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back to article Aussie retailer accuses UK shops of HDMI 'scam'

Want a free HDMI cable? Buy a telly from either John Lewis or Currys and you'll get one - not from those retailers but from upstart Aussie e-tailer Kogan. The online store claimed "some retailers have decided that it’s appropriate to trick unsuspecting UK shoppers into thinking a £100 HDMI cable is better than a £4 one", so it's …

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Bronze badge
Headmaster

"...puntrers can claim a freebiew Kogan cable"

I quite like "freebiew": portmanteau of "freebie" and "freeview" perhaps? Kinda works.

Not a clue about "puntrers" though.

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Been doing this for years

My dear old Dad was talked into buying a £25 SCART cable when he bought a cheap DVD player a few years back - even though it came with one.

The sales 'assistant' told him the that ones that come in the box were very cheap and may "catch fire".

B@$t@rds.

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Flame

fire?

Fire is pretty dangerous, seems to me like they were doing him a favour.

Flame icon, obv.

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Anonymous Coward

Pound Shop

Shhh - here's a secret (in the UK).

Go to your local Pound Shop. £1 will get you a 1 metre hdmi cable.

They work perfectly. No issues at all.

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WHAT!?

£1? You clearly have more money than sence. I got my most recent HDMI cable from amazon, 79p delivered!

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WHAT!?

More pence than sense?

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Ale

Cheap cables can cause interference

I have found a cheap cable caused interference on the cheap RF coax cable routed with it, causing my TV to loose reception when my bluray player was on.

I upgraded to a significantly more expensive cable with ferrite cores for £6, and that sorted it.

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Alternatively......

Buy cheap cable.

Buy cheap clip-on ferrite cores.

Job done.

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Boffin

Or...

Perhaps replace the cheap coax cable? It should be shielded to withstand interference up to a point and if an HDMI lead is getting through to it, it's no doing it's job!

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Very cheap HDMI cables

Well, I got a very cheap one of ebay for my ex, and it doesn't work past 720p. If you try and switch to 1080p it totally craps out (and it is the cable, cos another slightly more expensive cable does work ok). But we're still talking sub £2 for both the working and non-working, so it's probably just quality control that's not so good.

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altruisim ....

Whilst there is no doubting the truth of the statement re HDMI cables - fools and money etc

Clearly this is more a move to buy cheap publicity for his own company than an altruistic consumer education program

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Coat

Unleash the audiophiles!

Its all down to build quality and the materials used, oxygen free or whatever....However leccy travels over the surface of the wires and not through it.

For £100 it better be gold plated, inside and out! And require tools to unplug it from the back of the telly, so it doesnt just flop out like cheapy ones.

Mines the one with the Poundland SCART cable in it.

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Silver badge

Re: Unleash the audiophiles!

Ah, now be careful, SCART is an analogue signal, so a high quality cable will give an improved signal. How much will depend on the length of the cable. You probably won't see the different mind, but there will be one. It's not like a digital signal where it's either there intact or gone.

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Lash the audiophiles!

"However leccy travels over the surface of the wires and not through it."

Are you sure????? Very high frequency Ac tends to flow over the surface but most of the every day leccy is at a lower frequency and tends to flow through stuff.

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Happy

A tenner? Rip off!

Amazon Basics does a 3m HDMI cable for a fiver. Works perfectly.

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Silver badge

YES!

I've been saying this for years! Dixons will happily charge you £60+ for a 2m "insulated, gold plated, interference-free" HDMI cable, and their sales droids will upsell them to the best of their ability.

I remember buying my TV from Currys, and the droid there was trying to sell me all sorts of power adaptors, along with a £75 HDMI cable "for best quality". When I pointed out that those cables were pointless, and only complete mugs would buy them, he looked particularly abashed. Turned out he'd bought several himself for his own setup. Whoops!

The HDMI cables into my PS3 and Freesat box cost £1.20 each, and work perfectly. God bless eBay.

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LPF

HDMI cables

If you pay more than a £10 you have been mugged, jesus you can get them for lot less and of high quality on eBay, and they are all made in the same chinese factory!

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FAIL

Kogan - HD TVs

Free PR - great. I browsed their site. Their TV's advertised as "Full HD" come with a non-HD Freeview Tuner. I think that's nearly as bad as conning the public into paying over the odds for an HDMI cable.

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You what?

