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 …

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  1. Neil Brown

    Paying not with cash...

    ... but potentially with personal data:

    "The Promoter may, for an indefinite period, unless otherwise advised, use the information for promotional, marketing, publicity, research and profiling purposes, including sending electronic messages or telephoning the claimant." (clause 15)

    It should, of course, be easy to unsubscribe, and exchanging personal data for a £4 cable may seem a fair deal for those rich in data and poor in wires .

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hooray.

    I've been arguing this for months and months... there is exactly *no* reason why a three hundred quid cable will work any better over a three quid one, if the three quid one meets the specs.

    As Kogan says - it works, or it doesn't.

    I blame the audiophools, who seem to have infected the population as a whole. I don't blame the manufacturers who are well aware of the old saw about a phool and his money...

  3. Alex Walsh

    Monster!

    It's always made me laugh. A digital signal is either received or not received, as I'm all too aware when it's pissing down on our exposed sat dish. paying £100+ for a HDMI cable is the modern equivalent of being gulled by a snake oil seller.

    The only downside of cheapo cables are their propensity to fall to bits, which puts them in the not receiving category imho.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Eh no.

      A digital signal is a series of bits either signifying on or off. The world unfortunately isn't digital and still suffers from nasty analogueness which means that the standard way to determine if a "bit" is on or off is to set a threshold for the analogue value - over that setting, it's a 1 and below it's a 0 (in some systems the meaning is reversed but that's just semantics)

      Cables are not perfect and neither are the components converting from analogue to digital. So the cables can cause problems around a range of analogue signal values which can be misinterpreted by the receiver as the wrong binary value.

      Ultimately, this can translate to corrupt images portions or temporary sound dropout that doesn't affect the entire stream and not necessarily consistently.

      This "it either works or it doesn't" is a vast simplification of an extremely complex situation or shows a lack of understanding of basic signal engineering.

      In the world of audio, the law of diminishing returns certainly applies but the purer the copper in the wiring, the better the signal at the receiver (in the case of audio, the speakers.) If you're speakers aren't up to the job or your amp blows, all bets are off of course.

      A more expensive cable can and usually does give a better reproduction of the original recording as long as the expense is due to improved component make-up and not on the usual "name" premium.

      As you pour more money into the cable, the signal improvement tends towards 0 so for most people, it's a compromise between stupid money and good signal.

      1. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Oh dear

        Better reproduction? that's a very confusing way of putting it. That suggests one cable would produce a better image than another, but the one which is producing the inferior result will be faulty as it is producing errors.

        I would say a better cable reduces the chances of getting errors, but I suspect errors are very few and far between.

        All you need to do is get the signal into the TV without errors. An average HDMI cable will do that no problem.

        Why spend a fortune on high cables when the internal cabling of the TV is much much cheaper and works perfectly fine.

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Maybe so

        But nevertheless, my £6.99 Currys Essentials hdmi cable gives me a perfect picture, as does the £2.50 one I picked up at a computer fair. A £120 Monster hdmi cable would give me an equally perfect picture.

      3. Eponymous Cowherd
        Thumb Down

        Actually....

        While the situation certainly is more complex than "it works or it doesn't", in practice, the margin of the degradation of a digital stream that produces results between "perfect" (no error correction needed) and "unacceptable" (error correction can no longer compensate) is exceedingly narrow.

        If your cheap cable can transfer the data such that no error correction is required, then you will gain no benefit whatsoever by buying an expensive cable.

        While a high quality cable may provide error free transmission over, say, 10m, while a cheap one cannot, if you only need a 2m cable then both will provide error free transmission and the £70 cable offers no benefit over the cheapie.

      4. Return To Sender
        Thumb Up

        @AC, re eh no...

        Agree that it's not a simple as some posters are thinking. I suspect the improvement in single vs. increase in expenditure tends to zero very rapidly, though.

        Picture this: many years ago wandering around major audio event, browsing a high-end kit builder's stand. Notice interconnect cable to speakers on the demo system, an unusual colour for audio cables. Collar engineer type on stand and to paraphrase;

        "That bright orange cable. Is it what I think it is?"

        "What, 13 amp mains flex? Yeah. Works a treat..."

        So £stupid/metre for homeopathic ley-line aware directional oxygen and intelligence-free cable, or pay just as much as you need to to get the job done... FWIW my HDMI cable runs are mostly short and cheapo 1-2m cables work just fine.

        1. Lee Dowling Silver badge
          FAIL

          Sorry

          Sorry, HDMI runs at a maximum clock rate of about 340MHz. Inside that, there's a useful data transfer rate of about half that. That brings it into line with Cat5 cable, which costs about £50 for 305m on a one-off purchase (connectors and crimpers included).

          Since then, there is Cat5e (which can handle Gigabit-rates), Cat6, and Cat6a (which can handle up to 10Gb Ethernet and potentially more). And these data rates are at **100m*** (or 50m, in the case of 10GbE), not the paltry interconnect distances between HDMI device. How much is Cat6 cable? About £50 for 305m.

