Pick The Right HDMI Cables Without Getting Ripped Off

Savvy Consumerist reader know that you don’t need to shell out big bucks for the monstrously expensive HDMI cables some blue-shirted guy is pushing on you in order to get a good hi-def video signal. In fact, as long as you need less than 50 ft, cheap cables you can get at places like Monoprice, Newegg, PCH Cables, or Blue Jeans Cable will do the job just great. But for those friends and loved ones who don’t quite get it, you might want to show this them clip done in cheezy instructional video style to help drive the message home.

(In fact, you don’t even need fancy cables for 3D TV, says Consumer Reports.)

How to Skip the Fancy Cables and Save [gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes] (Thanks to Michael!)

PREVIOUSLY
Never Pay More Than $10 For HDMI Cables
CNET Says Cheap HDMI Cables Just As Good As Pricey Ones
Do Coat Hangers Sound As Good Monster Cables?

Comments

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  1. Maximus Pectoralis says:

    Even if you do need a cable for a long-distance run, MonoPrice has 100 foot HDMI cables with built-in equalizer / signal repeater for less than the cost of a 6′ M*****r cable!

    • dangermike says:

      An equalizer for a digital signal? That seems like a bad idea to me.

      • Maximus Pectoralis says:

        I believe the “equalizer” just reads and removes noise from the input signal and repeats a clean signal at other end, so while it is called “equalizer” it is more like a signal repeater. It is not equalizer in the audio sense of increasing or decreasing amplitude in parts of the audio spectrum.

      • majortom1981 says:

        Even digital has a certain amount of feet that it can travel before it needs to be repeated.

        • dangermike says:

          Agreed. But unless they mean a low frequency high pass filter (really just DC decoupling, essentially, which still won’t make much sense since digitall signals are usually on/off rather than positive/negative), I can’t see a whole lot of use for an equalizer. To get the squarest waves, you’d ideally want all frequencies to be of the same amplitude.

  2. Marlin says:

    Just remember don’t use your credit card if you shop at Monoprice. They still never admitted they were the reason I and many others had to get new cards due to their fault.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Even more so, don’t use your debit card! Many credit card issuers offer single use card numbers. You generate a new number that ties to your account and decide how long it is valid.

      • Southern says:

        IIRC, Paypal will also generate “1 use” credit card numbers that will protect your actual CC number.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Is it possible you just didn’t get the letter?

      About two weeks after the breach occurred, I got an apology letter and a 1 year enrollment in credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

      • Marlin says:

        No they did not send me one as it happened before they said they had a problem. Me and many others got the shaft on it.

        Like I said before they tried to cover it up and then only admitted the smallest part of their failure.
        It was not the breach that has turned me off of MP but their trying to cover it up.

    • davidsco says:

      PCMicrostore.com is having the same problem

    • foofad says:

      Crap. I just bought some cables from them. You really reckon there’s still a problem? I googled it after I read what you said and haven’t found anything recent.

      • Marlin says:

        No this was early this year.

        My problem is not even the breach, but that they tried to cover it up and even in the end used dates that I and many others know are false.
        So if it happened again they would even try harder to cover it up and blame others. So I chose to not shop there.

  3. Mighty914 says:

    Amazon.com. I got mine for 99 cents each. They work perfectly.

  4. stevenpdx says:

    Some great acting in that video.

  5. FoxCMK says:

    Amazon has also jumped on the cheap-cable bandwagon, offering very low-priced cables of (relatively) good quality that are getting pretty awesome reviews. And since it’s Amazon-sold, they fall under their normal free shipping/Prime account umbrella.

    I’ve been buying all of mine at Monoprice, but since I’m a Prime member, I’ll probably start going with Amazon for the free shipping. However, a price comparison is ALWAYS in order.

    • esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

      Definetly need to do price comparisons with Amazon’s “Free” shipping. I just ordered 2 special Samsung USB cables for $1.45 ea and two micro USB cables for $2 ea from Amazon partners without free shipping. My final price was just under $25. If I had gone with Amazon’s cheapest priced, “free” shipping cables, I would have paid around $30.

    • Doncosmic says:

      I make very very good use of the 1 month free of amazon prime every 13 months.

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      “I’ve been buying all of mine at Monoprice”
      How often do you need to buy HDMI cables?

      • FoxCMK says:

        I wasn’t specific. They’re making all kinds of cheap cables, not simply HDMI.

      • DH405 says:

        All the time. I have a policy. If I can GIVE someone a $4-5 Monoprice HDMI cable, and that keeps them from buying a $60 cable from Best Buy, then I’d happily be out the five bucks.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Do most Blu-Ray players come with HDMI cables? If not, I’m going to have to buy some soon.

