HDMI CONnection Scam

The vast majority of retailers and salesmen lie to your face and steal your hard earned cash when they sell you HDMI cables. If you paid more than $10 or so for your cables, you’ve been had, another victim of the CONNection scam. Does this shock you?

Rarely do I get all fired up about something, but when I see unwary consumers being outright lied to and robbed for no other reason than pure greed, it makes me sick; I am going to rip this one wide open so stand back, because this isn’t going to be pretty.

FACT: ALL HDMI CABLES PERFORM THE SAME regardless of what price or materials they are made from. A $10 HDMI cable is going to give you the same performance as a $200 cable. IF a salesman tries to sell you a more expensive cable telling you it will give you a better picture quality, they are lying to your face, or have no idea what they are talking about, and they are incompetent. Either way, this is inexcusable. This is what I call the CONnection Scam.

Picture quality implies that the HDMI cable used would result in better color, contrast, clarity, etc. That is saying that the source and display is different with a digital signal. Pixels can’t change. This is flat out wrong. A technical impossibility.

Scenario: Joe Consumer is excited, he got his paycheck and finally has enough to get himself that flatscreen TV he’s had his eye on for months now. The salesman starts telling him he needs special cable called an HDMI cable to connect his Blu Ray, PS3, etc (this is true), now here comes the CONnection SCAM.

The salesman tries to sell Joe Consumer a 4 foot long $200 HDMI cable, confident that Joe Consumer has no idea that a $10 HDMI cable will do the exact same thing. All the salesman wants to do here is meet his sales quota and meet bonus as the expense of the customer.

That’s right, let me restate a fact in big bold print to make sure this is clear: ALL HDMI CABLES PERFORM THE SAME.

Let’s see why: It’s all about the signal, which is what is transmitted over the cable in the first place. HDMI uses Transition Minimized Differential Signaling, or TMDS. An HDMI or DVI video signal is a small signal and it is digital. It is either good or not good. As long as the length is under 8 feet, there is NO signal degredation. With an HDMI signal, you either get a perfect image, or nothing at all.

Another CONnection Scam

You will see HDMI packages in the store, screaming “120 Hz,” “240Hz” and “480 Hz”.

FACT: HDMI cables can 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. The same HDTV signal flows through all HDMI cables, whether labeled “120Hz” or “480Hz” — or not labeled at all.

A TV’s refresh rate has nothing whatsoever to do with the signal flowing to that set. The refresh rate is determined by the set’s circuitry once the signal gets there, so how can different HDMI cables be manufactured for different refresh-rate sets? A total lie. The CONnection scam.

HDMI Licensing LLC licenses the design, specifications and requires labeling of cables as either “Standard” or “High Speed.” Only two types of HDMI cables are included in the HDMI licensing spec: “Standard” (aka category 1) or “High Speed” (aka category 2). Category 2 is required to insure the cable passes 1080P HD signals, (which includes 3-D), and is the highest bandwidth video signal available now and the forseeable future. (As of this writing, the latest version is HDMI v1.4, however, according to HDMI.org, As of January, 2012, HDMI will no longer list version numbers.)

HDMI cable makers are intentionally misleading consumers by hyping their cables with the various refresh rates used by set makers to improve picture quality. Despite the fact that some labels indicate signals of 480Hz, the signal fed by an HDMI cable to a set never exceeds 60Hz. Conversion to 120 or 240 Hz is done internally. There is no such thing as a 120 Hz or 240 Hz signal. It doesn’t exist. If you are told an expensive cable is the only way your 240Hz set will work, demand to speak with the store manager.

Any “High Speed” HDMI v1.3 cable should handle any display and any video signal you can throw at it. Period. Full Stop. The next version is 1.4 which is intended for “4K” video, which only exists in extreme high end commercial applications.

As an extreme example of the CONnection scam, AudioQuest has a line of “High Speed” HDMI cables; its packaging states that it “delivers 100 percent of the data required for 120Hz, 240Hz, 600Hz displays.” It costs up to a whopping $299.99 for its 9-8-foot Carbon model (sold online from Bestbuy.com).

What this means to you is that there really is no such thing as a “better” HDMI cable. Either an HDMI cable works or it does not. If it doesn’t work, you will immediately know it. Your screen will freeze, or it will skip frames, or it will show big square blocks instead of a picture. It will be completely obvious that there is a problem. In that case you need to throw the cable away.

How much have YOU thrown out on HDMI cables? With the prevalence of HDMI cables on TVs, Playstation and xbox consoles, and more, this is affecting a lot of people. Share this with your friends, post on your Twitter and Facebook pages, and get the word out.

I am here to protect YOU, my readers, and I challenge any salesperson to prove me wrong. They either want to make bonus, or are incompetent and give the wrong information. Companies that label their cables for a certain frequency or claim to be better are outright scamming you. There is no getting away with it, 1+1 will always equal 2.

What do you think?

I would love your thoughts and comments. You can Email me directly at drtechblog@gmail.com and I will reply to as many of your messages as possible, maybe using some questions and answers in a future post.

You can also catch me on Twitter @DrTechCo or on Facebook.com/DoktorTech

J. D. Redmond  ~ “Dr. Tech” ~ http://www.DrTech.co

Jacques Redmond

About Jacques Redmond

I'm an I.T. Security Professional, Technology Analyst, Consultant, & Tech Writer Protecting You From Viruses, Malware, Trojans, Hackers, and other Cyber Threats. I enjoy taking complicated subjects, and putting them in a way that's easy for everyone to understand. My site INFORMATIONWARFARE.US gives free advice to combat threats to your system.