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HDMI Cables Are Cheap

This article was written by in Consumer. 30 comments.

On Tuesday, I asked our readers to answer a few questions about their household TV situation, and I found that 49% of respondents don’t use a DVR. I was surprised to learn that, but it says more about me than you guys: I’ve let myself get sucked inside an on-demand, time-shifting echo chamber of bleeding-edge TV watching. My house, in other words, is not normal.

What that means, though, is that there’s still plenty of time to share the things I’ve learned so that you can benefit in the future.

I learned that HDMI cables are cheap

Or at least, they should be.

When you’re in the electronics store getting the equipment to upgrade your entertainment center, you’ll be under pressure from without and within to get everything all at once. Furniture, batteries, universal remote, cables, etc. The problem is that there persists an antiquated idea that you’ll want expensive cables. If your new setup is all digital, this is simply not true. Digital signals either work perfectly, or not at all.

This comic strip reminder from the Mint.com blog summarizes the problem well:

Screen shot 2010-04-02 at 7.21.46 AM

In my quest for the perfect, cheap, digital entertainment center that spanned two years, I ordered more than a few HDMI cables of all sizes, and I can vouch that you should buy the cheapest ones you can find. I’ve had good luck with both MonoPrice and Amazon.com.

Good hunting.

Published or updated April 2, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Peter

I just bought a HDMI cable at monoprice.com, $5, instead of $50-100 that Best Buy wants for an equal cable. Go figure. Another place I’ve had good luck with is Firefold.com. They can be even cheaper than monoprice at times, and I’ve always had good luck with their cables..

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avatar The Happy Rock

I cringe when I see people picking up a $30 HDMI cable at Sears or Best Buy.

I think I picked up a pack of 4 for 12 bucks(shipping included) on eBay. They worked perfectly.

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avatar Wojciech Kulicki

I had no idea…my eyes are opened. :)

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avatar David

When my mom bought her HDTV, best buy wanted her to pay $129 for an HDMI cable. I didn’t let her and then got her a $7 one from Amazon. Works like a charm!

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avatar jim

I’m always amazed when I see people buy anything at Best Buy because it’s always priced higher than anything online (makes sense though, pay for staff, rent, etc.). This is especially insane when you look at peripherals… go there to research (maybe), but never buy!

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avatar Saved

AMEN! Thank you so much for this. I invested so much into my TV & Bose system that when faced with the cable choice, it’s hard not to get suckered by the sales pitch – that you need the “high quality” cable or else you’re just wasting all the other upgrades.

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avatar xtian

Bose = Better audio through marketing. Looks like you already got suckered by the sales pitch.

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avatar RDT2

Your survey did not offer an option for Internet TV via hulu.com or tv.com which is basically a free way to timeshift shows without the need of a DVR.

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avatar Luke Landes

On rare occasions, I have found things I’ve wanted at Best Buy cheaper (including tax) than Amazon — maybe once a year. Never cables. I always go with monoprice.com for A/V cables of all sorts.

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avatar Jesse

I used to work at Best Buy and yes, they push the accossories hard because they have such a HUGE markup and many of them are either made by a company Best Buy owns (Dynex, Insignia), or they have a special deal with the company (Monster).

Best Buy employees have (or used to, who knows now) an amazing employee discount which was basically Cost+5% or so, so as an employee you could go around the store and scan things to see what Best Buy was really paying for them. Most accessories that retailed at 30-50$ cost a Best Buy employee about 2-3$.

Needless to say, I haven’t shopped there since I stopped working there and I make a point to tell anyone that does shop there to look online first.

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avatar Caroline

I get absolutely no reception without a satellite dish or cable. So I saved myself a lot of money by cancelling both and using my internet for news and watching old VHS tapes (movies I actually want to see) and DVDs. Don’t miss the mundane, rerun, blah, blah, blah of television network or cable shows. This also means that I don’t shop at Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, etc. for all of the extra “necessary” items that are required to watch TV.

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avatar Evan

When I got PS 3 for christmas I went to go buy an HDMI cable from bestbuy and CRINGED at the price knowing it was cheaper online. PS3 had to wait a couple days when one was shipped to me from ebay.

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avatar Mike L

This info is a little misleading…I, too, refuse to spend $100+ for hdmi cables, however, to say that “all” cables transmit the data the same is incorrect. I purchased an HDMI cable off of eBay to save some cash, but the HD picture just never looked as crisp as the cables from Best Buy. Here, I came to find out that HD broadcasts at 10+ GBPS, and most cheap-o eBay cables only max out at 1.2…obviously a big difference when hooking up Cable or Blu-Ray! Just make sure everyone does their research before buying a cheaper version of the “same” thing on eBay. You always get what you pay for!

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avatar Luke Landes

1080p signals require only 4.46 Gbps, and most cable broadcasts are 1080i or 720p (2.23 Gbps). Any HDMI 1.3a cable (10+ Gbps throughput) will handle that. Just make sure you get HDMI 1.3a and you’ll be fine — and yes, these are available cheap.

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avatar Justin

I just got my new flatscreen, surround sound and bluray. I purchased the cables right off of amazon (the mediabridge ones that show up first if you click Smithee’s link). At $10 a piece (and free shipping), the three cables were the cheapest part of my setup (as well they should be). Had I gone to Best Buy and gotten the “Monster” cables, they probably would’ve set me back as much as my bluray player. Of course, purchasing everything online helps avoid the sales pressure at the store (even the stuff I got from Best Buy I purchased online for in-store pickup).

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