          So assuming you bought a 100m HDMI cable, assuming it was running at 1920×1200p60, assuming it has only 8 connectors on it (Cat5/6 only has eight wires inside, HDMI has more than twice that for little reason), assuming the quality of the connectors was better than some manually-crimped RJ45 plug, then it would be worth about £60 (£120 if you doubled all the connectors to make up for missing pins). For a two-metre HDMI cable? I'd expect to pay about 40p/80p - call it pound-store stock by the time you package it. Stick gold-plated (pointless) connectors on it and a bit of quality control and you're into the £5 range. There's zero reason for it to cost any more than that. Ethernet has been surpassing the datarates and requirements of HDMI for decades and in fact if you want to extend HDMI, you're expected to use CAT6-convertors/extenders for it.

          There isn't nothing "special" in even the most expensive HDMI cable. Either something meets the HDMI specifications and can carry the logo, or it doesn't and can't - if it meets the specifications and is undamaged you will get a perfect digital image. There might be quality issues in terms of production (e.g. connectors falling off, conductors not taking kindly to right-angles and kinks, etc.) but in electrical terms HDMI cable is surpassed by the stuff that joins your printer to your wireless router (or whatever).

          Even the analogue audio-cable scam was absolute rubbish. Digital signals, there's no excuse. I can't remember the last time I saw a packet re-transmit on my Ethernet statistics on any switch or computer I've managed in the last ten years - because it just doesn't happen when you cable and connectors and in spec. And my Ethernet sockets / plugs get more abuse than the average HDMI port - hell, they get plugged in and unplugged every single day into a dozen different devices and still work flawlessly. Unless you're rolling your chair over them, they work. HDMI is no different or more special just because it's carrying audio/video data. If the cable meets the spec, it meets the spec and can do 1920×1200p60, 4096×2160p24, or whatever the relevant spec revision states. If it doesn't meet the spec, it can't be called an HDMI cable.

          1. Some Beggar
            Thumb Up

            [puts on snivelling sycophant hat]

            I would just like to agree wholeheartedly with Lee Dowling's back-of-envelope sums and general conclusions. These days there is practically no such thing as an uncorrected error when sending digital signals over short-ish lengths of cable.

            Glitches can still happen - reading from storage isn't infallible, terrestrial and satellite signals can be rubbish, transcoders can get their knickers in a twist - but cables should be waaay down the bottom of your list of concerns.

          2. Tim Hale 1
            Happy

            Yes!

            'If the cable meets the spec, it meets the spec and can do 1920×1200p60, 4096×2160p24, or whatever the relevant spec revision states. If it doesn't meet the spec, it can't be called an HDMI cable.'

            Thank you! A £120 cable will be better than a bit of string, but a bit so string isn't an HDMI cable.

            BTW, I've read people claiming that special SATA cables can improve the quality of MP3 files!

            "It's a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable; it's a lot wrong to say it's a suspension bridge."

        2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Coat

          Also seen mains flex used for...

          a long RS232 serial printer cable, but it caused a bunch of confusion when we tried using hardware flow control.

          Yep, the one with the D25 breakout box in the pocket.

      5. John 172
        Thumb Down

        Nice Try

        Modern digital cable signalling standards aren't '1's or '0's at all, they're generally some form of differential signalling and some of them are not even binary (ethernet was ternary last time I looked). Furthermore the clock is encoded with the data, so generally, you either receive the signal entact, or you don't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Common schoolboy error

      It's never as simple 'received or not recieved': digital transmission formats have error correction systems built in to them, to deal with data that doesn't get through. In addition to these, the data encoding schemes will be designed to cover up a percentage of 'permanently lost' bits, but eventually it gets to a point where the lost data can't be covered up, and you get skipping on your CD, or artifacts on your DVD, or Freeview broadcast, or breakups on DAB, etc.

    3. Doug 14
      Meh

      No Error Correction

      Can we just clear something up once and for all. There is no error correction ( should I put that in capitals ? ) on HDMI. None , nothing , nada.... this is one way raw data transfer there is no error detection let alone error correction. If digital was all it took for your ' it either works or it doesn't' approach then why do we have error correction on network comms , clearly they 'shouldn't need it' after they are 'digital'.

      Common sense should lead us to conclude that in the absence of error correction, the only defence against data corruption is cable assembly and cable components , both of which are likely to escalate in cost the more attention is given to them.

      What is in the favour of those who advocate cheap cable is that most people only need a 1m cable and over those distances data loss is likely to be minimal, however in cable world length is not the only issue since most problems arise at the junction points i.e. the plug and the socket and the plug and the cable.

      Clearly there is a law of diminishing returns here, I doubt a £20 cable is going to be twice as good as a £10 cable , but I don't have any difficulty believeing that it is a better cable and if I choose to by it on that basis then surely I should be entitled to do so without being called an idiot.

      1. Some Beggar

        @Doug 14

        "No Error Correction" "one way" "raw"

        Data and audio use an 8 bit BCH parity word in each 32 bit packet header and in each 64 bit subpacket.

        It has a two way I2C-ish control channel.

