High-definition really increases the picture quality of your devices, but the cost of adding high-definition to your gadgets doesn't end with the HDTV. When you're converting to HD, consider the HDMI cables that you'll need. If you're running a system with a home theater setup and a Blu-Ray player, PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, you'll want HDMI cables to get the most out of them. Yes, it really does make a difference.
If your set has fewer HDMI ports than you have devices, you'll need to prioritize or invest in an HDMI Switcher. Hooking all these gadgets up could easily run $250-500; money which is better spent elsewhere.
Television isn't broadcast in 1080p, and HDMI cables won't do a thing for overly compressed signal coming down your cable line to your converter. As a general rule, there's no point in connecting cable or satellite with HDMI for picture quality, but there may be an advantage for sound. To manage HDMI ports on your TV, you've got a few options:
Connect the devices that will benefit most. A Blu-ray player and a PS3 should be the first to get HDMI ports. If you can live without a standalone Blu-ray player, simply having a PS3 reduces your HDMI needs. Next up is a digital converter box for broadcast TV, which you won't need if your TV has a digital ATSC tuner. The Xbox 360 and the cable or satellite box are at the bottom of the list; these benefit the least from HDMI.
Get a home theater receiver. If you've got a TV with two HDMI inputs, a high-end home-theater receiver with extra ports will allow you to connect more devices. You'll get the added benefit of audio streaming straight to your receiver, but be sure that there's an HDMI out to get video signal to your TV.
Swap devices out. You can't play Xbox and PlayStation at the same time, can you? A single HDMI cable can be switched back and forth between the two consoles, just be careful not to tug on it or bend it too hard when you make the switch.
Does brand really matter?
While every big-box retailer recommends expensive Monster cables or brand-specific cables for certain devices, brand doesn't matter over short distances. Period. HDMI carries a digital signal that's not subject to radio interference or electronic distortion in the way that analog signals are. As long as the wire is in one piece, the same digits will come out of the cable that go into it.
If you're running HDMI cable more than 10 feet, the higher-priced cables are a necessary investment. HDMI signals start to fade when they travel through more than nine feet of cable and need specialized wires that conserve the signal. In most home setups, the screen will be less than six feet from the source, and any type of HDMI cable will do. Find the one that's least expensive and spend the savings on Blu-ray discs or games. Owners of front projectors and those using television in commercial settings will want to look for cables rated for longer distances.
Check the Web
The Web is a great source for all things inexpensive, and HDMI cables are included in this mix. Several providers on Amazon.com offer 6-foot HDMI cables for under $2, with dozens more at different lengths under $20. These cables are a tiny fraction of the cost of the HDMI cables you'll find at your local big-box retailer, so if you can afford to wait a few days for shipping, order them online for a great deal.
Look for a package deal
To promote sales, many retailers offer package deals with television mounts and cables sold together for a fraction of their cost. If you need the whole package, this might be an affordable way to get both a mount and an inexpensive brand-name HDMI cable. Additionally, some retailers offer a free Cable HDMI with the purchase of a television and mount, or with the purchase of a warranty plan. Keep all of these options in mind if you need these products and want to get a cheap or free brand-name HDMI cable.