over engineered cable, they are the way to go. They do custom lengths and all that jazz too.

        For regular stuff, go with Monoprice. I have been extremely satisfied with their stuff. It is well built and does what it says it does. Not super over engineered pro stuff, but then it is cheap as hell so

  • What a huge surprise.

  • Denon Gets It (Score:5, Informative)

    by Petersko (564140) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:02PM (#36128448)
    This is my favorite cable ever. [denon.com] Denon gets it - idiots want to give their money away, why not make it easy for them?
    • You have to read the instructions carefully. The current wants to flow in the proper direction. Don't hook it up backwards, or the warranty is void! I wonder how many /. readers have their 1000bT cables reversed?

      You might also want to look into the pre-charged dielectric cable. It needs a (premium - of course) DC supply to be sure the dielectric is operating in the linear range.

      These things really do work. Just ask the users who spend $K on their system wiring!

      • by dlb (17444)

        Don't forgot that electrons want to flow downhill,. so arrange your components accordingly.
        Oh, and black cables transmit faster than lighter cables,.. and you'll get a huge performance boost if you put a "TYPE R" label on each end of the cable.

    • Re:Denon Gets It (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @06:19PM (#36129418)

      How can you even refer to that cable without the Amazon page?? ;)

      http://www.amazon.com/Denon-AKDL1-Dedicated-Link-Cable/dp/B000I1X6PM [amazon.com]

      If you haven't read the user comments, you need to...

  • Well, as it turns out the claims are, for the vast majority of home theater users, utter rubbish.

    And who is really surprised by this?

  • by sycomonkey (666153) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:03PM (#36128468) Homepage
    I once wanted a 6ft HDMI cable right away. I noted that they were available at a popular online cable store for $10, and set out to find one for $20 or so, considering that to be an acceptable mark up for the immediacy required. Couldn't find any for less than $30, most stores sold them for $50 or $60. They are either price fixing or just individually deciding to rip people off. Either way I just went home, paid $12 after shipping, and waited for them to show up.
    • by gman003 (1693318)
      Yep. I considered myself fortunate to find a shop that had HDMI cables for $15/10ft. And I've heard that it's possible to make your own HDMI cable, just like you can make your own Ethernet cable, which would probably be even cheaper.
  • Especially as modern digital signals are transmitted differentially with embedded (implicit per kine) clock, as long as the signal arrives at all, it will be good. There is no degradation at all until the connection breaks down. Now, to transmit these signals, you need twisted-pair, which is very, very cheap as the same stuff has been used in network cables for a long time and is cheap to manufacture in the first place.

    The only possible differences are mechanical stability of connector and cable. But unless

  • ah, HDMI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:04PM (#36128486) Journal

    None of the benefits of analogue combined with none of the benefits of digital.

    Compression: nope;
    Error-checking/correction: nope;
    Optical fiber: nope;
    Text channel (e.g. for closed captioning): nope;
    Content "protection": yep.

    • There's a cable that includes error corection? In the cable? Or compression... in the cable? Because after all this article is about cables and their ability to transmit data, and not at all what that data actually is. Your only point that has any relevance is if HDMI is optical or not. But given that you can get fibre optic HDMI extension cables all over the internet - if it concerns you that much, then go for it, run HDMI over fibre optic.
    • Optical HDMI is available via media converters.

      http://www.amazon.com/Gefen-HD-1000-Optical-HDMI-Extension/dp/B0013LVJZA [amazon.com]

      Compression, yes. DTS-MA and mpeg-4 are indeed compressed formats.

      Text channel for close captioning? Maybe net, but what about CEC? Ethernet? etc.

      Error-checking/correction: probably not practical given the data rates.

      And you didn't mention things like being able to sync multiple data streams like voice and video and needing only one link.

      So there are digital advantages

      • Optical HDMI is available via media converters.

        Everything is optical via a media converter ;-).

        Compression, yes. DTS-MA and mpeg-4 are indeed compressed formats.

        Sorry, yes, compressed audio in multiple streams may be supported, though I'm unsure what's part of the base standard apart from PCM. MPEG4 / video in general though?

