Silly question - WHY is coax not capable between cable box and TV?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Matt-MW, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. Matt-MW

    Matt-MW Auditioning

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    Ok, Silly question time for my first post here:

    If the coax cable is fine enough to carry the 300+ channels the 250 feet from the cable distribution box, down the street, into my home and then to the cable receiver... why isn't it good enough to carry the one selected channel the remaining 5 feet from the cable receiver to my HDTV? Why does it now take a $50 HDMI (or $100 from monster)?

    I understand shielding and pure gold connections and all the rest (I am an Electronics tech with 17 years experience), it is just that we are saying that the very same cable that brought the signal to the box is insufficient from taking it from the box to the TV...

    Anyone have a good explanation for me?

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. Dan Burch

    Dan Burch Agent

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    Matt,
    I'm not an expert, but I asked this question a few weeks ago in the Display devices forum. Although I called if a stupid question. The answer I received was that it really all about copy protection, not signal quality. I read a article in Popular Mechanics that basically stated that along with HDMI is a copy protection program. Devices on both sides of the cable must have it to work. DVI converted to HDMI may not work because of this copy protection. That's all I know hopefully someone else can clarify.
    Dan
     
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Matt. Welcome to HTF! [​IMG]

    And no, that's not a stupid question - it's one that many people dont think about when some salesman is trying to sell them 6 ft of a $$$ wire that tacks on the end of hundreds of yards of CATV coax.

    CABLE TO YOUR HOUSE:

    This wire carries 3 kinds of signals:

    - RF Analog CATV channels
    - High Def digital channels
    - (perhaps) Digital internet signals

    The CATV box represents a "tuner" that lets you pick 1 channel out of all the others.

    CATV BOX TO THE TV:

    You dont have to have the digital cable to your TV. The back of your box SHOULD have component video and L/R audio jacks.

    But as Dan pointed out - Hollywood is very afraid of high-quality video being casually tossed around where someone can make a Video-CD, or even a VHS tape that comes close to being a master-copy, then making thousands of copies for other markets. So the HDMI and DVI have copy-protection built in to prevent someone from using them to master copies.

    To "encourage" you to adopt the DVI/HDMI connection, some of the CATV box's only output a lower-quality signal through the component-video jacks. Perhaps 480p or 720i.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    The side-catch is, why does an HDMI cable, which is probably identical in characteristics to a 6-pin fire-wire cable, cost $50?

    Realistically, why didn't they just say, "gee. We're doing a ultra-wide-band twisted pair connection. Why can't we just use a Cat-5e cable and an RJ-45 plug?"

    Or would that have made too much sense?

    Leo
     
  5. Matt-MW

    Matt-MW Auditioning

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    Leo,

    That is a $50 cable if you get a decent cable, not a 'you have to be kidding me' Monster cable. The HDMI400 has triple shielding and "Gas—injected dielectric" and costs from $100 - 170 depending on length. Their M1000DAV for 'high-end devices' has quad shielding and "Nitrogen gas injected dielectric" and will set you back $200 - 400 depending on length.

    Ridiculas!
     
  6. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I build my own component RCA cables and one day I sat down and added up all the costs involved with building a cable and sending it to someone. It came out to about $30-35 just to cover materials and shipping. No profit or payment to me.

    You are a tech. Ever hear the term "Manufacturing Cost" for a machine in your job? At my wife's company where they have about 30+ wires in a machine, they actually ignore the price of the wire, connectors, and thousands of dollars in crimp tools. The wire costs are based on the LABOR.

    I believe there ARE some machines that simply cut and attach plugs to single-strands of a wire. But to my knowledge - you cannot automate building of multi-strand cables. Every cable is hand stripped, crimped, plug attached, heat-shrinked. Even if it only takes a few minutes - the labor cost outweighs the material costs.

    This is why a basic 6-ft cable costs about $50 - labor.
     
  7. Zack Gibbs

    Zack Gibbs Screenwriter

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    But there are plenty of other kinds of cables that would presumably require that same labor, and they don't cost $50+. I think it's just a matter of "because they can." The manufacturers know that people aren't going to worry too much about a 50 dollar cable when they just plunked down thousands for the TV it's needed for. They can get away with it so they do.
     
  8. Matt-MW

    Matt-MW Auditioning

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    Sorry, but this is where I have a real disagreement with you. First of all, since there are computerized machines that populate, solder and package circuit boards, I don't see much complexity with creating a machine to get multiple connectors straight. In fact, cutting into some of these molded cables, it is obvious that they were machine created. But, let's for arguments sake say that the HDMI cable that I paid $50 was not done by machines, but by people. Ok, you would agree that I pull off 6 ft from a machine made spool, correct? I then strip what looks to be about 10 pair wire - seconds each. Ok, manually soldering those 20 wires would take me a bit of time as I was working out a system, but once I got on a roll, it would take me mere seconds per connector and yes, I understand how small they are. I am qualified and have soldered under a microscope before - micro-miniature soldering.

