HDMI Cables

HDMI has been around since late 2002, but until about 2006 it was a total non issue for most folk and I’d consider it still in the fairly early adopter stage. Easy for me to say, I’ve got an HDMI video chain now.

If you are considering a new TV / Display then HDMI should factor in to your decision, but don’t buy into any of the sales pitch on deep colour etc. The real benefit to HDMI is that it is a digital connection between your source (DVD Player) and the display (TV). The content it carries is the same (for the most part), but keeping it in the digital domain is a real benefit.

Most of the cable makers are taking people to the cleaners. FutureShop’s cheapest HDMI cable is $49.99. If you want to stick to a big brand name, the Monster cables start at $83.99 up to $156.99 for a 1M cable. What is shocking here, is that almost all of the cables come from the same small set of factories in China – you really are paying extra for the name brand.

From my research and reading, assuming a reasonable level of quality in the cable construction, up to 5M you don’t need to worry about the bandwidth capabilities of the cable. Even the cheap cables will handle 1080p and beyond. Additionally, as most consumer equipment is only just starting to pass 1080p there is no reason to support more than that – with the one exception of cables that are run in the walls. For a 1M cable, you don’t need to spend a lot, and you can buy in wall rated cables relatively cheaply as I did.

My choice was to go with Blue Jeans Cable, specifically I bought their Tartan line of cables. Let’s take a look at what came in the mail:

100_4360.JPG

So for my setup, I needed two 15foot cables. One HDMI/HDMI for my new Oppo 980 DVD player, so I got the slightly more expensive 24AWG cable for $15.75. The second cable is for my Starchoice DSR 505 for which I needed DVI/HDMI, since the best I can get out of this box is 720p/1080i I chose the less expensive 28AWG for $6.00. Yup, six dollars, and it will very likely support 1080p over that distance.

Here you can see them plugged into my projector:

100_4397.JPG

The 24AWG cable jacket is bigger than the power cord. I strongly suspect that the FutureShop cables are 28AWG at best, very likely a smaller gauge. Oh yeah, and shipping was $5.75 – so I still came out way ahead.

The cables work great, no issues at all. In summary, yes HDMI is a good option to have but don’t pay an arm and a leg for the cables.

The Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD “War”

This isn’t a A/B comparison – I don’t currently have the ability to play either format.  I’ve been stalling for a few reasons, but its been getting a lot more tempting to leap in on one, or the other, or both formats.

This posting was prompted by the Engadget post Gartner: Blu-ray to win in 2008, HD DVD price cuts are “useless resistance”.  My friend Matt claimed last week that the war was won:

“Some might say that Warner Bros. pre-CES annoucement of dropping HD-DVD was the tipping point, but true believers will recognize that Matt’s January 24th purchase of a PS3 and several Blu-Ray titles as the historic event.” – Matt

There are some crazy prices on HD-DVD players now, Futureshop has the Toshiba HD-DVD A3 for $148.99.  I’m almost kicking myself for picking up the Oppo 980 (should be at the post office waiting for me) – but the A3, while it is apparently a very good upconverting player – still is fairly slow at layer changes etc.   If it didn’t look like the format war was winding down, the HD-DVD support would be a lot more tempting – but as it is, it would be a severely underused facility of the player.

It is my opinion that Sony has pretty much bet the company on Blu-ray.  2007 didn’t seem like a great year for Sony, and I do strongly suspect that things like the Warner CES announcement came along with some cash from Sony.  Hopefully their well won’t run dry before the format debate is over.

I guess I’m still firmly in the ‘wait and see’ camp, let’s see how long I can stall – my prediction is that I’ll have one or both before the end of this year.