Harvey Norman’s $350 HDMI cable #techtax


blog It can be an expensive task kitting out your home entertainment system. You’ve got to buy a media centre, flatscreen TV, a speaker system, a $350 HDMI cable from Harvey Norman to connect things together. Wait, what? Former Electronic Frontiers Australia activist and current IT industry worker Geordie Guy writes that he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw this one:

“Harvey Norman are selling an HDMI cable …, which is 4 meters long and $350.00. That’s right, three hundred and fifty dollars. Harvey Norman are nothing like the only offenders here, but as one of Australia’s largest consumer electronic retailers they should know better. The reason this cable costs so much is due to how it sits in a class of “premium cables”. Premium cables have gold-plated connectors, shielding inside the cable itself to protect it from electrical interference, some of them even have gas injected into them”

The problem, as Guy explains, is that these cables simply aren’t going to provide a clearer picture than a $14 cheapie — as unlike the traditional analogue signals, new digital television signals don’t degrade. They either work or they don’t. Adding in a $350 gold-plated cable isn’t going to make a lick of difference.

Seen similar pricing craziness around? Let us know. We’ll highlight it under the #techtax banner. It seems like Australia’s technology buyers have been getting a raw deal for a while now … it’s time to shine a light on some of the dodgier activities going on.

Image credit: Posted by Mark Anderson under Creative Commons (original from Walt Disney)


  1. I had an interesting experience with Harvey Norman. I was going to buy a nice new LCD TV, and they dropped the price as long as I bought an 8 socket surge protector. Alarm bells went off in my head since it was a Monster brand, which are well known for being overpriced.. but with the discount on the TV and the additional discount they gave me on the surge protector, I agreed. The funny thing was, that the sales guy said they’d take $50 off it, bringing it down to $199 instead of $249.

    After walking away and thinking more about it, I started to search online. I couldn’t find the RRP of the surge protector, so I rang the Australian distributor who advised me the RRP for this surge protect was actually $199! They were making up pricing and discounting it again back to RRP!

    I went back and complained to management, and they first came back with a better deal but I demanded my money back since I couldn’t trust them. They agreed that the sales person had lied to me and made up the pricing too. Eventually they folded and fully refunded me. The last thing they told me was ‘please don’t think all sales guys are like that’.

  2. There is different classes of HDMI cables that allow more features but thats the only difference.

    I’ve got some $3 hdmi cables and some $20 hdmi cables, don’t notice a difference between them at all.

  3. I picked up a 5m HDMI (v1.4a) cable from an Australian online provider for $38.50 (plus shipped) and it also had a gold connector. Can’t believe they’re still bluffing the non-savvy buyers with this product ‘snake oil’!

  4. Is this a bad time to admit that we haven’t even gotten our TV hooked up to HDMI? Neither from the Xbox or the media centre? #stuckinthepast

  5. I only ever buy my HDMI cables from this boutique electronics store, you haven’t heard of it … it’s called Coles … (seriously it’s digital cabling, $14.95 is the most i’d ever spend on it)

  6. That’s nothing. Check out the audioquest k2 cables on Amazon and make sure you read the reviews.

  7. I was at Harvey Norman yesterday buying a clothes dryer. Behind me when I was looking around, a salesman was trying to sell these excessively priced Monster HDMI cables to an old couple who had no idea. They were trying to sell them based on them being future proof for 4K screens that are ‘coming in soon’ (way to make the couple feel bad about their inferior 1080p screen they just bought). Also trying to tell them that lower priced cables will degrade picture quality, and it’s ‘really noticable’ on high def screens.
    Was ready to butt in and say something, but I figured the old couple would just think I’m some snot nosed kid.

    Felt terrible watching the salesman dupe these people into buying these cables.

  8. Next time call the Sales Person out on the bullsh1t he/she’s spinning. Karma will thank you.

  9. Some of the names and claims of these ultra super mega digital
    cables are hilarious too. I clearly remember seeing a $80 Monster branded USB printer cable promising “bolder richer colours”. Of course anything branded Monster, or any other high priced digital cables should be avoided like the plague.

    I’ve got my home theatre hooked up with 4 different HDMI sources using $30 no name HDMI 1.3a cables and there is no problem whatsoever with 1080p60 video and lossless 7.1 sound.

    There should be some sort of legislation introduced to stop these rip off artists from making such misleading claims and charging so much. I feel so sorry for the suckers that cough up that kind of money and think it’s actually a good investment!

  10. Monster cables are named that for the monster profit margins .

    I asked a Hardly Normal sales person how the cable could be required when alternatives were marked with the HDMI trademark? To use it on your product it has to pass testing. If it doesn’t pass then no HDMI markings. Needless to say he had no answer.

    Although they are “digital” cables they can have problems, particulary if they exceed maximum lengths specified in standard. That is when careful selection of the cable can matter. I used to work with a guy that designed hdmi gear for pro video processing.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is cable quality. Ask to see the eye diagrams.

