In our case, the children got together to purchase a Blu-Ray player for my husband for Christmas. We already have an HDTV. In fact, I purchased a Phillips HDTV for my husband as we moved into our new home about 5 1/2 years ago. It is a 42” Plasma and while not the very top of the line, it had most of the latest bells and whistles when we bought it. It has served us well--and now most of our children have HDTV’s.
When we bought our first HDTV in September of 2004, HDMI was just being introduced. In fact, world wide, only 5 million HDMI devices were sold that year. Since I tend to stay on top of most tech topics, I was aware that HDMI was coming, but the time to buy the TV was then, not six months to a year later.
Five years have passed. HDMI is almost everywhere. However, take a look at HDTVs being offered and you will discover that some of the inexpensive sets still don’t have even one HDMI outlet. Many have a single HDMI.
Blu-Ray players can be connected to HDTVs using component cables, but to see the full picture quality, you will need to use HDMI.
Over the past five years, we have purchased two other HDTVs, one for my office that can also be used as a second monitor for my MacBook Pro, and a 37” HDTV for our bedroom. Since movie-watching tends to be a family activity, hooking the Blu-Ray player to our bedroom TV just wasn’t going to work!
We headed out to Costco, BestBuy and an independent TV dealer to find the best deal. We bought a Sony Bravia 52” LCD TV. It is not the bottom of the line, and it is not the top of the line--but it has 4 HDMI connectors, and that was my minimum specification.
So why 4 HDMI? We can connect our Cox cable box via HDMI, we have an Apple TV, we just got the Blu-Ray player That leaves us with one spare HDMI connector and I planned to add an HDMI to DVI cable to make it easier to connect our computers to the TV.
We owned two HDMI cables before Christmas. I had purchased them when I bought the Apple TV. I ordered the Apple TV the day it was announced and in the Apple press release, it mentioned that the Apple Store would be carrying HDMI cables for $19.00 to $29.00. These would be a major savings over the cables being offered in other retail outlets.
On our trips to buy the new TV, I began shopping for the cables that we would need.
While Costco offered an $89.00 Deluxe cable kit, it included only two HDMI cables along with several other cables. They also offer HDMI cables in several different lengths ranging in price from $25.00 to $40.00, but they must be ordered online.
BestBuy provided their usual shopping experience. There was a range of cables offered at a wide range of prices. The salesperson quickly led us to the Rocketfish area and suggested that these were the minimum in acceptable cables. Prices ranged from $69.00 to $99.00 and she quickly pointed out that real videophiles always bought Monster cables which ranged in price from $69.00 to $199.00. She gave us info about the Rocketfish and Monster cables being THX certified, but there was very little information on the packages to really tell us the difference between the $19.00 cables and the $199.00 ones.
Remembering my earlier purchase of cables from the Apple Store, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and used Safari to check their prices. They had Belkin HDMI cables in two lengths, and the prices were $19.00 and $29.00. There was further information that these cables met the latest HDMI 1.3 standards and the reviews were outstanding. Since I wanted to buy four cables, we decided to go home with the TV and no cables to do a bit of research.
When it comes to quick research, I turn to Wikipedia. The articles are well-written in most cases and the readers make sure that the info is accurate and well-presented.
I looked up THX, and quickly found out that they do not set standards. Instead, they have a quality assurance system, and it has more to do with venues than cables for home TVs. I then looked up HDMI and found lots of good information, including what to expect from a HDMI 1.3 cable.
Checking the information, I concluded that the $19.00 cable from the Apple Store was more than adequate to meet my needs. I was able to buy the four cables I needed for the price of about one at BestBuy or the TV store.
The TV has been mounted on the wall now. The picture quality is exceptional and using HDMI instead of Component cables has made reading the menus on the Apple TV iTunes store so much easier!
As for the Blu-Ray player, I would rather buy or rent my movies over the Apple TV. I think the picture quality is as good or better. I love the new HDTV! As for the old HDTV, it is now in the basement, near my sewing area and the grandkids love having the Wii hooked up to a big TV.