That's the big questions. Do HDMI cables matter? If you were to pose this question in an AV forum, the answer you’d likely get from a lot of folks would probably be a resounding "no." And you couldn't blame them for thinking so. After all, a quick online search for high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cable reviews shows that cheap, no-name HDMI cables seem to perform just as well as more expensive, branded cables. The logic assumes that since HDMI is a digital signal, the cable just pushes the bits through, and, unlike analog cables, the cable itself can’t really make the video look any better. While there is a kernal of truth in this, it's not really that simple.
Discuss "Do HDMI Cables Matter?" here. Read the article.
A good article.
It's important to stress that almost all HDMI cables that are short in length (around 15 feet or shorter) will almost certainly be able to handle 8-bit 1080p content, which is the highest signal quality in common use today. In other words, if all you're doing is connecting your DVD player to your TV, you're almost certainly fine with almost any HDMI cable.
This article's warning mostly applies to in-wall installations, or other installations where it would be difficult and/or expensive to replace the existing cable run. Only in that sort of situation are you likely to be using a longer than 15 foot length of HDMI cable and only in that sort of situation would it be likely that you could not easily and inexpensively replace the cable if there ever comes a time when far greater bandwidth is being used by common signals.
Thankfully, even if you are in need of a long length HDMI cable and one that is already fully tested and certified to comply with bandwidth usage far in excess of today's common signals, you do NOT have to pay an expensive price!
Both monoprice.com and bluejeanscable.com offer HDMI 1.3 Category 2 tested and certified cables in both short and long lengths for very reasonable prices.
The obvious and worst offender of spreading misinformation and charging far higher than necessary prices is Monster Cable. Much like Bose, Monster Cable's business and profits depend entirely upon misinforming the mass market and convincing the mass market through advertising that their products are superior to others and worth their extremely high margin prices. Retailers gladly go along with this despicable practice because the margins allow for greater retailer profits as well.
I'm fine with profits. In fact, I applaud Monster Cable and Bose because they are exceptionally good businesses in the sense that they make tremendous profit. What I object to is the amoral and dishonest aspect of achieving these profits through misinformation and lies.
Sadly though, the responsibility lies with consumers to uncover instances where they are being ripped off. It is not Monster Cable's nor Bose's job to conduct business in a fair and honest manner. It is consumers' job to demand fairness and honesty. And the only way to make that demand is through use of the open market. In other words, stop buying over-priced, under-performing products and instead, buy fairly priced, honestly performing products.
Consumer education is the key, which is why Monster Cable and Bose spend so much money on advertising. Advertising is nothing more than "education" for the mass market, but when that advertising is spreading misinformation, "education" becomes "propaganda".
They matter, but in some cases, the cheaper ones have less problems with losing the handshake and causing dropouts.
I have a customer who asked about better audio interconnects to feed his Audio Research power amp and we discussed max price. I found what I could in that range and when I got them, I gave him my opinion of the materials quality and he just said I should use them, even though I offered to return them. I actually apologized for spending his money on them. No-name XLR ends, braided wires with a pearlescent white nylon mesh, $400/2M. What a joke. My 25' Audio-Technica mic cables sounded as good and I don't think I paid more than $20 each.
I'm fine with profits, too but marketing with BS is a real problem for me. Munster Cable annoys me and this same customer had another dealer in town install some equipment previously, using some big, fat-jacketed speaker wires. I would say 'cable' but that's not what it was. I pulled the "pants" off to clean up the ends and what I found was really offensive. 12 AWG stranded with an 18AWG solid wrapped around it "because highs and lows travel at different speeds". Yeah- in 20', the signal on one conductor might arrive a microsecond sooner than the other and that translates to less about 12". Since the wrapped wire is far less than 12" longer, the difference is much less than a microsecond. How audible is that?
I thought I would breathe some life back into this thread... arriving here through Do I Need 120 Hertz HDMI Cables?
As a retired ATC radio communications technician for the Air Force (well qualified to teach soldering techniques and cable making), I am reminded that cheap has two definitions that must not be forgotten. While certainly it means inexpensive, it also means lousy quality.
I gave up on Monster long ago due to lousy quality (and wild claims too). The last straw was a Monster S-Video cable I bought, excited to see some serious video improvement over the current composite connection I was using. The picture was incredibly sharp with great contrast, in B&W only. Not happy. Giving the connections a push to ensure they were tight, the color popped in and out. Upon opening the connector, I found blobs of solder, stray wire strands, birdcaging, and cold solder joints - in one connector! The opposite end was hardly better.
Quality parts + poor soldering techniques - Quality Control = cheap cables.
I did what I should have done in the first place - I ran up to Radio Shack and got their much less expensive but quality-made S-Video cable - I then let Monster know they need slash the overly imaginative marketing department and create an obviously lacking Quality Assurance department.
Well, I did not give up completely, I do have a couple bulk rolls of their speaker cable, but I put my own ends on.
Freedom Isn't Free!
I hear ya! Fortunately, this is already paid for, and since the house is wired, I don't see a urgent need for more any time soon.
Freedom Isn't Free!