        And the video data is 10/8 TMDS encoded.

        "should I put that in capitals ?"

        You can write it in 48 point magenta comic sans if you like ... it'll still be bollocks.

        1. Doug 14

          sigh

          BCH parity applies only to the Data Island Period not the Video Data Period. The data island period is involved with audio and control only.

          Video data uses 8b/10b encoding , but that is to control signal skew and has nothing to do with error correction.

          True error correction would require bi-directional control signals , packet retransmission , buffering etc none of this happens when you send data over an HDMI cable.

          Can we please stop confusing digital data transmission over hdmi with digital data transmission using an error corrected networking protocol.

          1. Some Beggar
            FAIL

            Stop digging, Doug 14.

            Your original statement was "There is no error correction ( should I put that in capitals ? ) on HDMI. None , nothing , nada". This was bollocks and remains bollocks.

            "True error correction would require bi-directional control signals"

            This is more bollocks. Forward error correction schemes don't require a back channel. You encode the data with 'spare' information that can be used to spot and/or correct transmission errors.

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It works or it doesn't?

        So you buy the £10 cable, try it out. If it doesn't work you return it and buy the £20 one? Net loss £0 net gain possibly £10?

        Or if you are in the shop, get them to test it there and then.

        Yeah, you might have made an extra special trip, just to buy a cable so the fuel costs could outweigh the risk but who would drive a long way just for a cable?

        Anyway, the story is about a £4 versus £100 cable - both of which are usually no more than a couple of metres.

        I've also bought hundreds of short HDMI cables all at less than £3 and none of them have ever had problems, despite some of them being regularly pulled in and out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Digital, smigital

          All us AV afficionados know that the picture and sound quality is much better the more you spend on a cable, stands to reason dunnit *sniff*

          Let me explain for those mere mortals who don't understand how the price of a cable affects the signal quality.

          It's the comissionaire effect.

          When you buy a fancy aligned crystal N2 treated gold/rhodium plated cable the riff raff noise signals see the fancy gold and expensive price tag then don't dare enter as they're intimidated by the expensive appearance and all that gold piping on the shoulders of the plugs, they prefer a cheaper Lidl/Aldi cable as it's more in keeping with their social standing, thereby allowing more of the pure, clean cultured cogniscenti signals to enter and enhance the profit margins of the retailer...

          I've bought dozens of dirt cheap 15 (yes, fifteen) metre HDMI cables from CPC to connect screens for exhibition and shop display use, the only time I've had a problem with one is when some muppet has run over one or damaged the connectors in some way. the picture quality is utterly indistinguishable between the <20quid ones and the hugely expensive ones recommended by the 'display solution' vendor. Sure, perhaps with 50k of test equipment I might be able to show a minor difference but I doubt it'd be significant and certainly not worth the mark up on the cables.

          By all means go and get your wallet raped by a retailer if it makes you feel better (I'm going to call you an idiot though) but from experience I *know* that there's no difference other than price, plus I can afford to carry half a dozen of the cheap cables as spares for when some twat loses/steals or destroys a cable an hour before an exhbition opens doors.

        2. Arrrggghh-otron

          Read this...

          If you are really interested you should read this.

          http://gizmodo.com/268788/the-truth-about-monster-cable-part-2-verdict-cheap-cables-keep-upusually

          I have been using a 15m £20 HDMI cable for a couple of years now on my projector and it will happily display 1080p...

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    4. Chad H.

      Well

      I cant speak for HDMI, but I can speak for ADSL broadband. I have seen faster syncs on 10m High quality RJ11 cables than ISP supplied 2m RJ11 cables. There's more to it that it works, or doesn't - whether its enough to really have any massive effect over a short HDMI cable I'm yet to be convinced.

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        @Chad

        Different problem. ADSL on the telecoms side is an incredibly "noisy" way to splice a large amount of analogue frequencies into different "digital" channels - it's more an A-D problem than it is digital - the transmission is analog to the local exchange / street cabinet and only there is it converted to a real digital signal. So you're actually arguing analogue performance again, which is a different matter (HDMI is only EVER digital). Think of it being a set of modems that all use super-high frequencies (standard old-fashioned 56K modems only use AUDIBLE frequencies so that phone transmission doesn't interfere). ADSL is a bunch of 20+ modems on different high frequencies and only some of them ever connect at any one time (with splitters to separate out the audible frequencies so you don't get more interference than necessary)

        Plus, that RJ11 cable connects to your house phone wiring, shares frequencies with any and all phonelines in your house, connects to 20+ years old cabling to the exchange / cabinet, uses only two pairs at most, is subject to all sorts of homebrew extensions and convenience and - get this - there is no such thing as an "ADSL certified cable" that will give you perfect reception if you use it (mainly because you'd have to plug it in at your local exchange, but also because there's no way you could specify such a thing well enough - and if you did, BT would have to replace every bit of copper in England to correspond to the standard). RJ11 cables (actually, that's the name of the connector) are just analogue cables. Most of the time you can get away with only a single pair inside them being wired. They aren't rated for any particular frequencies or anything, unlike HDMI, Cat5, etc. They are basically a bit of copper. I promise you, you can run a phone line over mains cable, jumper cables from electronic sets, even old headphone cables - I've done it when testing internal telecoms for my employer. You could do it with a set of car jump-start leads if you wanted. You *can't* necessarily do the same with Ethernet / HDMI, and you certainly couldn't sell it as an "Cat5" or "HDMI" certified cable because it does not meet the spec at all. It's an entirely different matter.