    • NaptownMVP says:

      No, they don’t. Most come with composite (red, green, blue) cables.

    • zegota says:

      Not in my experience. I’ve yet to get a bundled-in HDMI cable with any consumer electronic device.

      • selianth says:

        That was one benefit to being a Nielsen family for a couple years. When they installed all their monitoring equipment on our TV’s, Blu-ray player, game systems, etc., they used a whole bunch of new cables and left them there when they removed their equipment 2 years later. Score!

      • sufreak says:

        I got one with my Hanspree TV from costco.

    • c!tizen says:

      That would be a negative, good buddy. Most come with VGA some with composite, but I haven’t seen any with HDMI. If you look at the sites I listed in my comment below you find good ones cheap. I got some from parts-express so cheap that I bought 10 of them and only paid like $26. They come in various sizes as well, but it’s still a great deal and the picture and sound on all of my setups are awesome.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        That sucks. Manufacturers should just bundle HDMI cables. I bought mine from NewEgg but it didn’t occur to me that one wouldn’t be bundled.

        • c!tizen says:

          agreed.

        • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

          They learned by watching the printer industry who went from at one point including both a Parallel cable and USB cable, as well as a black and color ink cartridge with some sample paper to just a box and a printer.

        • Powerlurker says:

          They don’t include the cables to appease the bricks and mortar retailers who sell the player almost at cost and rely on warranty and accessory sales to generate a profit.

    • Thassodar says:

      I got one with a Panasonic Blu-Ray player I bought, it was about 10 ft. I do believer PS3s come with one as well.

  7. c!tizen says:

    parts-express.com or deepsurplus.com, both great places for good quality, low price cables. Deep surplus also throws in a free bag of Skittles with your order, not sure why, but I enjoy them.

  8. framitz says:

    I buy the shortest and least expensive HDMI cable for the job. Never have paid more than 6 bucks. It takes a little effort but it’s worth the extra few minutes.

    • Harrkev says:

      Well, there ARE some instances where better cables make sense…

      For RCA cables, thicker with better shielding is worth a couple of buck more, as are gold-plated connectors.

      Do *NOT* cut corners if you are doing something like installing cabling in the walls or ceiling where it is more expensive to replace a cheap cable than it is to buy good cable in the first place. In that case, shielding and bandwidth are important and worth paying more up front.

      But I still would never buy over-priced cable from a “guy in a blue shirt.”

      Friends don’t let friends buy “Monster.”

  9. lemortede says:

    Monoprice FTW.

    • Marlin says:

      MP FTL…

      http://www.databreaches.net/?p=11216

      Thing is the breach happened much early than they said.

      • majortom1981 says:

        Come on they enrolled most people in credit monitoring for a year and sent an apology letter with it. Thats better then most businesses. So your links dont matter.

        PS I was one of the people who got this letter. I still shop at monoprice. there customer support rocks!!!1

        • Marlin says:

          As I said, I and many got our CC stolen because of MP and they cut their dates so small to cover their butts and cost they did not admit to full fault.

          AGAIN the breach is not the bad part. Them covering it up and then only admitting to a small part is the problem.

  10. NaptownMVP says:

    http://www.cablesforless.com Great site. 6′ HDMI cable for four bucks. I have one on the cable box and one on the Xbox, and both look fantastic.

  11. CaughtLooking says:

    Excellent acting. I hear the Golden Globe nomination calling now.

  12. Portlandia says:

    I love PCH Cables. I live in Portland an there warehouse is near me here in Oregon. I outfitted my entire Home entertainment center (including a 30 ft HDMI Cable) for less than one of those MONSTERously overpriced cables!

  13. SG-Cleve says:

    Bought a new HD TV last week.

    When I exchanged my cable box at the Time Warner office for a new HD box, they GAVE me an HDMI cable.

  14. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Monoprice. So good they don’t even have an affiliate program.

    As far as a credit card breach, the breach window was for purchases between Feb 23-Mar 5, 2010. Monprice contacted customers, and offered one year of credit monitoring. I believe that PayPal processes their payments, so this may have been a paypal issue. Regardless, this IS the internet folks. Your card is vulnerable at any website as long as hackers live and breath.

    I will buy from them as long as they deliver quality goods at a remarkable price, with reasonable shipping.

    • Marlin says:

      Wrong. The breach happened before they said it did. They cut the dates down so to make it not look as bad. Mine was stolen BEFORE Feb23.

      They tried to cover it up and when that did to work they admitted a lesser failure.

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        I am sorry it happened to you. Again, your card is vulnerable on the internet as long as hackers live and breath. “Internet Security” is an of an oxymoron at best.