"Full HD" refers to a TV capable of displaying 1080p, as opposed to "HD ready" which usually* means 720p capable. It has nothing to do with the tuner, in fact *most* Full HD TVs only have SD DVB-T tuners.

* In the early days of LCD TVs, they were often advertised as "HD Ready", but were only capable of displaying 576p, they could accept 720p data, but downscaled it to SD. That was a scam, IMHO.

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Anonymous Coward

audience

Most punters, not readers of El Reg, will think that if they buy a Full HD TV that, when the area they live in gets BBC HD, they will get an HD picture.

You are correct, I'm just saying I don't think any retailer has an interest in pointing this out. Note, amazingly, the sales staff in John Lewis do and I found out they aren't on comission (just as well as their sets are expensive unless you compare all prices with a 5 year warranty included).

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Nonsense

I've never had to pay for a cable no matter where I bought it from. No sales-rep worth his salt is going to turn down the sale of a new telly if you start walking away over a £1 (cost to them) cable.

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Techno weiners...

The shop assistant trying to convince me that his monster cables that costs £40 minimum will give me a better picture was laughable. Talk of digital differential signals, transmission lines and acceptable bit error rates was met with a stern assurance that his expensive cable would make a difference to the picture. Needless to say, I bought a £4 cable from Asda next door...

These are the same people who still maintain that mobiles should be charged for 24hrs before being used and no amount of explaining Li-ion charge circuits seems able to dissuade them from their dogmatic rhetoric.

The only advantage I could see in buying a monster cable was the 'lifetime' warranty and the promise of free cable upgrades should the hdmi protocol change significantly. Though I wasn't going to buy one, so didn't tease out the details...

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Silver badge

Currys essentials

To be fair to Currys, the £7.99 Currys Essentials hdmi cable is one of the cheapest on the high street, and works as well as any other.

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Go

Simple, buy from Amazon

I buy ALL my cables from Amazon or their suppliers - never paying more than £7 inc the shipping. Yes, the shipping is a rip off, but that applies to all the small items they sell - and you can consolidate your orders sometimes to save on the total shipping price.

I have purchased a mini HDMI to HDMI cable for my (albiet) pricy Panasonic GH2 camera, for what, £3.95 or something, and it is excellent quality. Why should a few strands of copper and rubber cost any more when mass produced in China? Same for all the USB cables etc I have, each cost no more than a few quid and still work.

The high street stores are desperate for cash so are forced to flog all these extras, warranties etc. The solution is to buy your expensive items, such as computers, TVs, monitors from the high street (Richer Sounds, Curry's etc), where the really isn't much difference in price (+/- £50 mac), but you get the peace of mind of being able to try before you buy, support the high street retailers AND have somewhere to take it when it breaks - but then save money by purchasing all the extras online from Amazon, Play.com, Dabs etc.

Works for me!

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there are expensive but shit and expensive and good cables

i've worked with hi-fi/high-end for several years and i can tell that good cable does make difference. i'm talking about good ones, monster isn't part of this camp. monster together with few others (oehlbach, monitor cable...) use the same factory, if you buy bulk even model numbers share the same code. good cable companies are the ones who invest a lot of R&D in to technology, surface of the cable and so on (audioquest, cardas, vad den hull...) so yes, there are expensive and expensive cables, the question is which expensive cables are the good ones or are not rip-off ones. always research.

when it comes to digital cables, i suggest anyone to compare cheap hdmi and hdmi from audioquest for example. if you can't see the difference then you probably don't need that hd telly you're buying cable for

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no, there are cables that meet the spec, and cables that don't...

With a digital standard such as HDMI, a cable will either meet the specification, and pass through the data with a suitably low error rate that it can do the required level (e.g. 1080p), or not - once it meets the spec, it can't get any better.

Show me a proper double-blind study of sufficient size to prove otherwise and I'll happily eat my £5 HDMI cable...

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Silver badge

You're an idiot

"when it comes to digital cables, i suggest anyone to compare cheap hdmi and hdmi from audioquest for example. if you can't see the difference then you probably don't need that hd telly you're buying cable for"

A lot of audio cables are not digital. HDMI is. You don't get a different string of 1s and 0s at the TV if you buy a more expensive cable. The picture will be identical. Exactly the same. Indistinguishable.

If you believe otherwise, I suggest you do some research yourself. You probably don't need that overpriced cable you're buying for that HD telly you don't understand.