        But HDMI is still inferior to that cable that plugs into the side of your laptop and has done for the last decade at least.

  4. banjomike

    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.

    Well, in that case, TAKE THE CABLE BACK and get it replaced, it is FAULTY.

  5. Sean Inglis

    Mechanical failure

    @alex makes a valid point. *Very* cheap cables can suffer mechanical defects, can be a bit less flexible than you'd like, fit poorly etc. etc.

    I've replaced exactly one cable because of this, and just get whatever cable is the right length for about a fiver.

  6. David Barr
    Trollface

    Unconvinced

    I've found that my megaexpensive Monster cable produces a much more defined picture and if I was to try to describe it I'd say it was warm and fuller. I'm now putting my fingers in my ears and I'm going to say lalalala and make sure I can't hear you because one step worse than wasting my money on a placebo cable would be admitting I'm dumb enough to get scammed. I'm now going to advocate the cable everywhere I can.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surprising

    No surprise at Curry's, that's prime shit advice and extended warranty territory that. Surprised to see John Lewis accused of it though, they're usually pretty decent, at least in my local one, maybe more dodgers work in ones down south.

    That's free enterprise for you though, if the public are stupid enough, you're free to rip them off, whilst under the protection of agencys like the one mentioned.

    1. TheOtherHobbbes

      Only very special people

      can truly appreciate a very special cable.

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

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        The reviews for that cable...

        are priceless.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      LOL

      That would be like saying a higher quality USB cable results in clearer print outs from your printer.

    3. Clive Galway
      WTF?

      "Monster cable" warmer picture

      Are there separate pins for R G and B in HDMI? Surely not? I would have thought that all image data would be packed into one data stream?

      If so, there is no way to get a "warmer" image from an HDMI cable - that would require errors on all bits bumping up the red channel by a certain amount or something like that - statistically impossible.

      You either get the pixel transmitted right, or a (probably random) error. The same hue shift for all pixels would never happen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Clive Galway

        Aren't there four screened twisted pair cables like ethernet cable, one TP for red, one for green, one for blue, and one for clock?

        But the earlier poster was being sarcastic The signal is coded and digital, these analogue sentiments do not apply.

  8. Andy Fletcher
    FAIL

    Big surprise

    Tech retailers have always overcharged for cables. When you make a fiver selling a £200-£500 pound piece of kit, of course you're going to attempt to improve your margin by flogging the punter a cable for £10 or more.

    If Kogan can give away cables, they're either charging more for the expensive part of the order (so no sales) or just not making any money (so they'll just go titsup). I don't see how either of these options ultimately helps the consumer.

  9. spegru
    Thumb Up

    Too right!

    I needed and HDMI cable in a hurry the other week - £50 later I was a not very proud owner of a 3m article that was noticeably over-packaged. Thing is, the longest I could find on the day was 3m and I wanted a longer one. Off to ebay I went and found 5m and a 10m examples plus a joiner.

    4.99, 5.99 and 1.99 respectively (from memory)

    Absolutely fine and even work ok when all joined together!

  10. John Arthur
    Thumb Down

    How much?

    " it's hard to recommend a £100 HDMI cable over one that costs a tenner." Who pays a tenner for one of these?

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/242255

    I certainly don't

    1. Thomas Davie
      Devil

      Or...

      They're spending £4 per john lewis/curry's consumer who hears about this deal (a low number) in exchange for getting a load of free advertising in the tech industry to people who might actually buy from them ;)

    2. Captain Underpants
      Meh

      @Andy

      I imagine Kogan aren't really concerned about "helping" the consumer, except for those helpful actions that also result in Kogan getting more business. But then, charging a customer a three figure sum for a cable that has, in technical terms, no advantage over a cable sold for a single figure sum isn't really helpful either. There again, to steal a line from Iain M Banks, the default setting for capitalism is that neither helpfulness and fairness are included.

      I would imagine this is a creative exercise in getting extra people onto their mailing list, more than anything else.

  11. Newt_Othis

    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.

  12. leon stok
    Thumb Up

    Finaly

    Even reading about this forces me to 'focus on my breathing'.

    Having seen my parents ripped off by pushing them to buy an absurdly priced HDMI cable when buying their all-in-one BR player set (thank God, I already gave them some UTP cables, or else those would have been 'Monster quality' as well), and being stopped 3 times already by my wife in a shop when in discussion with a sales c*nt ("e's not worth it luv!') it is more then overdue to stop this insanity.

    Still It it not against the law to give consumers a choice to overspend, but I just can not blame some people to be overwhelmed by techno-babble and double-speak. The only thing 'we' can do is to spread the word.