        But – I would hate to see a great company go down because of a security breach. I don’t know about when it exactly happened, but I will continue to do business with them using ONLY a credit card. If it were to happen again in the near future, THATS when I would stop using them.

        • Marlin says:

          So a “great company” is one that tries to cover up said breach and then lie about it?

          Man I hate to see what you think a bad company is.

      • Doncosmic says:

        Or you THINK that yours got stolen from there.

        • Marlin says:

          I only used that card at MP and Homedepot (and that was not online).

          So yes I KNOW MP was the failure. Many other also had their info stolen BEFORE Fed 23 as MP said.

          • Rachacha says:

            No, you THINK it happened at MP. I have a credit card that I never used in person or online, it was only used to hold a 0% balance transfer and the credit card was apparently used for purchases made in person on the other side of the country with the card in hand, but the card is still stuck to the mailing card locked in my safe at home where it has been since the day I received it.

            Credit card numbers can be stolen anywhere at any time, and while the MP databreach provides a convenient scapegoat for your issue, I doubt that you have hard evidence to prove that the card number was stolen from MP.

            I have purchased thousands of dollars of cables and equipment from MP, and thousands of dollars of products from Home Depot, and have never had a problem. However, I fully realize that the next purchase at either one of these stores could result in my CC number being stolen, but after hundreds of personal transactions at each of these stores, they both have earned my trust that they are doing what they can to protect me, and even if they do occasionally have a problem, I can rest assured with the protections that I am provided with my CC company. Until a store demonstrates a repeated compromise of my data, I will continue to shop there as long as I receive the desired level of customer service. If the world stopped shopping at every store that had a data compromise for one random person on the internet, there would be no stores left.

            • Marlin says:

              The charges were the SAME as all the others that got stolen from MP, places and items. I looked into as I rarly used that card so AGAIN I am 100% sure it was MP. I was not the only one.

          • Silverhawk says:

            How much earlier? I made purchases from MP just prior to the breach, and did not have issues with unauthorized charges, nor was I notified of the breach.

          • majortom1981 says:

            You do realise there exists something called a card reader. How do you know the cashier at home depot didnt use one . heck how do you know he did not just memorize your card number?

    • Dukebruno says:

      I was burned by the Monoprice data breach. My card company made good on it but I never heard from MP regarding any sort of apology or credit monitoring. MP offers payment through Google Checkout so that’s how I pay for my purchases now. Their products and prices are too good to pass up.

  15. Jimmy60 says:

    The yellow, composite video cable, is also exactly the same as a coaxial digital audio cable. If you are hooking up coaxial digital audio, no need for a special cable if you have any yellows around. Coax audio also works fine through a regular audio cable even if the impedance is supposedly incorrect. Coaxial digital audio is identical to optical for sound quality.

    You can get away with using a composite audio/video cable to hook up component video. Supposedly there is an impedance difference between the red and white audio wires and the yellow video wire but this is unlikely to show up when the wire is short.

    I hate to see people waste money on wire.

  16. jason in boston says:

    For custom and “fancy man” installs, Bluejeanscable is what I choose. For regular installs where I don’t need to worry about hiding cables, monoprice.

  17. IphtashuFitz says:

    The right HDMI cable is pretty much any you buy at Monoprice. We have a 35 footer from them that we use to hook up our laptop to our TV to watch netflix videos on. Works like a charm.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I wanna do this. I need to get a cable. I want a Roku box also, since I watch a LOT of Netflix and don’t want to hook it up every time. They dropped the price a bit so it might be within reach soon.

  18. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I get my HDMI cables at the grocery store. HEB plus has nice 6′ 1.3c cables for $6.

  19. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I make my own HDMI cables at home.

    • scoosdad says:

      Actually you can now. There are HDMI crimp connectors and crimp tools so if you buy yourself a spool of the cable, you can cut and make your own to length, like you can with CAT5 cables.

      (It’s not cheaper than buying pre-made, though. It’s mostly for custom home theater installers who need to snake them through conduit or inside walls.)

  20. ssm316 says:

    Over the weekend my cousin kept trying to tell me my monoprice HDMI cables weren’t as high :”quality” as his 100 monster cables. I helped him hookup a Tv with mine and whatya know its looked the same

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      I once had a Comcrap “technician” try to tell me that component would give a better signal than HDMI.

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        Actually, they are about the same, the “secret ingredient” in HDMI is HDCP copy protection. And we’ll all be ever so happy when our expensive electronic gear becomes useless without buying new gear.

