Published 7 Sept 2009.

HDMI cables:
No need to pay exorbitant prices

Despite claims from many cable makers, you do not need to spend a lot of money on HDMI cables. Especially if the distance between your player and TV is only a few metres.

It is common for TV salespeople to insist that you need a pricey HDMI cable with any new purchase of a modern TV set. These cables may be $150 or more. I have seen some 10 metre HDMI cables retailing for NZ$600.(about US$400 at the date of this article)

While it is fair to say that some cables are better constructed than others, for the typical domestic situation, there is no need for cables incorporating super density gold, hyper helix wound, oxygen-free and conductors which defy known physics. No, just get some generic brand cable which will cost just NZ$35 for a 5 metre length. These cables are more commonly available from on-line stockists.

For you more technically minded, go to Blue Jeans Cable site where there is a lot of sensible discussion on how HDMI cables are made. This is a cable manufacturer, but one which takes some pride in debunking the hype that can build up in this industry.

I have done some tests on a number of name brand cables as well as generics. The tests involved connecting fifteen different HDMI cables in turn between a Panasonic BD30 blu-ray player and a Sony Bravia full-HD LCD set.The cables ranged in length from 1.5 metres to 10 metres. Using various test discs, playing out at 1080p/60 there was absolutely no variation in picture quality from any cable. No subtle changes in brightness, contrast, colour or motion artefacts.

In order to see what happens when a HDMI connection fails, we joined a number of cables together. We saw nothing until we had a total of 33 metres. The effect was light sparkly dots over the picture. At 35 metres, the dots were very obvious and would make the picture unwatchable.

This is a screen shot of a test pattern showing the sparkly dots.

The dots look like stars on a black sky. Ignore the moire effect, which is a consequence of trying to photograph an LCD screen with a digital camera.

When we played out the same scenes at the HD standard of 1080i/60, the sparklies vanished. This is because the data rate on the cable is lower, compared to 1080p/60. However, at just over 35m, the authorisation handshaking failed, so this sets a limit anyway.

The useable length will depend a little on the cable and on the devices at each end. However, this test is a guide to the order of length that a generic brand HDMI cable can be used over even at the most demanding data rate of 1080p/60. Even the cheapest cable can be expected to work perfectly at 10 metres and even at over 20 metres.


Axino-tech September 2009


From: mattherat
4 March 2010

Comment

do some more tests. you could never be further from the truth. email: wholehouse@xtra.co.nz