The £100 HDMI Cable Scam

When you bought your last HDMI device did you get offered an upsell on your HDMI lead? The chances are that your salesman was trying to bag lots of extra commission from you in one big scam.

Retailers Prey on the Uneducated

I will explain why you should politely decline the over-priced “superior” cable and head to your favourite online retailer, or discount store, to get a better deal. A “480Hz”, “High-Speed”, “3-D” HDMI cable costing you £100 or more, is hardly ever worth it.

A Quick Background – HDMI

An HDMI Male Connector

HDMI is a digital technology that carries uncompressed audio and video data between computers/games consoles/digital TV sources to Televisions/computer monitors/digital audio devices. The original HDMI standard was devised in 2003 and it has grown with technology to cater for the increases in digital bandwidth required for HD and 3D TVs, among others.

Over time two standards of HDMI cable have been established. Category 1 “standard” cables are tested up to a HD TV standard of 1080i and 720p and these are suitable for televisions that are branded as “HD-Ready”. Category 2 “High Speed” cables are tested beyond this and are essential for 1080p “Full HD” and 3D TVs.

Back around 2012, HDMI cables with Ethernet capabilities were the latest fad. These do exactly as they suggest and allow for Ethernet signals to be transmitted over them in addition to the TV and Audio. Unless you are using high-end equipment, you won’t ever need them.

The licensing and management of the standard is overseen by HDMI Licensing LLC although that does not mean that all manufacturers are licensed, they just use certified components in their equipment instead.

What You Get Told

When you are buying a new TV, if you are in one of the long-established high street retailers you could find yourself talking to a member of staff who is trying to upsell you the latest cabling for your technology. There are lots of different markings on the packing that tries to tell you it is different;

  • Monster Cable 1000HD Ultra-High Speed
  • Monster Cable Gamelink PS3 HD AS-2M
  • Lindy Premium Gold Standard Speed
  • Lindy Premium High Speed Cable with Ethernet
  • Monster 1000 Cable 6m Cables and CONNECTIVITY (for £100 I expect lots of capitals as well!)

Basically…. unless you are spending out for a TV costing £58,000 you are not going to be able to take advantage of the top end power that it needs.

Error Rates

It does not matter which of the cables above that you buy, they are all going to be sending a digital signal (lots of 1s and 0s)  which if the cable is HDMI Licensing approved should have a minimal impact on what you see. Televisions and other display mediums use error correction for the 1 per billion error rate that HDMI Licensing specify.

Of course the quality of the cable itself might be at fault. If a cable has a is broken in it’s sheath, then as the cable flexes it will stop the flow of a digital signal and you go from a picture, to no picture; with a £100 cable just as much as a £5 one.

What Others Are Saying

If you read the consumer tech media you will find that most writers are saying something very similar; unless you are buying the very-high tech then you don’t need to spend more than a big, red, crispy £50 note on an HDMI cable. In fact, many of them would not even go beyond a £20 for their HDMI cables and my XBox360 is running onto a 32-inch Toshiba LCD with a £1 HDMI cable from Poundland.

You can pick-up decent HDMI Cables at online retailers and even the high street stores are starting to offer a “value” range in the £10 to £15 bracket, albeit hidden away.

The scam carries on though and every time a new TV is sold in high street retailers the salesman will be there to ask if you need any batteries, top-ups and that upgrade to an Ultra High Speed, 4K resolution HDMI rip-off cable for only £99 and that’s a mates rates, just for you

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