  13. M7S

    At the time of writing

    the email address listed in the T&Cs for this offer comes back as non-existant.

  14. a well wisher

    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

  15. RichD

    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.

  16. Bristol Dave
    Thumb Up

    *APPLAUSE*

    Currys are the worst for this. They were selling a Belkin HDMI lead for £99.99 that was available on eBuyer for a little over £12.

    Whilst we're on the subject, their HD vs. SD demonstration (on two TVs side-by-side) needs some independent investigation as to how they've quite blatantly fiddled the SD signal to look appalling.

  17. Steve Evans

    Indeed...

    I've long thought this.

    Oxygen free copper/silver wires and gold connectors are all well and good if you are an anally retentive analogue audio purist running cables over an excessive distance, but in the digital world of 1's and 0's a 40% loss in signal still won't turn a 1 into a 0 or vice versa. Does your motherboard have gold tracks connecting the RAM to the chipset? Nope. Is your Sata of Pata cable oxygen free? Nope. Yet they happily move seriously large volumes of data about in an environment flooded with digital noise - and Pata isn't even screened!

    I don't think I have an HDMI cable in my house which cost more than £5, and I defy anyone to tell the difference.

  18. 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.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  20. Havin_it
    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.

    1. corrodedmonkee
      WTF?

      title

      Actually, the record I've found walking in to a shop was Richer Sounds.

      1m HDMI cable, £119.99.

      Was nearly as much as the amp I was buying. Took a photo of it as I was so amazed to see one at that price.

      Went down to ASDA and bought three 2m ones for £5 each.

      1. Daniel 1

        That's not the best part, though, is it?

        The best part is that the Special Magic Cable is probably turned out on a yuan/100 meters piece-rate basis, in somewhere like Foxcon City.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Agree but...

      Your motherboard does indeed have gold tracks in it. There is about 1g of gold per motherboard

      1. Ommerson
        FAIL

        Er.. no...

        No they don't. What they do have is gold plating on edge connectors and some connectors.

        The tracks on the PCB are made of copper and there's considerably more than 1g of metal on them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fail yourself

          Did I say there was only 1g of metal in the board. No, I said there is about 1g of gold and that is correct. Also I was making it simple as there isn't just gold on the contacts, there is gold in many of the components and on some boards all the exposed copper is plated first with nickel and then with gold so it could be said that there is a gold track all the way from the RAM to the chipset. I do know what know what I am talking about, I was making a simple explanation to somebody who I thought didn't know there was any gold in a motherboard, and I am aware that what I have just typed is not a full correct explanation either before you try to correct me.

          1. Steve Evans

            re: Fail yourself

            Well you wasted your time. I am fully aware that there is gold on the motherboard, but the tracks going from chipset to CPU and memory are not gold plated. IDE cables are not made of oxygen-free organically farmed dodo tail feathers either, just standard tinned copper wire.

            Exposed tracks are plated to prevent corrosion on old style edge connectors and such. However 99.9% of the motherboard is not exposed tracks. It is coated. Even the exposed track plating is over the top for normal PC use.

            So my point about high-speed digital signals travelling in a high RF interference environment without any need of exotic materials still stands.

    3. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Down

      Alternatively......

      Buy cheap cable.

      Buy cheap clip-on ferrite cores.

      Job done.

    4. Rich 30
      Flame

      fire?

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

      Flame icon, obv.

    5. Rich 30
      Thumb Down

      WHAT!?

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

    6. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      distortion

      I had the same sort of "discussion", the frank and open kind, with an audiophile many years ago, when I mentioned that all he was doing was replicating the guitarists distortion perfectly he was so dumb struck that it took him about 3 hours to come back with "but I listen to classical music as well"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        WHAT!?

        More pence than sense?

    7. Tim Hale 1
      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!

  21. Greg J Preece

    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.

  22. Andrew Ducker
    Happy

    A tenner? Rip off!

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

  23. 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!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Steve Evans

      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.

    2. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Down

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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).

    3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      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.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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".

  27. hexx

    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

  28. Arrrggghh-otron

    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...

  29. jonathanb 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.

  30. Bassey

    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.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    Maplin

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

    Bugger off, they only cost $2!

  32. Vision Aforethought
    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!

  33. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    Australian scams?

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

    Just wondered.

    BTW, 'audiophools' is perfect!

  34. robin48gx
    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

    1. Alex Brett

      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...

    2. Greg J Preece

      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.

      1. hexx

        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.

        1. Fibbles
          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."

        2. AceRimmer
          Coffee/keyboard

          Snake oil

          Spoken like a true snake oil sales man

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

    3. graeme leggett

      Question

      Are you talking "Twin and earth" or flex?

      And if its flex - three core or two core?

      1. Bristol Dave
        FAIL

        "Flex"?

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

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    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.

  36. Detective Emil

    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.)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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.

  38. Jelliphiish
    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..

  39. CADmonkey
    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.

  40. Frostbite
    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.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    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).

