What HDMI cable should I buy?
Let's cut to the chase:
CNET strongly recommends cheap HDMI cables widely available from online retailers instead of the expensive counterparts sold in your local electronics store.
Expensive cables aren't worth it
If you walk into your typical electronics store to buy an HDMI cable, you're likely to see prices upward of $50 with promises of better performance and faster speeds. Do you really need to spend that much money on a single HDMI cable?
Absolutely not--those cables are a rip-off. You should never pay more than $10 for a standard six-foot HDMI cable. And despite what salesmen and manufacturers might tell you, there's no meaningful difference between the $10 cable and the $50 cable. Unless you see something obvious, such as dropouts or a flashing screen, the digital information transmitted by both cables is exactly the same--no cable can make the picture any better or any worse. We've used cables from many different companies in the past--such as Belkin, Accell, Monoprice, Monster, and SimplayHD--and have not run into any consistent issues with any brand of cable. With working cables and solid connections, we've seen no dropouts and "sparklies"--just consistent, dependable, high-quality audio and video. It's that simple.
The editors at CNET are so confident that cheap HDMI cables offer identical performance, we've been using inexpensive Monoprice HDMI cables in the CNET Home Theater Lab for more than a year with no issues. That's saying a lot, especially when you consider that our video experts are constantly swapping in new products and changing configurations, which means our cables take much more abuse than they would in a normal home theater. We're also accustomed to making long cable runs, and many of our cables from Monoprice are 15 feet long. We also use even longer 20-foot cables from a generic maker with no appreciable loss in video quality. If cheap HDMI cables are good enough for the eagle-eyed video professionals at CNET, we're betting they're good enough for your home theater.
And don't get hung about other cables that offer a lifetime guarantee, protecting you in case your cables are technologically obsolete in the future. If in a few years there are consumer video products that output higher-than-1080p video signals (an admittedly unlikely scenario), you can always buy another cheap $10 cable online that can handle more data. And you've still saved yourself $30 over that $50 cable in the store.
Cheap HDMI cables sound great! Where can I get them?
The best way to score a cheap HDMI cable is to order over the Internet. Here are a few of our favorite resellers, all of which offer solid return policies in case you do get a bum cable.
Monoprice.com sells all other kinds of quality AV cables at very reasonable prices. As we mentioned before, we use Monoprice cables in CNET Labs, and several CNET editors use Monoprice in their personal home theaters as well.
Amazon is especially convenient if you're already buying electronics from them and just want to "add to cart" an HDMI cable. We've done hands-on testing with a $2.10 HDMI cable from DVI Gear and haven't had any issues. Return policies vary by reseller, however, so do your research first.
Newegg.com, another online retailer with whom CNET editors have had good experiences, has several HDMI cables for less than $10.
CNET itself lists numerous inexpensive cables as search results for the term