On Saturday I finally stepped out of the television stone age and into the age of high definition. While I rather like tech and gadgets, I have learned to wait a bit when it comes to the latest and greatest. After all, technology is marked by price settling. Briefly put, when a new technology emerges, it will generally be absurdly expensive. For example, personal computers used to cost a small fortune, but now they are quite cheap. When HDTVs first appeared, they were extremely pricey-so much so that I could not justify ditching my 36 inch CRT TV (which I got more or less by accident).
But, the prices seem to have dropped to that settled point-that is, the point at which they will probably not go much lower for quite some time. While I could be wrong, I suspect that decent 42 inch LCD TVs will stick at about $800 for quite some time-so I bought one.
Naturally, to use the HDTV properly, you need HD input. I happened to have an XBox 360 and an old laptop that both have HDMI outputs. However, since the Xbox had been plugged into the old TV, I did not have an HDMI cable on hand.
Wanting to use my Xbox right away, I went to the cable section of Best Buy and stopped in shock at their prices. The cheapest HDMI cable was $30 and the others were in the $70 and up range. I overhead the salesperson selling some of the cables-going on about how important it was to buy the super-expensive gold plated cables. While I am not an expert on HDMI cables, I do know a bit about computer cables. My experience with them has been that you want to avoid the super cheap (in terms of quality) cables, but that the super-premium cables really do nothing more than the moderately priced decent cables.
But, since I was driven by the desire to get right to the XBox 360 in HD, I parted with the $30 for the cable. However, a little research revealed what I expected: the super high end premium cables do not really do anything special-except make the companies some decent profits. While you will want to make sure that your HDMI cable is not some crappy cable and that it is the right sort for your hardware, a relative inexpensive cable will work fine. For example, I got another HDMI cable from Amazon for a few bucks and it works just as good as the $30 one I bought at Best Buy. And that $30 one works as well as the $80-100 cables. So, save your money and avoid the super-premium cables: you will almost certainly not get what you think you are paying for.