The age of HDMI is finally upon us. Go to the store and pick up any HDTV and there’s about a 95% change that it’ll have at least one HDMI port. It’s not just TVs either. From the Motorola Atrix to the Acer Iconia Tab, HDMI is being included on a number of devices for connectivity to monitors and HDTVs.
However, as always tends to happen with new technology, people are jacking prices up tremendously (remember when DVD players used to cost $1000)?
Rule #1: Never buy first-party as an accessory.
Case-in-point. Motorola is so kind as to offer you a micro-HDMI cable that’ll go just perfectly with your new Atrix as an accessory on their site. How much do they ask for it? $40! And this is only a three foot long cable. Come on Motorola, surely you can do better.
If you are purchasing a cable (that isn’t proprietary) directly from the company that is also selling your gadgetry, they are likely buying from the same cheap source that you could find offered online and jacking up the prices to pass on to you. Cut out the middle man and go straight to the source.
Rule #2: Buy online.
Heading to your local electronics store is just asking to be ripped off. I’ve seen RadioShack asking $50 for a six-foot HDMI cable! The best you’ll find for a micro-HDMI cable from Best Buy is around $30.
Rule #3: Don’t be fooled by component-speak.
With analog signals, the components that the cables are made out of can arguably affect the quality of the signal as it passes through the cable. Companies like Monster charge some wicked premiums for analog cables that are described as having “patented 24k gold contact 12-cut Turbine connectors for enhanced signal transfer” and “dual solid-core center conductors for deep, tight bass and smooth, natural midrange”. I could dig up a number of debates about whether or not any of those features actually impact the quality of the signal, but do not let them pull this trick on you with the digital data that runs through HDMI cables.
As a digital stream, the data coming out of the other end of an HDMI cable is all-or-nothing. We’re talking ones and zeros here, not analog signals. As the ones and zeros travel through the HDMI cable, it doesn’t matter what material is conducting them, or how many carats gold your connector is plated in; the ones and zeros will still be read as ones and zeros once received, and that’s the beauty of digital signals.
Yes, quality of the cable is important so that you don’t see breakage after a short period of use, but do not let someone talk you up about the quality of the components in the cable and make you think that you’ll be getting better quality or clarity from the signal as it passes through based on materials – this is total BS. (Did I mention that Monster wants $90 for a four-foot HDMI cable?)
Finding Reasonable Prices
Fortunately, it is possible, perhaps even easy, to find a great deal on an HDMI cable. Here are the places I’d check:
Deals.Woot.com – The folks at Woot run a number of sites and you’ve likely seen us calling out relevant gadget deals in the past (no affiliation, we promise). They’ve got a neat site called Deals.Woot which is a community-sourced deal site. In a nutshell, community members point out good deals around the web and everyone benefits. The easiest way to approach looking for an HDMI cable is to simply type “HDMI” in the search box at the top of the page. This’ll show you any currently running deals involving HDMI cables.
For instance, as of this writing, I see a six-foot HDMI cable for $2.39 (likely with a few bucks for shipping). Still, even if shipping was $10, you’d save 76% ($37.61) off of RadioShack’s ridiculous offer!
Unfortunately, because Deals.Woot highlights deals that live and eventually die, you may not find that a micro-HDMI deal is currently being offered. Fortunately, there are other places to look.
This link will take you to Deals.Woot.com with the most recent deal results for “HDMI”.
Amazon.com – Amazon sells name-brand products but also functions as a marketplace for more obscure companies. Competition in the Amazon marketplace keeps everyone honest about their prices and the customer benefits. Remember how Motorola wanted $40 for a three-foot HDMI-to-Micro HDMI cable? One search for “micro HDMI” on Amazon shows a six-foot cable of the same type for $2.85 (including shipping)! That’s a 92% ($37.15) savings which is quite impressive.
This link will take you directly to an up-to-date search of Amazon for “micro HDMI”.
I hope this simple guide will help you not get ripped off on future HDMI purchases. Enjoy your cables and your savings!