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Office Depot: We have a “winner”: $32 for a 6-foot HDMI cable with no speed specified. The cheapest they had online was a $12.95 6ft cable, speed not specified. Office Max, on the other hand, has a $5.95 High Speed 2m cable with Ethernet. Price: $32 (6 feet, unknown speed)

Standard speed cables can handle up to 1080i. High speed can handle definition far beyond 1080p. Here’s the thing: the price difference is negligible, so only buy high-speed cables. Most HDMI cables you’ll find in a store are high-speed cables.

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Amazon: With Amazon Prime you get free two-day shipping. Even if you’re not a Prime member, its selection is good, as are its prices. The Amazon Basics line of cables have a 5/5 customer rating, and you can get two 2-meter high-speed cables with Ethernet for $10. However, if you’re willing to risk some seriously no-name cables, you can get a 2-meter cables for less than $3. Price: $3, and up

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Home Entertainment TVs Culture Amazon Best Buy HDMI Monoprice

High speed with Ethernet High speed without Ethernet Standard speed with Ethernet Standard speed without Ethernet

But don’t bother doing the math — there isn’t a uniform way to covert incandescent watts to LED watts. Instead, a different form of measurement should be used: lumens.

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You can always count on incandescents providing a warm, yellowish hue. But LEDs come in a wide range of colors.

Most dimmers, which were likely designed to work with incandescents, work by cutting off the amount of electricity sent to the bulb. The less electricity drawn, the dimmer the light. But with your newly acquired knowledge of LED lingo, you know that there is no direct correlation between LED brightness and energy drawn.

When switching to LED bulbs, don’t expect to save buckets of cash. Instead, think of it as an investment. Luckily, competition has increased and LED bulbs have come down in price (like this $5 LED from Philips), but you should still expect to pay much more than an incandescent.

Answers to these questions, and more, in the definitive (if I do say so myself) HDMI cable buyers guide:

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Eventually, the LED bulbs will pay off, and in the meantime, you’ll enjoy less heat production, longer bulb life, and even the option of controlling them with your smartphone.

Now Playing: Watch this: The Cree Connected LED wins Editors’ Choice

As shown off by the Philips Hue, LED bulbs are capable of displaying an impressive color range, from purple to red, to a spectrum of whites and yellows. For the home, however, you’re likely looking for something similar to the light that incandescents produce.

When shopping for bulbs, you’re probably accustomed to looking for watts, an indication of how bright the bulb will be. The brightness of LEDs, however, is determined a little differently.

Contrary to common belief, wattage isn’t an indication of brightness, but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescents, there is an accepted correlation between the watts drawn and the brightness, but for LEDs, watts aren’t a great predictor of how bright the bulb will be. (The point, after all, is that they draw less energy.)

Bottom line Buy inexpensive high-speed HDMI cables. Online is cheaper by far and will be available in whatever length you need. Only buy from a physical store if you absolutely have to, and if you do, certain stores do better than others. At the very least, if you’re in a bind, check the Web sites of the various stores in your area. They’ll at least give you an idea which store offers the best in-store price.

Now’s the right time to switch to LEDs. These bulbs have made significant advances over the last few years, finally delivering the warm light incandescents have comforted us with for decades.

Best Buy: The best, ahem, buy, was $20 for a single 6-foot cable. Shame. I didn’t see it in the store, but on its Web site it has a 6-foot cable for $5.49. Through the Best Buy Marketplace (i.e. approved third-party retailers), I found one for $4. In neither case was the speed specified. Price: $20 (6 feet, high speed)

For example, an LED bulb with comparable brightness to a 60W incandescent is only 8 to 12 watts.

If you want to get technical, light color (color temperature) is measured in kelvins. The lower the number, the warmer (yellower) the light. So, your typical incandescent is somewhere between 2,700 and 3,500K. If that’s the color you’re going for, look for this range while shopping for LED bulbs.

Very few products have Ethernet-over-HDMI compatibility, so it’s not likely you need to pay extra for the feature in the cable. If you want to “future proof” your system slightly, then that’s your call. For most people, though, I don’t see the point. Again, the price difference is marginal, so it’s not a big deal either way. If you’re sure your equipment has Ethernet-over-HDMI compatibility, then of course check out those HDMI cables. That likelihood is small, though.

LEDs have an impressive lifespan (20-something years!) and are very cost-effective.

Forever LED Light’s line of bulbs have a lifetime guarantee. Apparently, that’s a first.

For a detailed breakdown of the cost-effectiveness of LED bulbs, check out this useful post.

Walmart: The best price for a single cable was $13 for one, $20 for a pair. Online, they had a 6-foot cable for $4.88 that claimed to be capable of 1080p (though wasn’t called high speed). Amusingly, the Walmart I went to had an 80-inch Sharp showing a standard-definition 4×3 image. Bang-up job, Walmart; bang-up job. Price: $20 for two

First off, cheap cables will produce the exact same picture and sound quality as expensive cables. Check out our HDMI cable trilogy: “Why all HDMI cables are the same,” “Why all HDMI cables are the same, Part 2,” “Still more reasons why all HDMI cables are the same” and “4K HDMI cables are nonsense.” These articles go into extensive detail about how HDMI cables work, and why by their very nature, you’re either getting a perfect image, or no image at all.

If you’d like your LED to be dimmable, you need to do one of two things: find LED bulbs compatible with traditional dimmers, or replace your current dimming switch with a leading-edge (LED-compatible) dimmer.

Knowing where it’s OK to place an LED will ensure that the bulb won’t fizzle ahead of its time.

Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics like why all HDMI cables are the same, LED LCD vs. plasma, active versus passive 3D, and more. Still have a question? Send him an e-mail! He won’t tell you what TV to buy, but he might use your letter in a future article. You can also send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.

