Saturday, August 6, 2011

False economy

No, not about cheap flyspray or weedkiller but about the MSM's obsession with spurious data and trying to make themselves look like consumer champions.
Cutting through the sales patter when buying a TV is difficult at the best of times.
But now it seems that the cables can trip us up, too.
High Street chains have been accused of ripping off customers by encouraging them to spend up to £100 on high-definition leads which are no more effective than ones costing as little as £2.
However, when a technology magazine showed experts footage using a £100 cable from electronics company Monster and an unbranded version costing about £2, they found the picture quality to be identical.
Ruslan Kogan, the boss of cable manufacturer Kogan Technologies, claims retailers are carrying out a marketing scam.
The only scam going on here is the sales patter to get people to buy an expensive lead, sure £100 pound is far too much to spend on an HDMI cable, but rest assured, £2 is far too little unless it meets certain requirements.
Yes a £2 cable will work perfectly at first, that's because when you get it, it wont have any oxidisation on the terminals. Now oxidisation is bad news on any signal carrying cable as oxidised matter (rust) does not transmit an electrical signal very well and when it goes on for too long it will have an effect. You also have an anode/cathode effect between dissimilar materials too which will accelerate corrosion, essentially a cheap cable made from cheap materials will deteriorate quite badly possibly within a year and may not just damage itself but the connection to your device.
Oddly enough there's one material which does not corrode or oxidise and which is a very good conductor of electrical current and frequencies and that material is gold. Gold is not cheap, gold plated connectors are however still pretty cheap and you can find them online for about £1.70. However the savings you make there will be offset by the quality of the product as the plating itself will be so thin (0.7 micron) as to have a chance of wearing away, gold is expensive, but it's also soft too.
Essentially you should when connecting an HDMI cable from the dvd player/sky/virgin connection box use a quality cable. No, don't spend over £100 on one, you'd be daft if you do. But on the otherhand don't spend any more than £15 which will give you a better level of plating (1.5 micron) and a better level of shielding from other interference.
But it's up to you in the end what you do, unlike the government I'm not about to force a minimum standard on you, but one of life's basic rules when playing in a market is that you get exactly what you pay for.
Same with cheap sausages.

5 annotations:

Barman said...

This 'scam' has been going on since the invention of Hi-Fi...

I remember years ago a 'salesman' in a store in the 'States trying to convince me that a filtered mains lead costing $$$$$s gave better sound reproduction than one costing $0.25 when connected to the same system. It didn't.

The bottom line is surely that if you are stupid/wealthy* enough to buy a £100 cable instead of a £10 that would do the same job then that is your fault/right*...?

Isn't it buyer beware or some such?

* delete as applicable

English Pensioner said...

Whilst what you say is technically correct, I've never noticed any problems with cheap cables, which I've usually been purchased over the internet. The big worry is the number of insertions, but with HDMI cables connecting normally fixed items, this shouldn't be a problem.
Admitted my recent experience is with USB cables rather than HDMI, but these probably get far more usage in terms of connection/disconnection, and so far the only one that failed was on my USB mouse used with the laptop which cost less than a fiver in the first place. The replacement Bluetooth mouse cost a bit more £6.99 from 7 day shop and its magic with the laptop!

Anonymous said...

I know nothing about HDMI cables, but the SCART connector has to be the most useless piece of crap ever, it refuses to engage, then when forced it'll bend the flimsy little pins out of shape, and when you try to disconnect the housing comes off and you are left pulling the soldered cables away from the lugs.

What a fucking piss-poor design.

Barman said...

SCART is a French design... no more comment is necessary....

Chalcedon said...

That is oxidation BTW. However, you are perfectly corect about cheap cables. However, an HD cable either works or it doesn't. There are no 90% as good as.