    Manufacturing for a machine made cable would be under $5. For a human completed cable, maybe $2-3 more - max $10 each. So, I am sorry, but I don't agree with your argument at all. They are charging that because they can. Monster charges $100 - 400 for their HDMI cables! I am not saying that their isn't a difference between their cable and a $16 bargain basement cable. (Which by the way has exactly the same number of connections, so it isn't just the labor).

    So, in short - yea it is a racket. They do make better cables than the Kmart style junk, but not so much that justifies what they charge.

    Just my .02 worth... well, maybe a bit more. [​IMG]

    Matt
     
  9. Dick Knisely

    Dick Knisely Second Unit

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    Matt -- accurate analysis in my book. Just like any product, the maker will charge as much as he can while keeping sales up. Every marketing course teaches that pricing much more than just running the numbers. To a variable extent consumers will perceive higher price = better and IMHO cables are one of those areas where various companies have exploited that.

    But I also know just how strongly many audio/videophiles believe they see/hear the difference. Personally, I don't think it is a subject that will ever be settled on logic alone.
     
  10. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Ahhh... you wanted to rant about the over-priced cable companies.

    Why dont you look at "Audiophile" where a small ad at the back asks for $600 for a 1 Meter coaxial-digital cable? Or find the speaker wire company that promised that their "super secret" way of winding the copper strands together would fix "temporial issues"?

    There is a lot of snake-oil and "junk science" used to fool people into buying expensive copper. We try to steer people away from these around here.

    Why not help? Can you find some decent HDMI cables for less than about $50? (My favorite cable-builder charges about $43).
     
  11. Matt-MW

    Matt-MW Auditioning

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    I really didn't start the thread with the intention to rant about the cost of the cables... but to honestly ask the question I asked. I couldn't understand why the coax cable that brought the entire set of channels into the cable box couldn't carry the single selected high def channel to the tv with high quality. Instead we are forced to use HDMI or DVI or at the very last resort, composite.

    95% couldn't get their cables where I bought mine... it was a Base Exchange (BX). Normally I would buy from the Navy Exchange, but I am not working on a Navy base this tour. It isn't always the best price, but for many products, it often is.
     
  12. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Well, the short of it is, "because we can make you use a different cable."

    Unfortunately, while they're doing this, they're also creating an entirely "new" cable and are charging the earth for it. That was my aspect of the rant.

    Leo
     
  13. Michael Travis

    Michael Travis Auditioning

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    The whole cable quality argument is a valid one but I think we got off of track in helping answer Matts question. Matt, the best way I can explain it is to think of the cable or satellite box as a water purifier. Going in it taste like crap but coming out it's clean and taste fresh. Same idea. The signal that comes into you home from mile upon miles of coax cable is about as simple and weak as you can get and still have picture and sound, once it enters the box it goes through multiple sequences that up the quality of the signal, kind of like a high tech in line signal amplifier that you would use for long cable runs. That big black boxs purpose isn't soley to filter out channels it also cleans the signal. Therefore once the signal leaves the box on the way to your tv you would try to use a good quality cable to avoid any kind of lose in quality. I hope that was easy enough to understand. Mike
     
  14. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    That would be component, not composite and I would dare say it is not a "last resort". Up until HDMI/DVI, component was the highest quality connection available and I myself cannot see the difference between it and HDMI/DVI. HDMI/DVI has more to do with the need for copy protection than it does with a superior picture.
     
  15. Michael Travis

    Michael Travis Auditioning

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    You are correct jeff and I still use COMPONENT video cables all the time and I agree that there is very little to no difference at all in quality between the two it's more or less for copywrite protection like you said. There is nothing wrong with COMPONENT video. Mike
     
  16. PatrickJB

    PatrickJB Extra

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    Matt-MW, not sure if it was mentioned above but go to cablesforlessDOTcom

    Super cheap and equal quality wires. Give it a look-see.
     
  17. John S

    John S Producer

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    Thanks for the cables for less tip...


    30' HDMI $49!!!!


    That is a good price.
     
  18. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    I thought the question was, why can I buy a hundred feet of antenna coax for X dollars but one video cable costs XXX dollars.

    It is my belief that antenna coax wire is perfectly usable for component video cables (you need three of them), all you need to do is remove the F connectors and put on RCA plugs. Antenna coax is 75 ohm also, as is needed for component video cables.

    Or am I missing something about the frequency response of the cable? (Which for antenna coax needs to be up to around a gigahertz while component video goes up to 14 megahertz for progressive scan or 37 MHz for HDTV.)

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  19. John S

    John S Producer

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    Allan Jayne.. For any sort of longer Component Video Cable runs, that is excactly what I do. I feel RG6 makes the best component cable period performance wise. Can be a PITA to work with where connecting it to the equipment is concerned though. It just doesn't bend and dress like real component cables do.
     

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