If you’re planning to buy a upconverting DVD player, PlayStation 3 or high def tuner for your HDTV this holiday, expect the salesman to say you’ll need an HDMI cable to make the connection. The upconverting DVD player will cost as little as $70, but the six to eight foot HDMI cable he’ll be pushing will cost around $100 to $120. Why is the cable so expensive? So the retailer can make a greater profit on the sale. The fact is, you can purchase an HDMI cable for less than one tenth the price and get the same great picture. Here’s what you need to know.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is generally the best connection between a source component and a high definition display. The cable carries digital audio and video with a copy protection. These wires are available in lengths from one and a half feet to over fifty feet. What the store salesmen will not tell you: no matter how much or how little you pay for a cable, you can only see one of two types of pictures: Perfect or Bad.

Perfect means no artifacts such as sparkles. Bad means artifacts or no image. Electronics store salesmen will tout you on gold plated connectors, thicker shielding, heavy-duty construction, name brands and so on, but it really wouldn’t make an iota of difference in picture or sound quality. It’s that simple. The signal running through an HDMI is digital, just a series of ones and zeros. No matter what anyone tells you, getting all the ones and zeros from one end of the cable to the other is all an HDMI cable is supposed to do. No matter how expensive and fancy the HDMI cable, the image can’t improve! The cable can only be good or bad.

So how much should you pay for an HDMI cable? As little as you can. A quick search of online retailers, found the lowest price at monoprice.com where a 6 foot HDMI cables start at $9.29 including shipping and handling, in single lot quantities. (This is informational only we have not sampled their cables). Wal-mart sells a 6ft. Philips HDMI cable in-store for $26.85. Monoprice and other retailers also sell heavier duty cables with thicker gauge wires, though as stated above, an HDMI cable either works perfectly or doesn’t. Paying more will not provide any improvement, if your present HDMI cable functions properly. Save your money for more important things, like HD movie discs and video games.