Last week, Monster Cable announced plans to expand the distribution of their lower-priced HDMI cables. Monster is known for its high quality cables available at many consumer electronic retailers, which sell for breath-taking prices. The next step down in price usually takes the buyer to a different brand. Monster intends to capture more of those sales by offering a lower priced cable, the MC 500 HD. This model retails for about $50 for a one meter cable, compared with $100 for a one meter MC 700 HD cable.
This is an interesting strategy by a company that appears to have depended on making their cables out of “unobtanium“. The retailers love Monster products, because there’s plenty of profit margin, and getting someone to spend an extra $100 on a cable isn’t that hard when they’re dropping $3,000 or more on a large HDTV and other accessories. The cable costs less than the sales tax, after all. But I can understand why some buyer who spend less than $1,000 for an HDTV might want a lower cost alternative. The trick will be whether or not the salespeople will still be able to talk enough of their customers up to the higher priced model, or will the lower cost alternative siphon off too many of the sales.
In my opinion, the quality of the cable is more likely to have a noticeable impact when using an analog connection — such as component video — than over the digital HDMI connection. The digital nature of the interface makes it a pass/fail situation, so there’s really no reason to pay any more for a cable than you need to spend. My recommendation is to get the cheapest HDMI cable you can find; if you check the Internet, you’ll probably find choices from reputable sources for less than $20. If the cheap cable works, then you’re done. If it doesn’t work, then it’s possible that a better quality cable might do the job, but you won’t have lost much money in trying the cheap one first.