Target: The best price was, like Walmart, two for $20. The prices went up from there. On its Web site there was a 6-foot cable for $15, though its speed was unspecified. Price: $20 for two

Only buy HDMI cables at a store as a last resort; say, if you just bought a new TV and forgot to order a cable online. Here are a few stores and their respective prices, to help you in said predicament. (Note: this article was originally published last year, and all prices were correct then. I’ve updated it with some new article links and info, but didn’t check the in-store prices, as they haven’t changed much. Web prices are current).

You probably know that LED bulbs run dramatically cooler than their incandescent cousins, but that doesn’t mean they don’t produce heat. LED bulbs do get hot, but the heat is pulled away by a heat sink in the base of the bulb. From there, the heat dissipates into the air and the LED bulb stays cool, helping to keep its promise of a very long life.

Crutchfield: The king of list price strikes again. Price: $19.99

And therein lies the problem: the bulb needs a way to dissipate the heat. If an LED bulb is placed in an enclosed housing, the heat won’t have anywhere to go, sending it right back to the bulb, and sentencing it to a slow and painful death.

Ye olde brick-and-mortar I checked several national chain stores, and one popular regional chain, to see what kind of prices they had on cables. As you’d expect, their prices were, for the most part, rubbish. While I’ve listed the lowest price I could find, each store had many, many more offerings that were priced ridiculously.

As you can see in the chart above, an incandescent can draw up to five times as many watts for the same number of lumens. Get a sense of the brightness (in lumens) you need before heading to the store, and throw away your affinity for watts.

The short version: Buy high speed without Ethernet and don’t worry about the other types.

Warm white and soft white will produce a yellow hue, close to incandescents, while bulbs labeled as bright white will produce a whiter light, closer to daylight and similar to what you see in retail stores.

NewEgg: I’ve never bought cables from here, but I have bought computer parts. No issues as I recall. Price: $3.50

The popular colors available for LEDs are “warm white” or “soft white,” and “bright white.”

No-name HDMI cables at Fry’s. With minimalist prices come minimalist packaging… Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

On the Web Monoprice: Most of the cables I use — and most of the cables CNET uses — come from Monoprice. They’re exceptionally cheap, they ship quickly, and I’ve never had one fail despite a significant amount of plugging and unplugging. Just about any length is available, and all are about the cheapest you’ll find anywhere. How about a 6-foot high-speed HDMI cable for $3.50? To give you an idea about active cables, a 6-foot “ultra slim” high-speed cable with RedMere is $17. Price: $3.50 (six-foot high speed)

Bottom line: unless you’re replacing many incandescent bulbs in a large house, you won’t see significant savings in your electricity bill.

Consider where you’d like to place your LED bulbs. If you have fully or semi-enclosed fixtures you need to light up, look for LEDs that are approved for recessed or enclosed spaces.

There is no loss in picture quality over long distances. However, there will be a point where you just don’t get a picture anymore. So if you’re not sure if 6 feet is long enough, go for 10 feet. It shouldn’t cost that much more money.

One thing to consider, regardless of length, is an active cable. RedMere technology and other active cables allow for thinner cables, or really long cables. These can be more expensive, but depending on how or where you’re installing them, sometimes a tiny flexible cable works better even if it costs a little more.

Because there are so many LED varieties, choosing an LED is entirely different from picking up an incandescent. Before you head to the store, find out what you need to know about choosing the right LED bulbs.

Type When it comes to TVs, there are four kinds of HDMI cables:

This guide explains why some LEDs will hum, flickr, or buzz when tied to a dimmer.

When shopping for LEDs, it helps to know what kind of dimming switch you have, but if you don’t know (or would rather not go through the trouble), simply search for LED bulbs compatible with standard incandescent dimmers. To make things easier for you, we tested a slew of them to find out which LED bulbs work best with dimmers.

Fry’s: This southwest regional chain is known for its funky stores and every part and piece you need to build your own space laser or robo-dolphin. It also has no-name-brand HDMI cables. Win. Price: $4.99 (6 feet, high speed)

Which store has the best deals on HDMI cables? Which Web site has the best selection? Which HDMI cable is right for your TV?

Keep in mind a few things: There is no such thing as an “HDMI 1.4” cable, nor do you need a special cable for 3D, 120 or 240Hz, or Audio Return Channel (ARC).

Although HDMI 2.0 is coming, there aren’t many products that support it yet. More importantly, current HDMI cables will work with HDMI 2.0. This ties in to the article mentioned above, but it’s worth repeating: 4K HDMI cables are nonsense.

As your incandescents burn out, it’s a good time to consider switching to LED bulbs.

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Forget what you know about incandescents — your watts are no good here.

RadioShack: Wow. The in-store offerings were offensive. The Web site has a $9 online-only 2-meter high-speed cable. Price: $28 (6 feet, high speed)

Because of their circuitry, LEDs are not always compatible with traditional dimming switches. In some cases, the switch must be replaced. Other times, you’ll pay a little more for a compatible LED.

LED bulbs are like hybrid cars: cheaper to operate but pricey upfront.

Home Depot: Decent prices, actually. In the store, the best I found was $13 for two 6-footers. Online this isn’t listed, but instead there are two $9 2-meter cables (incidentally, one is the same “brand” as RadioShack’s $9 offering). There’s also a $9 12-foot cable. Price: $13 for two (6 feet, high speed)

For consistency, I just checked high speed without Ethernet 6-foot/2-meter cables (some are measured in metric, some are counted in ‘Merican). I figured this was the length and speed most people would be interested in.

The lumen (lm) is the real measurement of brightness provided by a light bulb, and is the number you should look for when shopping for LEDs. For reference, here’s a chart that shows the watt-lumen conversion for incandescents and LEDs.

Led Ing Guide Cnet