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idiot?

calling me an idiot because i stated what i tested and shared my findings? no sir, you're an idiot! go do comparisons yourself and then call somebody idiot!

i stated many times to my customers: if you can't see/hear the difference between cheap and more expensive cables you're lucky one and you can save money.

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Facepalm

Can't stop laughing...

"i stated many times to my customers: if you can't see/hear the difference between cheap and more expensive cables you're lucky one and you can save money."

That should read:

"i stated many times to my customers: if you can't see/hear the difference between cheap and more expensive cables you're not delusional and you can save money."

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Bronze badge
Coffee/keyboard

Snake oil

Spoken like a true snake oil sales man

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Stop

re: Spoken like a true snake oil salesman

Ah, but his is genuine snake oil, not the cheap imitation stuff you've heard about.

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Facepalm

Same thing with stereo

Gold or silver speakers cables... very expensive and

daft for audio frequencies, making no difference at all.

Mains cable is chap and fine for this purpose. another example of snake oil

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Bronze badge

Question

Are you talking "Twin and earth" or flex?

And if its flex - three core or two core?

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FAIL

"Flex"?

It's the 1930s on the phone, they want their electrical terminology back.

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Flame

Australian scams?

Do they say the same thing and make the same offer in Australia?

Just wondered.

BTW, 'audiophools' is perfect!

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Well, THERE's a surprise...

To state the bleedin' obvious, High Street stores almost invariably charge eye-watering amounts for cables and/or adaptors.

One UK chain which usually sells decent electronic/hobbyist stuff (and whose name rhymes with the surname of a great silent-screen comedy actor), flogs certain computer cables with a markup of many times the price you'd find online. Exhibit A: they charge £20 for a USB-serial cable, so I ended up buying a virtually identical one via Amazon for £4.

Unless I missed the "steeped in unicorn blood for three weeks to ensure unimpeded data flow" statement on the [cough]lin packaging, I really struggle to spot the justification for the price difference, beyond "because it's our store, and because we can".

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Coffee/keyboard

Maplin

I was at Maplin recently because I needed a VGA cable, it was £25!

Bugger off, they only cost $2!

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lots of proof

there've been lots of tech articles showing the difference between cheap and expensive

HDMI cables - both 1.3 and 1.4 spec.

if the cable meets the spec then it will work EXACTLY the same - the MD5 of the screencapture

will match exactly.

VirginMedia gave me a free cable when i got V+ installed...then a week later

I got another one in the post from them 'welcome to V+' - I guess they didnt

realize engineer left me one - he asked if i wanted to connect with SCART or HDMI - well, what a question! ;-)

LENGTH of the cable is what matters with cheaper ones...if they simply extend length then it tends to fall out of spec - you need better shielding and choking - that said, i still wouldnt pay more than a tenner for an HDMI cable - my last ones cost 2 quid each.

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Explicit proof. Probably.

Kogan's blog references http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385346,00.asp, which ends by saying that, in most cases "there is absolutely no reason to spend more than $10 on an HDMI cable." Then there's Computer Shopper's take, at http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/home-entertainment/1282699/hdmi-investigated-are-expensive-cables-a-scam, which after going on about how much the oscilloscope it used to check the eye patterns cost, tabulates the results of blind tests in which 18 out of 30 panelists perceived no difference in video between cheap and expensive cables, with seven of the remainder preferring expensive and five cheap. (Results for audio were more polarised, with more people preferring cheap cables.)

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Hmm..

"In principle yes, but we'd note that if the cable is particularly crap, it could degrade the signal to the the point that error correction can't recover it. If that were not the case, digital phone calls would be either non-existent or perfect, and digital TV signals likewise."

- I would wager that if the cable was particularly crap, it wouldn't matter a cent to the error detection working on the aerial reception or the audio compression/packet loss affecting your voip call.

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Holmes

IDE

i've seen pc world trying to charge 15 quid for an IDe cable.. their current costs for a sata cable is £3.99.. what gives you the impression they care about the customer's wallet ? the phrase 'All the Market will bear@ is an old retail standard..

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FAIL

£100? Pffft.....

This one is OVER THREE TIMES BETTER!!!!!!!!

