Save money on cables by skipping brick and mortar stores



I really hate it when I get a new gadget to review and find out too late that the necessary cables to hook it up haven’t been included in the package. There’s nothing worse than making a quick trip to Walmart, Best Buy, etc. only to have sticker shock when I see how much they want to charge for HDMI, Ethernet, and other cables. You would think they were made of gold or something. Ok, some of them do have gold plated connectors, but you get my point. So here’s a quick tip… buy a couple extra cables and put them in a drawer for a rainy day. Don’t buy them from a brick and mortar store though, you can save a lot of bucks by shopping at online retailers like Optimized Cable Company. They might be generic cables that don’t have a brand name like Monster, but they are certified by the same North American plant that gives both of them their HDMI ratings.

What do you think? Do you insist on brand name cables, or are you like me and look for a good bargain?

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • John Ray Cabrera May 13, 2009, 7:51 am

    i am admittingly a cheapskate, for a good practical reason. in my place, there are cables that i can buy for as meager as $10-15. and they work as fine as those $20 price tag.

  • alan May 13, 2009, 8:00 am

    I tend to use “Brand name” cables and most cables purchased at box stores are almost invariably a rip-off. The online retailers have wider selection at better prices and work just as well.

  • David May 13, 2009, 9:22 am

    The way I see it is they slash the prices on the components that you want. Then make back serious coin on the cables and the little stuff you need to get all of those components hooked up. If you’re aware of that and plan for it you can save by having the needed cables already in hand.

  • Jackson May 13, 2009, 10:11 am

    On vacation, movie on iPod, wanted to watch on TV, no cable = $60 at local RS store! So bad!

  • Andy Chen May 13, 2009, 10:45 am

    +1 for Monoprice. For HDMI cables, for instance… I had no idea you could choose from a variety of gauges, colors, lengths, etc. Incredible.

  • James Sullivan May 13, 2009, 1:16 pm

    I agree that brick & mortar stores charge a premium.
    But, one must realize that their overhead is much higher than an online store, also that they provide local employment & contribute to the local economy. I personally tend to generally shop locally when possible for those reasons.

    However when necessary I do shop online.
    As far as online stores for cables, I am surprised that CablesToGo ( was not mentioned as a extremely good place to shop for cables.

  • Tony C May 13, 2009, 3:01 pm

    Another +1 for MonoPrice — except that being on the opposite coast of California, you pay more for shipping and have to wait longer.

  • Jean-Denis Haas May 13, 2009, 3:06 pm

    Yep, another endorsement for MonoPrice. Great selection, awesome price. Although the customer support could be better, but might have been only me.

  • Howie May 13, 2009, 5:20 pm

    The brick and mortar’s contributing to the local economy is a great theory. But it’s akin to the trickle down theory of economics. You know, give the money to the rich and it will trickle down. Problem is, what is happening is, you pay $100 for cables that cost them $5. $45 goes back into the economy and $50 goes into the corporate pot. Eventually the wealth starts to accumulate with the wealthy.

    On the other hand, you could look for the best price you can get. Pay $5-10 online. If you want to stir the economy more, take the $90-95 you saved and invest it in stock, bonds, or other securities. The economy starts to rise due to the addition capital coming into the market and you get even richer.

    In anycase, if you excercise your rights as a consumer to look for the best prices, you actually contribute to the market by making it more competitive and forcing companies to be more aggressive in the level of products and services offered. That is the basis of capitalism.

  • Hai Vu May 13, 2009, 6:12 pm

    +1 for monoprice. I got my HDMI, component, optical cables from them and they perform great so far. While I am not an audiophile, I do have good enough eyes and ears and I could not tell the differences between brand name cables and the generic ones.

  • Shawn May 13, 2009, 7:35 pm

    Monoprice is good. By the way James Sullivan, to your post, is practically a retailer just selling cables online. You can basically assume they are a brick and mortar store. Why don’t you shop at Monoprice like the rest of the community and enlighten yourself, that there are better sources for cables other than companies like =P

  • Josh May 14, 2009, 6:59 am

    HDMI needing a price tag above $12 for a 9 foot cable is absurd. It’s a digital signal; it gets the 1’s and 0’s for its digital data stream, or it doesn’t. There’s no interference phooey that one could run into… which is something that the salesmen at a place like Best Buy would never admit to. Claiming that Monster future-proof’s their cables is garbage as well; It’s not like they are able to make HDMI 1.7a qualifying cables when just 1.3 standards are available. You pay upwards of $60 for future-proofing that isn’t even future-proofed. And of course, Best Buy only advertises their most expensive stuff to create a false price reference for consumers. They see what BB charges, and automatically it becomes “buyer beware” when they see an offer for cheap HDMI cables, as though there’s a difference.

    Me, I go newegg. You occasionally get free shipping deals and there’s a wide array of cheap cables to choose from.

  • Mark Adkins May 14, 2009, 11:17 pm

    The only caveat I would offer is that you CAN go TOO CHEAP on cables. Some knock-off generics use thin, low-grade conductors, chintzy hardware, etc. There are many of us who have been burned by cheap ‘eBay’ cables for Palms, iPods, etc. that did not work right.

    This is why it is nice when there are standards and when you can use a nice website with a good reputation.

  • Jose C May 16, 2009, 10:48 pm

    Yes, Monoprice has great prices but beware of their unreliable shipping. I live in Florida and 2 out of the 5 times I purchased cables from Monoprice the order got “lost” in their warehouse and were never shipped…meanwhile on their website it said it was…I stopped buying from for that reason. Dealing with their customer service was a pain and it took weeks to resolve the shipping issue. Also I used to work in a high end electronic store many years ago…and anything “Monster” had a markup of over 50% sometimes reaching as high as 80%(!!!) which is pure profit for the store and the salesman’s commission. Don’t be fooled by the tales of “improved nuances in video and audio and future proofed” its all sale talk…also do beware of very cheap cables because of poor insulation and very poor connectors/plug and how they are connected to the cable(usually just lightly clamped which can easily loosen or cause shorts)

  • Sean May 17, 2009, 11:18 am

    The best way to get cables is to look at the specs online before you buy, order your cables at an e-tailer like and then go to the brick and morter store to buy your camera, printer, etc. Also, radio shack is the worst for quality to price ratio. I always feel dirty when I leave there.

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