February 03, 2009
| by Chuck McKenney
For the average consumer, A/V cables are usually an afterthought when it comes to purchasing gear. We spend most of our time researching the big ticket items and rightly so.
When you’ve just forked over $1,200 for a new flat-panel and Blu-ray player, spending $75 on HDMI cables seems reasonable. But most A/V experts advise against it. The main reason being a $10 6-foot cable typically performs just as well as one priced five times that. Some manufacturers have sold cables for as much as $500!
“Price differences are not untrue in any product category, although it might be more egregious in the world of cables,” Steve Venuti, President of HDMI Licensing, LLC, told Electronic House back in August. “Our main concern is compliance. If a cable meets compliance and sells for $10, while another similar cable sells for $100, we don’t get into that. Certainly consumers could be surprised by the cost of cables at retail, but that’s a market factor that we don’t get involved with.”
There are situations which call for spending more on a higher quality cable. If there’s more than 50-feet between your components, you should research your options before buying the cheapest cable possible (Read: What is the Maximum Run for HDMI Cabling?).
Here’s a look at some of the online retailers with a reputation for selling good HDMI (and other) cables at low cost.
Gizmodo, CNET and most of the folks over at Audioholics all recommend this online retailer. You’ll find cables of all types, gauge and lengths. We found a foot of HDMI cable for as little as $3. A warning to the average consumer, the wide array of cable specs can make you dizzy. Make sure you know exactly what type of cable you need.
Bluejeans Cable also comes highly recommended by many “pro”-sumers. Like Monoprice.com, you’ll find cables of all types. There’s also an “HDMI information center” loaded with questions, answers, articles and other resources. When we visited the site, there was a 25 percent off sale on 24 AWG Silver-plated copper HDMI cables.
As any Amazon.com veteran knows, you can find products from various retailers. A quick search revealed a 6-ft HDMI cable for $4.54 (via SuperMediaStore). We also found cables made by Cables to Go, Eforcity, Bargaincell and Mediabridge. If your total purchase exceeds $25, you receive free shipping.
The site with the best motto: “Saving the world… from High Priced Cables since 1996.” They break up their HDMI cables into categories: high quality, standard quality and commercial grade. A quick glance under the “standard quality” category finds cables as low as $6.59 for six feet.
That’s four of the top web sites for buying good cables on the cheap. Do you know of any others? Let us know in the comments below.