  42. BenPope
    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".

    1. David Barrett Silver badge

      "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...

  43. BenPope
    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.

    1. sabroni 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.

      1. Suburban Inmate
        Thumb Up

        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!

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      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.

    3. CADmonkey
      Boffin

      Mechanical transmission of audio, for all it's limitations...

      ...reaches places in me that digital music can only dream of

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't there

    a company that will sell you a power cable for a grand claiming that it will improve sound quality? I think El Reg did a report on them some while back

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Bah

    I used to work for Currys and can attest to the high mark-up on cables (Monster stuff only came in later). Of course in my day it was SCART leads so perhaps the same argument doesn't quite apply, but I distinctly remember being told that we made no money on some TVs if we "failed" to sell a £13-20 cable along with them. Also, did you know they used to put different letters on the tickets to indicate to the sales people which items had the most margin on them? Scoundrels!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its in the eyes

    Just watch the face of the bloke in Currys when you say "no" to the overpriced "premium" items. You'd think you'd just run over his puppy.

  47. corrodedmonkee
    Pirate

    parents

    My dad came back with a £35 HDMI once. He was dead happy with the quality increase it provided, as it allowed him to upscale. I didn't have the heart to tell him he overpaid by probably three times.

    I always help them out if they have questions, but the expensive digital cable is a completely false economy. Unfortunately he is still stuck in the analogue age, where it actually did make a difference.

  48. LuMan
    Trollface

    HDMI at John Lewis

    Well, a quick squizz through the John Lewis website brings up a handful of cables ranging from £15 to £60. Couldn't see any for £100 (although they may be available in store).

    TBH, if I was peddling something like plastic tea cups, I'd probably paint some of them red and charge a premium for 'Executive Tea Cups'. If someone wants to pay the cash then I'll let them (you pay your money and takes yer choice, and all that).

    FTR my HDMI cable came free with something and works fine.

  49. Lottie
    Coat

    *sigh*

    It DOES make a difference. A big difference! Allow me to explain:

    Cheap cables use thinner wires to transfer the data. These thinner wires produce a tighter radius curve when they get bent through dangling behind your telly.

    Data is made up of 1s and 0s. The 0s can move freely due to their curved nature, but the angled edges of the 1s get stuck in the tighter radius of the thinner wires.

    Therefore, you get a buildup of data and subsequently a congestion of 1s in your wires.

    This is why processors have burst caches. The tracks on the motherboards are too sharply angled and the cache builds up to bursting point and a "burst cache" relieves the pressure.

    Same with cables. So unless you want cables to explode and litter your room with EM interferring 1s, I suggest you buy expensive, thicker diameter cables.

    Mines the one with the PC world application in the pocket :-)

    (yes, it's a joke)

    1. EyeCU
      Happy

      Excellent

      That is a brilliant Fry-ism - you should have entered it.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Ozzie ripoff

    The cable ripoff is well and truly present in Oz as well. With retailers cutting their margins and offering (usually the same) low price on audio/video equipment, they like to sell massively overpriced cables.

    I was amazed that Dick Smith Electronics was doing this, and I found it really hard to find good value cables anywhere. I promised to send my in-laws some cables from the UK.

    Then I noticed that Maplin were into this overpriced cables thing too over here. Fortunately CPC are good for cheap cables: http://www.cpc.co.uk and I have a trade account

    :)

    1. Magani
      Go

      Kogan in Oz

      As the place where he started (AFAIK), he needs to do the same in Oz with particular aim at:-

      Hardly Normal

      Mrs Smith's Son, Richard

      JuBs HiFi, and

      World Of Wankers

      All the above have sales droids who want to rabbit on about the advantages of $60+ HDMI cables.

      I bought my last one from Officeworks at $20 for 2m - still overpriced but not extortionate.

  51. Zog The Undeniable
    Thumb Up

    £100 cable vs £10 cable?

    £3 eBay cable FTW. And don't get me started on hi-fi interconnects; there may be some justification when you're dealing with a weak phono signal, but a one-volt line level signal over a very short piece of copper isn't going to be noticeably degraded by a cheap interconnect. As long as the plugs are properly connected, anyway.

    There is a vague justification for half-decent speaker cable as thin bell wire can suppress bass frequencies, but the sort of 99.999999% pure, hand-rolled on the thighs of Swedish virgins stuff you can pay £30,000 for is about as honest as a 419 scam.

    1. GavinL

      Cheap Audio cables

      Some years ago an audiophile collegue of mind ran some tests with phono interconnects comparing "cheap, included in the box", £30 hand made by local hifi store, £60 leads and some home made leads using cheap 32/07 multistrand patch wire twisted together with cheap but solid gold plated connectors total cost about £7.

      In blind tests against a number of friends the home made cables won with the £30 ones in second.

      The HDMI to DVI cable I needed to go between my V+ and my TV was less than £5 from Amazon.

      PA Audio cables, I make myself or oder in bulk from companies like VanDamm

      The quality of the cable and therefore the cost needed for any job is proportional to the frequency and distance involed.