      • Minj says:

        In some situations, it can. If the tv is analog, then you need a digital to analog conversion somewhere in the line. If you have a very good source, it might have better DACs than your TV. The same applies to audio. You have to choose where you want your conversions to occur.

  21. Starfury says:

    After watching this entertaining (and informative) piece I may want to ditch the component cables that Dish hooked up and just go to an HDMI cable from the box to the TV.

    • Arcaeris says:

      You should, component video/audio takes up 5 freaking cables, whereas HDMI is one. If anything, at least you’ll clear up some of the tangled mess that is a modern entertainment center.

  22. damnisuck says:

    In all matters related to digital cables cheaper is better. That isn’t true with analog cables such as component, composite, or speaker cable. Those types of cables are where quality matters. For analog cables you should buy the highest quality cables you can afford.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Except speaker. Here you want to make sure your wire is big enough to carry the current, but we are talking about a really high signal level. As such interference isn’t an issue.

    • Rhinoguy says:

      I spent thirty years installing audio and video gear while working part time as the head engineer at a college radio station. I have a degree and a federal license (First Class Commercial Broadcast). I have used RG-59 antenna cable for ALL video connections except the transmitter, no matter how long. Entire TV studios wired with RG-59. Most any length of audio I sent down either a simple shielded cable or in a few rare cases, twisted shielded pairs. Any length. I send speaker levels down any fat pair of wires. Lamp cord, speaker cable (clear colored lamp cord) or even Romex house wiring (labeling the wire is IMPORTANT). Digital is the same way except you have to use repeaters at fifty feet. Your speakers can still be hooked up with Romex. Anything that doesn’t physically break when you run it under the rug is okay. Just don’t put house current under the rug.

  23. Scoobatz says:

    I just purchaed a 6-ft HDMI cable at Five Below. Works great.

  24. EdK says:

    Amazon has a line of “AmazonBasics” cables that are priced well, too. Surprised that wasn’t mentioned.

  25. cytoman says:

    You can also shop at Meritline.com. Truly amazing prices and mostly free shipping. I bought (3) 6ft cables for $4.57 and free shipping.

  26. shoan says:

    cool article but I make my own HDMI cables at home bro. :P

  27. yessongs says:

    I paid a dollar for a 6ft HDMI cable, it works great. Got it via ebay. If you paid more you are an idiot.

  28. Frogskins says:

    After the BlueJeans Cables/Monster fiasco a while back, I won’t look anywhere else for cables. I will give my money to anyone who takes on the monster.

  29. Cyniconvention says:

    Dropped maybe 15$ on one yesterday.

    it makes a big difference, especially when watching your favorite movie.

  30. dush says:

    Monoprice, reputable and quality?

    • majortom1981 says:

      Yes. Dont listen to the merlin guy who says about the credit card breach. i got sent an apology letter and free credit monitoring for a year.

      There cables rock. Even their other products work great also .every now and then they have external iphone/ipod batteries for $4 that rock

  31. Beeker26 says:

    eBay is your friend for all things cables and cellphone accessories. Literally a fraction of what you’ll pay in most stores.

  32. LordieLordie says:
  33. FrugalFreak says:

    NONE of them are right if they aren’t designed to let CLOSED CAPTIONING pass to the HDTV.

    HDMI is discriminatory.

    • ZacharyTF says:

      If you have a cable box hooked up to the TV via HDMI, you can turn on the closed captioning on the box.

      1) Have the TV and Cable Box turned on.
      2) Press the Cable button at the top of the remote, and then the Power button next to it.
      3). Press Menu about halfway down the remote on the right side.
      4) If this works, a menu should pop up on the screen showing you options for screen format and closed captioning.
      5) If it works, press Power to shut off the menu, press Cable and Power to turn the box back on.

  34. palfas says:

    The “old fashion” effects are way over done. Who ever did the post editing needs to turn it down a notch, I was about to have a seizure

  35. ceez says:

    my brother inlaw purchased a 65″ 3d HDTV, they sold him 2 monster cables at 100 bucks a pop for the tv and the bluray player.
    I told him that at biglots they had 6footers for 6 bucks each. he’s one of those that the more expensive the better, but I convinced him to try it, if they dont work return it and keep your 100 buck cables. the ‘blue shirts’ told him that they needed the good gold plated, magic dust infused cables for the 3d and general screen resolution to look good in such a large screen.

    they ended up keeping the expensive cables. I wasnt there, but he told me that when the geeks went to install it they had them test with the cheap cables and that there was a big difference, colors, noice ‘noise’ and not as crisp. I just shrugged it off and dont know if he really tested it, but heck that’s what I have at home for my comcast hd drv (i know comcast, sorry) and 1 monoprice cable for my xbox360. looks fine to me.