Don’t fall victim to one of the biggest scams of the consumer electronics industry: high-priced cables.
One shopper tells the story about her trip to a big-box store to look for a new 55-inch TV, a Blu-ray player and a sound system to go with them.
Before he even picked out the television, the salesman took him over to a wall with colorful boxes containing HDMI cables and stressed the importance of getting good cables. The cables started at around $99 and went up from there.
When the shopper protested, he showed him some $40 cables but said those would be compromising the system performance.
That left the shopper not only stunned that cables could be so expensive, but wondering if the $40 cables would, indeed, be OK.
After all, he’d need four cables, one from the receiver to HDTV and one each to the receiver from the cable box, Blu-ray player and video game console.
Even with the cheaper cables from the store, that would be $160, just for wires.
Well, the reality is that, at $40 each, I think you are spending far too much. And contrary to what the salesman told you, expensive cables make for a poorer-performing system.
The reason the salesman stressed the cables so strongly is the store makes a ton of money when someone falls for this scam, so he is probably under a lot of pressure to sell them.
How bad is this monstrous rip-off? Imagine going into a grocery store for cereal. You see a box of Lucky Charms for $99. When you say that is too expensive, the grocery store employee walks you over to the Cheerios for $40.
Well, Dear Readers, paying $40 or $99 for an HDMI cable is pretty much the same as paying $40 or $99 for a box of cereal, as good-quality HDMI cables can be had for around $5.
There is actually a bigger difference in the cereals, as they are clearly different, and anyone with a functioning sense of taste and smell can tell the difference between them.
Despite the pseudoscience and claims made on the cable box, there is no functional difference between a $2,000 HDMI cable and a $5 HDMI cable.
HDMI is a digital signal, and it either works, or it doesn’t.
You can get excellent HDMI cables online for under $10. I have long recommended mycablemart.com and monoprice.com, which have nice cables for under $5.
I also like the BlueRigger cables from Amazon, which have solid connectors and very strong construction that resembles a nylon rope.
If all cables are the same, why does buying expensive cables mean you end up with a system of inferior performance? It comes down to opportunity cost.
Let’s say you bought four of the $99 cables, for $396. Now, instead of buying $99 cables, let’s say you purchased $7 cables, saving you $368.
Take that $368 and buy a better television and better speakers, and you have noticeably better picture and sound quality for the same money.