    • Although they are “digital” cables they can have problems, particulary if they exceed maximum lengths specified in standard. That is when careful selection of the cable can matter. I used to work with a guy that designed hdmi gear for pro video processing.
      Yep, that is true. I used to install a lot of projectors working in A/V installation, and 10 metres is about the point that sparkles and signal drop-out can occur with cheaper cables. At times I’d have to install an HDMI booster to extend runs up to 20 metres+. However the “digital cliff” is very sudden. Just like Digital TV you get a perfect picture up until a point, then you get mild sparkles (white dots) on the picture and/or freezes and pops/clicks if it’s delivering sound. However this is only when dealing with hjgh bandwidth signals over long runs. The vast majority of people have their source equipment right next to their display, and in these cases (providing the HDMI cable is terminated properly) there should be no issues whatsoever with a full bandwidth 1080p 35mbps picture +lossless DTS HD sound over a cheap 1-3m cable.

      Its exactly the same situation with coaxial and optical outputs when dealing with Dolby Digital, DTS or PCM sound from a DVD player. The last Hi-Fi store I worked at was one of the more honest ones, and we’d include a $5 optical cable free of charge with installation. Someone once claimed there was a difference in quality between them, until we we showed him a recorded wave file we conducted using a coat-hanger from the back of a DVD player to to the coaxial input of a computer’s sound card. The wave file was of course bit-perfect regardless of whether a coat-hanger or $50 coaxial cable was used :)

      “Beauty may be in the eye on the beholder”, but it’s more a case of “placebo effect is in the brain of the beholder” when working in hi-fi :)

  11. This is a bad situation for the non-savvy consumer.

    My parents went into Harvey Norman looking for a TV, they bought one and then the salesperson said they needed a $150 HDMI cable to go with it. Luckily they called me before purchasing but I’m sure many others have been scammed by this.

    I’m sure they’ll get some hapless consumer to buy this $360 cable.

  12. Ah, Harvey Norman. Not long ago I overheard a sales person telling a couple that “Bluray is the only way to get High Def content on your tv”. I shook my head a little bit. I guess FTA HD doesn’t count. Nor does Matroska 1080p AC3 5.1 files playing on a Western Digital TV unit (which they also sell).

    The absolute worst one is the only time in my life I have walked from a store angry. My sister was wanting to buy a laptop, and she phoned me cause she was nervous about some things that a specific salesperson had told her. I had a quiet Saturday, so joined her in the store with a quiet chuckle.

    And this greasy little so-so… He tried to argue that netbooks were useless because they don’t have a CD drive and (CD’s are the only way you can install software)… I called him out on that one, mentioning that Windows 7 was available as a USB key, and digital downloads as well. Normally this kind of salesperson will back off once they realise the person knows what they are talking about, but nooooo. He kept on. Insisted that you need to buy the latest version of Symantec antivirus to get protection “because the free ones only release new definitions every couple of months”. My response, “that’s funny. I’ve had 2 definition updates for AVAST just today”, to which he called me a liar.

    And the worst was to come. He insisted that you need Symantec Antivirus because you can get virus’ from just visiting google.com, “cause the chinese hackers put virus’ on it”. I snapped at this point, as I had very closely followed the details of these attacks on google. I lectured him with a raised voice on the events as they had occured. And his response “well, I’ve had 3 customers get virus’ just like that, and I know what I’m talking about”. Without going into details, I know for a fact that my employment in the I.T. industry would make me easily 5x what he made. I roared at him “And you’re full of f’ing bulls$%t”, turned my heel, and walked away.

    At the front desk I saw the manager whom I know well enough. I told him that a sale on a brand new laptop was walking out of the door, and that I would not buy a thing from that store whilst that salesperson was still employed there.

    Later on I heard he didn’t even last out the week, there were so many complaints made against him.

    • Jesus. That has to be among the worst Harvey Norman stories I’ve heard! I used to work at an independent Hi-Fi store, so we’d get a lot of people buy crap from Harvey Norman because it was slightly cheaper than our products. However they’d then often have the cheek to call us for advice or to setup their Harvey Norman system when they got into trouble. I can’t tell you the number of times I fixed set top boxes and DVD/Blu-Ray players that had been connected via composite video, and analogue sound, when a simple coaxial, optical, component or HDMI cable was all they needed to go from analogue SD video and stereo pro-logic sound to 1080p + Dolby Digital DTS.

      I’d also often go in to the local HN stores and find half their sets playing stretched composite 4×3 pictures from players, because they hadn’t bothered or noticed the option to switch to 16×9 or connect using the right cables. I even got into an argument once because a salesmen insisted that S-Video was high definition!

      I could seriously go on all day with poor HN stories, but funnily enough I have to go install a nice new Onkyo amp for a friend right now :)

  13. I don’t know why anyone would pay these silly retail prices anymore. I got myself a few 2m HDMI cables and a 10m HDMI cable here: http://www.spacehifi.com.au/

    The total price worked out to be less than one of those crazy HDMI cables would have cost at one of the “major” retail outlets. What was even better, the advice and guidance I received was far more detailed than any of the stores I visited could provide.

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