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?q=hdmi+cable&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=4343597787926671000&sa=X&ei=U5MRTs_sAY6o8QPZtNWkAQ&ved=0CJkBEPMCMAA

Or how about £430 for a network cable?

http://homeavdirect.co.uk/denon-ak-dl1-link-cable

In fairness I did spend £40 on my speaker cables, but that's for my vinyl. Analogue is worth it. Especially Pink Floyd.

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Devil

Suckers

Most of my HDMI cables were bought for £1 on eBay and they work just as well as 'branded' ones that came with kit.

I just love telling customers in the stores to put down that £30 cable and get one online.

Tis' great to make a salesmans day even worse.

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Facepalm

Doing it for years

The first time I saw this happen in Currys was with a "Digital Minidisc Recording Lead" (IIRC). It was just a 1m lead with 1.5mm jacks on either end. I can't remember how much it was but certainly over double the price of one that wasn't "digital".

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"It was just a 1m lead with 1.5mm jacks on either end"

Are you sure? Or was it an actual digital cable (Fibreoptic) like all of the MD players that I had in the late 90s sported (look like 3.5 jacks but with a pointer end and fibre core down the middle) - in fact if I remember correctly on my old sharp MD player the fibre cable actually went into the headphone socket... so EXACTLY the same as a standard 3.5 jack.

Although I agree its been going on for years... there were fibre optic cables on offer with Gold Plated contacts...

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Black Helicopters

At the risk of being laughed at and voted down...

I bought a no-frills HDMI cable to connect my XBOX360 to my TV. For some reason, I had the picture dropping/coming back frequently. I wasn't sure what it was, but eventually came to question the cable. So I bought on eBay a couple of HDMI cable branded "PureAV" (which I believe is Belkin?) and I never had the problem since.

So as the article stated, normally cable are either conductive or not, but you CAN get an horrendously crappy cable that will somewhat mness up your signal. For that reason, I bought "quality" cables for everything now. Some people might laugh at me, but I wanted an insurance against my El-Chepo cables problem I experienced first hand, and I didn't pay full whack for them on eBay anyway (some were 2nd hand, and even the new ones were significantly cheaper than what they sell at Maplin/Currys/etc).

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FAIL

@CADmonkey

"In fairness I did spend £40 on my speaker cables, but that's for my vinyl. Analogue is worth it. Especially Pink Floyd"

No, it's not worth it. You've lost considerably more fidelity through your mechanical transmission of audio than you ever will through some speaker wire. Unless you're travelling large distances or require insulation above average due to running alongside cables with other signals, you're pissing in the wind.

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Silver badge

Actually, big fat speaker cables rule

I bought some cable for a pa and ended up using it on my hifi (it's 80 core copper wire, I think.) It made a massive difference to the sound quality, particularly the bottom end. And I listen to vinyl.

I think you're underestimating just how bad crap speaker cable can be, and what a hideous effect it has on sound quality.

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Yup they do rule, and here's a hint.

I run a high power system and play a lot of bass-heavy music, some from 24bit/96Khz FLAC. The connectors are screw-down clamps on the amp and bare wire clamps on the speakers. I know they're not ideal but I was a poor student and the setup is still going strong over a decade later.

I find that stripping an inch or two from the speaker wire, stripping and twisting the end again with something like a tea towell to stop finger grease produces a noticeable increase in high end clarity. Repeat every few months or so.

As for getting my next system, I'm already saving my pennies. www.Funktion1.co.uk kit doesn't come cheap!

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Boffin

@BenPope

Thicker speaker cable makes a difference, no matter the source (digital or analog; let's not get into that). It doesn't have to be some esoteric oxygen-free, silver-coated whatever, but fewer (milli)ohms between amp and speaker mean the speaker movement is less "free", instead better following the amp's output signal.

As well as the voltage loss you incur when running large currents through bits of wire (and, speakers being low-resistance devices, even small amounts of additional resistance in cables and connectors will be quite significant), there's the following that applies: speakers have mass. Drive them, and the mass will start moving, theoretically according to the signal. But any moving mass has the tendency to keep moving and so the voice coil and membrane will overshoot once the signal reaches its maximum. This will now *generate* a current, like all bits of wire moving through a magnetic field do. The better you are able to short the current to eliminate this effect, the closer the coil/membrane will follow the signal, and the better your speaker will sound. The amp will do the actual job of shorting (as best as it can; it's one of the factors that can make an amp sound good or bad), but a lower-resistance path between amp and speaker helps this too.

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