No need for expensive Scart and HDMI leadsWhich? proves expensive leads are a waste of money

27 February 2010

Pure AV Belkin HDMi

Which? proves expensive HDMI and Scart leads are a waste of money

Which? testing has proved that cheap HDMI leads are just as good as expensive ones and if you spend more than £15 on a Scart or HDMI lead you'll most likely be wasting your money. 

Its lab test of three Scart leads and three HDMI leads at different price points has shown that you don’t need to buy expensive HDMI and Scart leads, no matter what a salesman might tell you.

Which? compared a £5, £15 and £60 Scart lead as well as a £10, £20 and £100 HDMI lead to see whether premium leads could improve DVD or Blu-ray picture quality.

What are Scart and HDMI leads?

Scart leads let you connect your TV with other audio-visual equipment, such as a DVD player, Freeview set-top box or PVR. HDMI leads do a similar job but for high definition television - if you want to watch Blu-Ray HD DVDs, for example, you'll need to connect your Blu-Ray player to your TV with an HDMI lead rather than a standard Scart lead.

Prices for leads that do the same basic job vary considerably and you might think that costlier leads would make for a better viewing experience - but Which? has found that's not always the case. 

Of course, no matter how good your lead, your viewing experience will only be as good as your TV set allows - be sure of a fantastic picture with a Best Buy flat screen TV from the Which? review of LCD and plasma TVs.

Cheap proves cheerful for HDMI leads

When Which? lab tested the following HDMI leads, the cheapest lead proved just as good as the most expensive:

  • A £10 Tesco Value HDMI lead
  • A £20 John Lewis HDMI lead
  • A £100 Belkin HDMI lead

Amazingly, our expert viewers saw no difference at all in the picture quality when using the three HDMI leads, with our technical tests confirming identical performances. We passed data through all our HDMI leads at 6.2Gb per second – a data rate more demanding than Blu-ray – without a single error occurring.

Go for mid-range Scart leads

Which? found there's no need to spend a fortune on a Scart lead but it's worth upgrading from the very cheapest on the market. Which? lab tested:

  • A £5 Tesco Value Scart lead
  • A £15 John Lewis Scart lead
  • A £60 Belkin lead

Critically, we found that the individual wires in the £5 Tesco Value lead weren’t screened for interference – which may cause picture problems. 

The mid-price John Lewis lead, though, did a perfectly adequate job. Our experts did note that up close they could just detect minor improvements with the £60 Belkin lead compared with the £15 John Lewis one, but there was no perceivable difference at normal viewing distance from a TV.

Which? technology editor Matt Bath said: ‘A £100 HDMI lead could cost as much as your new Blu-ray player, but it’s totally unnecessary to spend that much – buy the cheapest available. Pay a bit more for Scart leads, but avoid the most expensive as you’re unlikely to get a noticeable improvement over a mid-range one.’

For more about connecting your TV equipment, check out full Which? test results of Scart and HDMI leads.

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