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The 12 biggest technology myths

Find out the truth behind tech's tallest tales

The internet is a breeding ground for lies, half-truths, and misinformation, especially when it comes to technology. We've dug up some of the web's most notorious nuggets of conventional wisdom to see which hold up to scrutiny and which are merely urban legends.

High-priced HDMI makes HDTV better

When you plunk down over £700 for a new HDTV and £200 for a Blu-ray player, it can be easy for a salesperson to guilt you into tacking a £65 HDMI cable onto your purchase - after all, your brand-new gear needs a good cable to get the image quality you're paying for, right? If you're lucky, you'll have the alternative of buying the 'cheap' cable, at a cost of only £15 and a disapproving look from the cashier. Well, feel free to take that £65 and spend it on popcorn for the movies you'll be watching -your HDTV won't care which HDMI cable you use.

High-quality cables have been a staple of the audio/video business for decades now, and for good reason: as an analogue audio or video signal travels from one device to another, it's susceptible to interference and disruption, meaning that the image data as it leaves your DVD player isn't 100 percent identical to the image that shows up on your TV, because certain parts of the signal can get lost on the way there.

However, digital audio/video standards like DisplayPort, DVI, and HDMI don't have this problem because the data be­­ing transmitted over the cable isn't as sensitive as an analogue signal; it consists entirely of ones and zeros, and a tremendous drop in signal voltage has to occur before a one starts to look like a zero at the receiving end. When this does happen, you'll usually see some kind of white static 'sparklies' on your TV, as the set attempts to fill in the blanks itself, but this typically happens only over very long HDMI runs (8 metres and up). For shorter cables, the cable quality shouldn't matter.

That explanation rarely succeeds in silencing the home-theatre enthusiasts (and home-theatre salespeople) who swear that they see a difference between the good stuff and the cheap stuff, so we decided to check them out ourselves to see whether cost made a difference. We tested two pricey HDMI cables - the Monster HD1000 (£70) and the AudioQuest Forest (£40) - against a couple of £5 own-brand cables.

After testing different kinds of high-def video clips (including clips of football broadcasts and selections from The Dark Knight on Blu-ray), we ended up with all four cables in a dead heat: the two own-brand cables and the Monster all saw an average rating of 3.5 out of 5, with AudioQuest trailing ever so slightly at 3.4 - close enough to practically be a rounding error. So save your money and stick to the cheaper cables unless you need the cables to cover a long distance.

Warning: 4, Outrageous

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