The HDMI Cable Scam

The HDMI Cable Scam

Anthony Nguyen
Aug 23, 2010

20 Gbps? Faster speed support for motion video? There's been lots of misinformation about the technology behind HDMI cables, but we're here to tell you today once and for all that paying more for an HDMI cable's features is an absolute sham at its definition. Aside from differentiated looks, you won't be getting much else compared to your cheapo HDMI cable sold at a fraction of the cost.

Here's the thing. There's no denying TVs are getting better by the day; it wasn't too long ago when 60 Hz seemed excellent compared to those big bulky CRTs which constantly struggled with refresh-rates. Now with we're seeing LCDs with upwards of up to 480 Hz. It's quite easy for manufacturers of premium cables to slap these labels onto HDMI cables to try and draw more cash out of your wallet.

Truth is, no matter what kind of cable you get, it's impossible to create a refresh-rate specific cable for HDTVs. MSNBC makes a great metaphor comparing the data sent to water in garden hose: "HDMI cables no more be manufactured for specific refresh-rate HDTVs than a garden hose can be manufactured specifically to water seeded lawns and sod lawns. The same water flows through either one."

However, that's not to confuse the fact that there do exists different cables. Specifically, two types exist in the HDMI world: 1) "Standard" (aka category 1 certified) and 2) "High Speed" (aka category 2 certified). The latter is guaranteed that the cable passes tests sending 1080p signals (and 3D) and will carry more than enough bandwidth than you can shake a stick at. Most cables sold today are Category 2 certified, but it's always good to double-check to make sure.

So, what'd we learn today? We learned that most HDMI cables out there sold today are already Category 2 and will carry pretty much every modern source's load needed for full enjoyment on your brand new HDTV. There's no discernible difference other than looks and you're best spending your hard-earned money elsewhere.

Heck, if you're that in love with yellow (or any color really), you can grab the same $130 cable for roughly $1.65 with a few bucks shipping from They even have fancier ones with net jackets that do nothing other than make it "feel kind nice" to the touch. You know, in case you're into that sorta thing.


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