Shopping – Brick-and-mortar vs. Online

Long story short, my parents bought a new, larger TV because Mom is developing some vision problems, and they gave me the old one. So now I have a nice HDTV. But since what I had before was an older standard definition CRT-based TV, nothing I have connects to the new TV except my DVD player (using component video cables) – it doesn’t have a composite video connection or s-video, and nothing I have uses coax. So, I have to buy a few things.

  1. Two HDMI cables – one for my laptop (which has an HDMI out port), and one for the Blue-Ray player I plan to get next month.
  2. The “HD” component video cable for my Wii (which doesn’t really put out HD, just Enhanced Definition).
  3. An antenna for broadcast channels.

While I’ve always known that you can get stuff cheaper online than in brick-and-mortar stores, shopping around this time has really hammered the point home. For instance, the Wii cables? At Best Buy, they have one set that retails for about $35. At Amazon, I can get a set for $5.34 (and that’s Prime eligible, so I won’t pay any shipping costs). The same pricing difference applies for the HDMI cables. The cheapest one I found in the stores here runs about $20. At Amazon, I can get one for $3, with no shipping charges. Even the cheapest one online at Best Buy is $4.74. And remember, with digital it either works or it doesn’t. You won’t see any difference between the $3 cable and a $50 cable, as long as it works. (There could be a quality difference with the Wii cable, since component video is analog, but it’s still worth $5 to see if I can save $30.)

I’m all for supporting local stores (even national chains, because keeping the local store open provides local jobs), but sometimes the price difference is just too much to justify it. Why pay 6 or 7 times what you can get it online for when you don’t have to?


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  1. Cables are the biggest rip-off known in the electronics industry. The $3 cables are just as good as the $35 MONSTER *gold-wound* Turbo Injected ULTRA Wi-Fi HIGH-SPEED!! CAT-9 Multi-Duplexing Insert_Adjective_ ones that come with a EXTENDED WARRANTY!!

  2. It is more like if you need it TODAY because the cat chewed through the old cable and everybody is going to be here in an hour for the BIG GAME.

    That, and people do don’t appreciate the “it either works or it doesn’t” aspect of digital.

    • People don’t appreciate…. my typing skills are failing in my old age…

    • It is more like if you need it TODAY because the cat chewed through the old cable and everybody is going to be here in an hour for the BIG GAME.

      Well, there is that kind of situation. OTOH, a 600% premium to be able to walk out the doors with it is still pretty steep – it would need to be a definite “I have to have it now, and there’s no work-around” type situation to really justify it.

      I think the issue with digital is that most people don’t understand how it works beyond “it’s better.” They just remember how with analog it could make a difference (though not as much as cable manufacturers would like you to believe, and only up to a certain point) and extend that to digital.

  3. DEE

     /  April 17, 2012

    There is a substantial difference in quality of cables. Whether or not you would notice the difference or if you can offer an opinion on the “value” difference would depend on if you decided to own each. I have high end gear and those $5 cables wont even register a picture because of the inconsistent ohm loads. Also, many manufacterers are going to UMRP or ulilateral pricing that will greatly impact the price war. Example, if you are an authorized Samsung dealer, ONLINE OR BRICK AND MORTOR, it price WILL BE THE SAME. Some “unauthorized” dealers may sell it cheaper but it comes at the cost of the warrenty. Not authorized, no warrenty.

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