CEDIA 2007 - Day 1: Us vs. Monster Cable, Sony's New Projectors and Toshiba on HD-DVDby Anand Lal Shimpi & Manveer Wasson on September 5, 2007 11:45 PM EST
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Monster insisted that its branding was to help the consumers decide which cable was right for them, despite one audience member warning that having so many "standards" may do more to confuse the consumer than educate him/her. We also had issues with the ratings, so we posed two questions to Mr. Lee. The first question was a desire for more technical detail on how the various speed rated cables differed from one another; Mr. Lee seemed to imply that the thickness of the "pipe" is what determined how much bandwidth you could send down a single HDMI cable, we wanted to know more. Unfortunately, our request was not met, Mr. Lee said that there are too many factors to take into account to answer such a question here but listed a number of factors such as how the cables are cut, connector assembly and distinct eye requirements of higher bandwidth HDMI.
Much to our surprise, Mr. Lee did answer our next question. We stated that cable "speed" and the ability to transmit a signal was directly related to cable length, but we wondered how fast the lower speed rated cables would be at shorter distances. Take the lowest end Standard Speed HDMI cable, Mr. Lee mentioned that at 2m it would be capable of transmitting around 12Gbps of data - nearly as much as Monster's high end Ultimate High Speed HDMI cable. Mr. Lee requested that we didn't quote him exactly because he didn't know the specific bandwidth rating at 2m off the top of his head, so don't take the 12Gbps figure to heart - but we would suspect that the actual number is somewhere around there.
The point being that Monster's high end cables are definitely necessary for very long cable runs, but most consumers aren't installing their HD-DVD/Blu-ray players more than 1 - 2 meters away from their TVs, where these ultra expensive cables are not necessary at all. In our opinion, Monster would be doing the consumer a greater service if it simply replaced speed ratings with length ratings: e.g. buy cable X if you need 0 - 10m, cable Y for 11 - 30m, etc...
Noel's counter-argument to our length rating proposition was that customers could buy these expensive HDMI cables today and be future proof for higher bandwidth implementations of HDMI that may come down the road. Our bet is that you'd still be better off buying good, cheap HDMI cables today and replacing them when necessary or that the HDMI connector would end up getting replaced before the time you'd need to upgrade your cables.
We did appreciate Mr. Lee's honesty in stating the futility of using even Monster's own high end HDMI cables for short runs, we just want to see less confusing marketing to consumers who will inevitably be pushed towards Monster or other expensive cables.
In order to compete with no-name cable manufacturers, Monster will also begin selling a HDMI cable in a box which is unrated, not "certified" but competitive with other cheaper cable available on the market.
Monster also introduced its Cable for Life Performance Guaranteed program; if your 1000-series (Ultimate High Speed) cable becomes obsolete because of a change in spec, Monster will replace it free of charge. Again, depending on the length of cable you're buying, you'd probably be better off simply buying cheaper cables when you need them rather than attempting to future proof your cables. It's sort of like an extreme case of the argument for purchasing SLI ready motherboards/video cards.