Digital AV cables rip-off

Do you really need all the cables the installer is suggesting?
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01.Digital AV cables scam

Please note: this information was current as of February 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

In brief

  • Cables forming a ?You don’t need to buy an expensive HDMI or digital audio (Toslink) cable to get great video and sound.
  • Most high definition (HD) content is below 1080p quality.

A gigantic flat panel TV has just arrived in your lounge room, waiting to be connected to a home theatre system. Unfortunately, one of the experts providing "free" installation looks down aghast at your analog cables, and claims you need something that will give you uncompressed 1080p/12Hz HD video with 12-bit Deep Colour and eight channels of 192/24 digital audio for the ultimate 7.1 surround sound.

Or, in plain English, a standard HDMI cable that should cost no more than $50.

Of course, the installer only has a $300 HDMI cable available but insists it will be an investment in quality. Should you take him at his word before reaching for your wallet? Don’t think this scenario is created merely to illustrate a point – it really happened to one of our CHOICE staff.

An HDMI cable of the same length and specification sells for anything from about $30 to more than $300, depending on the make and model, so CHOICE put a selection of HDMI and digital audio cables to the test to find out what, if any, differences could be found.

Brands tested

HDMI cables

  • Belkin PureAV
  • Monster 700HD
  • Concord
  • Phillips
  • Concord
  • Panasonic
  • Monster 1000HD
  • Monster 500HD
  • Sony
  • Audioquest

Toslink Digital audio cables

  • Belkin PureAV
  • Foxtel
  • DSE (Titanium series)
  • Audioquest
  • Neotech
  • Monster (Interlink)


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