      When working in SatComms we had £200 2M cables because at 14GHz, anything less the attenuation was too great., even these had a loss of about 5db/m

      Gavin

  52. Bristol Dave
    FAIL

    Maplin

    When I worked there years ago, the old EPOS system had a "hidden" menu option where you could see the buy price of products (any other Maploids remember this?)

    At the time they were selling IXUS Gold-Plated Serial cables. Yes, you heard right - 9 pin serial cables, over which you'll get a max data rate of either 115kbps or 320kbps depending on the UART chip, but with gold plating.

    They sold these for £29.99.

    The buy price? 72p.

  53. Richard 116
    Stop

    Get your facts straight everyone!

    I've never read such a load of old tosh about cheap HDMI cables being the same as expensive ones. When I raised an eyebrow at 70 quid for an HDMI cable in PC World a very knowledgable you man explained to me that they were for 'HD'. Cheaper and therefore inferior cables available elsewhere 'err... aren't'.

    That's that settled then.

  54. Iain Thomas

    Cheap cables better.

    Hi.

    Someone try plugging one of them "monster quality" cables into, say, their V+ box, and comment on the quality. Into the side HDMI input of their telly.

    Without using adaptors to get the connectors to fit. Or sawing the plastic down.

    Remember, ensuring cables meet the HDMI specs is a condition of the licence to use the HDMI trademark. The chunky connectors, on the other hand...

    Regards, Iain.

  55. Anna Logg

    results of an objective test:-

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/di...vs-hdmi?page=2

    £1.50 cable or £100 cable, same hash code from frame grab = exactly the same data.

    It is of course possible to make a HDMI cable so crap it doesn't work correctly, after all a gigabit signal has fast rise/fall times and there's little to no error correction on the payload. But any HDMI spec. compliant cable will give precisely the same picture as any other.

  56. Anna Logg

    there go the laws of physics

    "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"

    Sorry but 10110 is 10110 irrespective of whether the cable cost 2 quid or 2000 and will give EXACTLY the same picture.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    Ho hum

    The argument that "10110" is "10110" is only part of the story. There's slew rate, ringing, over-shoot and under-shoot.

    Why do digital signals become unusable at some particular distance? Look up 'capacitance per metre' of cables. Now imagine a length that works but with a different capacitance. It's simple really.

    When you have multiple signals in parallel, including differential signals, and they all need to sync-up it's even more important - "10" then "01" sent in parallel is not the same as "10", "00" and if one signal lags the rest by enough that's what the receiver can get.

    I don't disagree that a cheap but reasonable cable will often be equal to a ridiculously priced cable, but expensive == good, cheap == crap, isn't necessarily the case, and to say all cables will be equal and will work just as well in the digital domain simply is not true.

  58. Terry Kiely
    Joke

    Blatant trolling :)

    The thing we are all forgetting is that obviously an expensive Apple branded cable is beter than anything!

    Troll grenade dropped and running away.................

  59. Stuart Halliday
    Facepalm

    cheap and not so cheerful?

    I can buy a decent 1m HDMI cable with gold plated connectors from a respectable online store for £2.

    Shame more people don't know this and get charged over £10 in shops.

    A 1m 3.5mm stereo lead to connect your music player to your car stereo can be had for 80p and yet the high street shops still sells these for £8!

    Amazing isn't it?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. AceRimmer
      Stop

      Hang on

      Apple haven't even invented cables yet!

    3. Anna Logg

      @AC 14:49

      “The argument that "10110" is "10110" is only part of the story. There's slew rate, ringing, over-shoot and under-shoot.”

      Well yeah, that’s why I said one post up….

      “It is of course possible to make a HDMI cable so crap it doesn't work correctly, after all a gigabit signal has fast rise/fall times and there's little to no error correction on the payload.”

      But nevertheless if 10110 is decoded then it give EXACTLY the same picture irrespective of the cost of the cable.

  60. Ball boy

    Argument for expensive cable?

    Okay, tongue in cheek but here goes:

    Of course you need an expensive cable for HDMI / TV 2.0 or whatever else I'm selling! The reason is simple: if you're watching, say, motor sport from Japan, the signal has to come from many, many miles away and this final selfless act on your part helps ensure the quality is right up there.

    Sold. Wasn't so hard now, was it? ;)

    btw: 2.5mm twin and earth (ignore the earth line) for speakers is excellent. Far better than bell wire because, believe it or not, moving a bass unit requires current and with only an 8 Ohm load, that 0.25 Ohm in-line resistance starts to make itself noticed. As a number of people have said over the years, improving on the standard bell wire for speakers is the cheapest, most cost-effective upgrade most HiFi owners ever need do...

  61. Michael 47

    PC World is the worst

    the one that made laugh is once in PC World when someone tried to sell me a fibre optic cable with gold plated connections. He looked a little confused when i just laughed and said no thank you...

  62. Jim 59

    Bamboo pick up arm

    Oxygen free cable

    Gold plated plug

    Green CD marker

    Monoblock amplifier

    Bypass tone control

    Thermionic valve

    Special capacitor

    goldy-looking scart

    £100 HDMI

  63. Robert Jenkins
    Boffin

    I'll stick to pound shop quality!

