Apparently This Matters: $1,300 HDMI cables

Jarrett Bellini writes a humor column on trending topics online for CNN Tech.

Story highlights

  • AudioQuest sells Diamond brand HDMI cables for $1,300
  • Jarrett Bellini: "I fully support it. I mean, somebody must be buying them"
  • Some cables are available for as little as $3 online

It was Wednesday morning when I noticed a popular post on reddit that shared an unbelievable photo of a $1,300 HDMI cable. Yes. One HDMI cable. Thirteen hundred dollars. Naturally, I ordered three on my corporate AmEX and expensed them as "miscellaneous."

(Also recently expensed as miscellaneous: NFL Sunday Ticket, Pop Tarts and a pony keg of Schlitz. I think HR is on the ninth floor. I'll just head up there now.)

At first, I thought it had to be a simple labeling mistake at whatever store the picture was taken. But it was real. A company called AudioQuest sells Diamond brand HDMI cables that cost more than my actual TV. And I fully support it. I mean, somebody must be buying them.

Granted, I'm not sure how Diamond HDMI cables satisfy a rich man's narcissism, but surely these work better than, say, driving around in my Saturn.

Or as all the sexy ladies in Atlanta call it ... my Saturn.

No, these HDMI cables are not cheap.

I first entered the dirty world of HDMI cables a couple years ago when I finally purchased a new TV. Although, to be slightly more accurate, I finally purchased Netflix streaming, and then I had to buy a new TV.

First month of Netflix streaming: $1,200.

You see, since 2006, I had been enjoying an old, 65-inch Toshiba that a friend gave me. It was old in that he was more than happy to give it away. And it was large in that it was an actual hippopotamus that somehow aired Seinfeld reruns.

Fast forward to November 2010 when, suddenly, my life wasn't complete without Netflix streaming. But there was one little problem: My hippopotamus didn't have the correct hardware in the back to properly connect my laptop. Clearly this meant it was time for a new TV. I can be rather impulsive.

(I wonder how my Facebook stock is doing.)

Next thing I know there's a 55-inch LED LCD in my shopping cart and a kid with pimples trying to tell me why I absolutely, positively needed $40 Monster-brand HDMI cables. I admit, his case was compelling. Apparently, if I didn't get the good cables, my new TV would grow up to be a serial killer.

So I bought the stupid cables and boasted about my big purchase to a colleague at work the next day.

"Dude, this TV is great -- Netflix is actually built in! And I got these amazing HDMI cables that really bring out the high-def. They only cost like 40 bucks each."

To which he replied, "Shouldn't you be wearing pants?"

He later advised me to buy cheap, $3 cables online, and so far the HD still seems to be coming in perfectly. I can pick out individual hairs in Wolf Blitzer's beard.

Which brings us back to Diamond cables. The company's website says:

"Diamond HDMI incorporates AudioQuest's highest-performance, lowest-distortion Perfect-Surface Silver conductors. Silver is known for its high conductivity and its 'colorless' sonic presentation."

I have no idea what this means, but it seems to suggest that, if I were to buy the Diamond cable, Wolf's beard actually would jump out of the TV and make me an omelet.

I could be wrong. I don't generally get things. And reading through any HDMI discussion online will only further the confusion. Some people say quality cables matter. Some people say they don't. In the end, it's all ones and zeroes to me.

If you look for an expert opinion from Consumer Reports, however, you'll find they say "we've long been advocates of not paying for pricey cables, which often do little more than pad the pockets of the manufacturers that make them and the retailers that sell them."

The only reasons to buy anything but low-end cables, they say, is if you plan to unplug and replug the cables all the time or if the cable is longer than 30 feet. Otherwise, "any high-speed cable should suffice," the group says, "and don't let a package or retail associate tell you otherwise."

Still, you've got to hand it to them. AudioQuest cares about performance, and they seem to specialize in super-high-end everything. I actually found a $6,900 AC power cable on Amazon. AudioQuest calls it the NRG WEL Signature Series.

I call it "miscellaneous."

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