    • What's your point? Why would I care if they have compression? So I can watch my movie faster? It's not a general purpose cable. It's got a specific purpose and it fits that purpose perfectly without compression. You can send 8 channel bit-streamed audio + 1080p video (and much higher resolutions, actually) over it without a problem. Error correction? Who cares. I've never seen anybody that had signal problems with it that was caused by the HDMI cabling. And in the absolute rare case that it goes get a glitc

  • A much better comparison was done months ago here: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-vs-hdmi [eurogamer.net]
    It's a digital signal, so with the correct capture equipment, they were able to get a checksum of the image sent from different HDMI cables. And guess what, they were all identical.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:13PM (#36128540)

    I still have 19 monthly payments left on my HDMI cable!!!!!!!!!

  • CAT5 to HDMI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coolhand2120 (1001761) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:18PM (#36128586)
    To prove to my friend that super-shielded uber-expensive HDMI cables are a load of shit, I took a cheap 5 foot HDMI cable, cut it in two, soldered between the two molded connectors 100 feet (x3 cables) of CAT 5 cable. After un-sleeving and splicing what seemed like two dozen conductors I had a mass of unshielded twisted pair with two molded HDMI connectors between them, I ran the 100 foot cable on top of AC power cables, speaker cable, coax, plugged it into my monitor and it worked perfectly. The only reason I'm not still using the cable is because one of the dozen or so solder points broken in the rats nest of splicing and I would get a crazy scrambled screen (or no image), after a few dozen technical taps the splice came apart and I didn't want to take another hour to put it back together - and lets face it, it was ugly. So there it is if anyone is curious, you can run HDMI over CAT 5 for 100 feet without enough attenuation or noise to break the signal.

    And someone else mentioned that the length of the cable adds to the delay in the signal. Cable times are measured in nanoseconds, monitor refresh rates are measured in milliseconds. It would be like saying: I dunno if my RAM can handle the speed of my new hard drive. The length of the cable might add a few nanoseconds to your response time, but you cannot see the difference, you are not a robot. Long analog signal cables on the other hand can't run 3 feet without getting signal noise and causing ghosting and all sorts of other weird artifacts. All I can say is thank god all the analog A/V cables are a thing of the past. If I ever have to hear (OR SEE!) a 60hz hum again in my life it will be too soon.
    • Technically, signal noise, ghosting, all sorts of weird artifacts, and 60Hz hum happen on the digital lines, too. Good thing they just don't matter, as the 0s and 1s are still distinguishable. :-)

    • by Nethead (1563)

      Long analog signal cables on the other hand can't run 3 feet without getting signal noise and causing ghosting and all sorts of other weird artifacts. All I can say is thank god all the analog A/V cables are a thing of the past. If I ever have to hear (OR SEE!) a 60hz hum again in my life it will be too soon.

      If you're talking about unbalanced cables with RCA connectors, yeah, they are crap. But most of that 60Hz (or $local_power_frequency) is due to bad grounding. If you use balanced or differential audio

    • by kurokame (1764228)

      The propagation delay isn't the reason why length matters. S/N is why length matters. As length increases, noise increases while signal strength drops off. The point where this starts becoming a major problem depends on how noisy the environment is and how good the coupled devices are at dealing with increasingly poor S/N. Digital signaling makes it take much longer before this becomes noticeable - but it's not magic.

      But neither are the name-brand cables. Anything with better shielding and a lower gauge wil

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @06:02PM (#36129292)

      You can run HDMI over Cat-5 sometimes, depending on the resolution. The thing with HDMI is the bandwidth needed varies with the signal resolution. If you just want to do 1280x720@24Hz the bandwidth (in terms of digital bits) you need is very low and thus the cable bandwidth (in terms of analogue frequency) is also very low. If you want to do 1920x1080@120Hz it is much higher.

      It also depends on how noisy your environment is. Your example with power cables is a bad one since that is too low frequency to matter to HDMI. However if you have noise in the 100s of MHz, that is the range of the signal over the cable and thus interference can happen if the run is too long, or if the shield is bad (or non existent as in your case).