    @Ho-Hum

    Quote:

    The argument that "10110" is "10110" is only part of the story. There's slew rate, ringing, over-shoot and under-shoot.

    Why do digital signals become unusable at some particular distance? Look up 'capacitance per metre' of cables. Now imagine a length that works but with a different capacitance. It's simple really.

    OK:

    Now look up 'Transmission line' -

    Capacitance per metre is closely linked with characteristic impedance; it does not cause distortion of the signal.

    Slew-rate is primarily a characteristic of the Driver, not the cable.

    Ringing and overshoot occur with un-terminated connections, not propertly matched transmission lines.

    The ONLY relevent characteristic of a balanced digital transmission line is the attenuation; the signal at the receiver must be a suitable amount above the receiver threshold levels.

    As others have said, dirt cheap CAT5e cable is rated for 100m per leg with each pair rated to 350 MHz. Cost of the cable itself is in no way a major factor in the selling price

    The attenuation of any normal HDMI cable is trivial, over those distances any moderate quality paired cable should work.

    Any argument that cable quality can cause subtle changes on a digital link are ludicrous.

    If anyone is in doubt - try very slowly pulling an optical cable out of it's socket while you are playing music through it and see what happens when a digital signal degrades below the receiver threshold.

    It is in no way subtle, so watch your speakers & eardrums!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @AC 14:49 "Ho Hum"

    Not just hum, but general noise as well. The domestic electrical environment is getting increasingly polluted by various sources of wideband electrical noise. Usually these things are unintentionally emitting as an unintended or ill-suppressed side effect, such as yer typical cheap switched mode power supply. On the other hand, powerline Ethernet is polluting by design. But moving on...

    In lots of cases the local RF environment won't be of any consequence.

    Sometimes, in some marginal cases, it might matter. It'll start to get increasingly important as more folks have things like HDMI switches which will likely degrade the end to end signal quality.

    Anyway, didn't we have this whole discussion back in January:

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/01/13/russ_accessories/

    Back then someone kindly posted a link to a company that's done some quantitative analysis on the qualitative aspects of HDMI cabling:

    http://www.bluejeanscable.com/articles/belden-hdmi-update.htm

    Enjoy.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *sigh*

    The lies and avarice of the UK strikes again...

  66. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I used to think there was much of a difference

    I always had a problem with 1080p on my setup, I've tried different repeaters and cables, no change.

    Then I replaced the monitor and it works now.

  67. Matthew 17

    there is a benefit when using long cables, but...

    Why they didn't just use an optical connection is beyond me, they already used them for audio, it's not like you can't get the through-put needed.

    for a short cable then it doesn't really matter, you wouldn't spend £100's on a SATA cable.

  68. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    No amount of money

    Can improve HDMI cables - they have the worst designed connectors I have ever seen. Clearly, the designer's priorities lied elsewhere (HDCP consumer rip off, perhaps?)

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    "cable quality can['t] cause subtle changes on a digital link"

    "Any argument that cable quality can cause subtle changes on a digital link are ludicrous."

    Are they?

    I know nothing about how the HDMI signals are encoded but if I were writing a spec for the transmission of audiovisual signals over a medium which may sometimes struggle to supply the necessary bandwidth in an error-free way, I'd do something a bit smarter than (say) Manchester encoding or Turbo codes or whatever other mechanisms are traditionally used when all the bits of data are equally important.

    With HDMI, given that we know what the signal in question is being used for, I'd ensure that stuff was encoded and error protected in a way that gave the MS bits of the data a lot more robustness than the LS bits, because people will be less likely to notice the errors in the LS bits, especially as (afaik) there are no error counters anywhere in an HDMI setup so punters can confirm whether or not their "digital" transmissions are error free.

    Obviously this isn't the same way you'd encode a classical Ethernet frame or disk block or DSL frame, where all bits are equal (and where error counters are almost always an important part of the setup).

    You still sure there's no room, no room at all, for "subtle effects"?

  70. Fenton

    Expensive ones are crap

    Well I had to buy a £30 cable at John Lewis. Was in a hurry and needed a 5m cable.

    Now the difference between an expensive cable and a cheap one?

    The moulding around the connector.

    The cheap one is fully moulded so if you knock it it just falls out.

    Now the Gold plated connector is clipped on. You knock it and the cable falls out and bends the pins on the inside and it becomes worthless.

    (Why do flat screens have connectors on the back which stick out so you can stick it on the wall, hence the reason of knocking the connector when trying to wall mount the bloody thing)

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Audio rocks...

    Anyone remember the pebbles some company were selling a while back. Somehow were meant to make your "audiophile" equipment sound better...

    Had some 80 strand speaker cable for my speaker setup, worked great and only pennies a metre. Did try standard mains cabling but twin and earth is hard to route, fine for fixed locations though.

  72. Steve Evans

    £100 for an HDMI? You're not trying hard enough Bruce!

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001NXQRSW

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