Tests by consumer advocate Choice have proven what everyone always suspected: spending hundreds of dollars on high-end home theatre cables is a waste of money.
Panel tests by the non-profit company found that, although retailers try to push customers into buying high-margin cables for their digital TVs and DVD players costing upwards of $300, no-frills options costing $40-$60 are just as good.
It comes after this website reported that Australians were being duped into spending hundreds of dollars on so-called "high-performance" HDMI cables when buying new home entertainment equipment.
The report was backed up by Choice's tests, which found that there was no statistically significant difference in picture and sound quality between high-end HDMI cables and their much cheaper rivals.
Some stores and installers of HDMI cables only stock or recommend the much more expensive products, peddling them using now-discredited claims that they somehow perform better.
The longer the cables, the bigger the price difference between the cheaper and more expensive versions. For the segment of cables up to 10 metres, people can pay up to six times more for some brands even though there was no appreciable difference, Choice found.
"Those with vested interests have been over-hyping the benefits of shelling out top dollar for HDMI cables with nothing but bluff to back up their case," Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said.
"Our testing shows clearly that for once you don't always get what you pay for and there are perfectly acceptable cables available at reasonable prices. The problem is that stores are not always making consumers aware of all the options."
Harvey Norman's marketing manager for electrical, Hayden Myers, refused to make a formal comment, saying he had not yet seen Choice's tests and did not know what brands it tested.
However, he said data provided to Harvey Norman showed that there were picture quality differences between the cheaper and more expensive cables.
Choice's report, available for free on its website, tested HDMI cables from Belkin, Monster, Concord, Phillips, Panasonic, Sony and Audioquest, as well as Toslink digital audio cables from Belkin, Monster, Foxtel, DSE, Audioquest and Neotech.
"Although the results were slightly in favour of the more expensive brand for longer lengths, the differences were not enough to conclude any brand delivers a significantly better result," the report said.
"Results for the digital audio cable were even more conclusive, with no advantage to be gained through the use of more expensive cables for better performance."
- Sydney Morning Herald