Technology (general) 29 Aug 2007 08:16 am

The great cable debate

For some reason, the cable that carries signals from my Topfield PVR box to the TV has become intermittently faulty. Not sure why a cable would fail after well over a year of use, but there you go. The failure symptom is a badly flickering picture followed by complete loss of picture. I think the ‘Y’ component of the cable is the culprit.

So, I had to buy a new cable. The cable in question has a multi-pin European SCART plug on one end, and RCA connectors on the other (for component video and stereo audio).

I decided I’d spend a few dollars on a new cable for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to see whether a more expensive cable would produce a better picture
  2. I couldn’t find a cheap one!

I paid $50 for the new cable. It has (allegedly) gold plated connectors (well, they are a sort of gold colour), and the individual coaxial cables are much thicker than the cheap cable provided with the Toppy.

And, you know what, the picture is noticably better. Colour saturation and even-ness are improved. Text is sharper. Hard edges are harder.

I’m not surprised that there would be some improvement, given the skimpy quality of the coaxial cable employed by Topfield. I am somewhat surprised at the magnitude of the improvement (as viewed on my 86cm CRT TV).

Now, please don’t think I’ve become an expensive-cable-convert. Silly people could easily pay several hundred dollars for a SCART-to-RCA cable in a hifi store – but they’d be wasting their money. I think what I’ve seen here is evidence that a good quality cable does give a better result, but I know that a silly-priced cable probably wouldn’t see any improvement in performance at all.

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