Sean asked me what he should know before buying HDMI cables.

There's nothing complicated about buying the right HDMI cable. If it's long enough and not damaged, it will work.

But the people selling the cables may not want you to know that. The more worried you are about buying the right cable, the more likely you'll spend more money.

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HDMI has become the default audio-video cable standard for good reason: It sends the best quality image and sound over a single cable with a moderately small connector. And even though there are multiple versions of HDMI, the cables themselves are universally backward- and forward-compatible.

Yet the various versions can be confusing and intimidating. For instance, you've probably heard that 3D Blu-rays require HDMI 1.4. Your 3D Blu-ray player and your 3D HDTV both support HDMI 1.4. But if you're daisy-chaining a receiver between the two, you'd better make sure that that receiver also supports HDMI 1.4.

Despite all that, you don't have to worry about buying HDMI 1.4 cables. Every HDMI cable you can buy supports all of the standard's versions. In fact, HDMI Licensing, the organization that controls the trademark, doesn't currently allow manufacturers to put version numbers on their cables.

And here's two other concerns you don't have to worry about: price and brand names. Cheap, generic HDMI cables provide just as good an image and sound as the high-priced alternatives. In an analog world, cable quality matters; in a digital one, not so much. For more on that, see Technology's Biggest Myths.