      So for consumers the easy guide to follow is just to check the cable's certification. Any cable worth buying will tell you if it is certified standard speed or high speed. Standard speed is a certification for 720p or 1080i, high speed is for 1080p. If you get a cable that is certified to the speed you need, you are good to go. All the cables from cheap places like Monoprice are.

      Now the certifications are overkill, as is usually the case with this stuff. You'll find that you can usually get a longer "standard speed" cable and run 1080p over it no problem. However the reason for the overkill certifications is that it'll work in more or less any conditions. The farther you go out of the spec, the more likely a problem is.

      Same deal with Ethernet. If you try it, you discover that you can indeed have cable runs over 100 meters, sometimes WAY over. Thing is, sometimes you'll have problems if you try. 100 meters is the "going to work almost no matter what" spec.

      Thus "just follow the spec" is my advice for regular users. High speed HDMI cables are cheap as hell from Monoprice and you just won't have any trouble.

  • about digital.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeek Elemental (976426) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:20PM (#36128602)

    Technically theres no such thing as a digital signal; look at it on an oscilloscope and its a far cry from the impossible squarewave used to represent them.
    The receiver has to make a choice when to switch a 0 to a 1, with long slopes, noise and ringing this can cause problems even if its a "digital" signal.
    Equipment today is good enough that its "never" a problem, signals get reclocked and cleaned up, crc etc.

    So no, you shouldnt buy expensive hdmi cables, but you shouldnt mistake the abstract digital concept for its real, messy electrical representation either.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      So no, you shouldnt buy expensive hdmi cables, but you shouldnt mistake the abstract digital concept for its real, messy electrical representation either.

      I don't think anyone here was making that mistake. Do you think it's reasonable to imply that any time someone talks about digital data, that they must also make it clear that they know the digital data is built upon analog technology?

      Wait... analog technology? Don't you know there's no such thing? All of the universe is quantum. There are discrete states, and it's impossible to be in between them!

      So, sure, digital is just built atop analog, but you shouldn't mistake the abstract analog concept for its real

  • where i get 'em (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, 2011 @04:23PM (#36128618)

    (i promise i'm not a shill)

    monoprice.com

    they do an awesome job of getting any type of cable i need, at an awesome price.

  • HDMI does have some error checking. Each 8-bit byte is sent as 10 bits, to maintain DC balance. The receiving end can detect at least single bit errors. The reaction of most HDMI devices is error concealment, and the error counts are seldom if ever made visible to the user.

    Some of the earliest CD players had visible error counters. This was discouraged in consumer devices by industry agreement.

    • by SnowDog74 (745848)

      I'm always amused when audiophiles (pronounced: "scientifically illiterate people with more money than brains") tout the potential for "digital jitter" or "coloration" of the signal when Pohlmann's Principles of Digital Audio had outlined that most DACs in production were manufactured with sufficient sample and hold buffering as well as internal reclocking of the signal and parity checking to eliminate such errors ... by around 1985.

  • I have found the best places to get good working (1080p) cables on the cheap that actually work are PC builder shops PC/console and game shops. Go for the braided ones with gold plugs not the cheap plain black ones with silver plugs (I find they dont give me full HD even though they say they are 1.4 certified). I recently paid AUD$17 for a 5 meter braided (blue) HDMI cable and it works fine, made in china of course but who cares as long as it works and looks like it will last. Avoid retail electrical shops
  • Here's a secret that isn't concealed very well... Almost all cable distributors get their cable and interconnects from one of a couple vendors. Belden is the primary supplier to all, including Monster Cable. They assemble the cable, interconnects, and then all the reseller does is slap sheaths on the ends that have their brand name on it. This is also why the same suit at Halberstadt's costs $500 more at Marshall Fields (or what is now Macy's)... because the suit comes from the same factory, but has a di

  • We know already (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kuzb (724081) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @08:02PM (#36130018)

    So many stories have been posted about the false claims of expensive HDMI cables that this can hardly be considered news.

You will be successful in your work.

Working...