Monster Cable today announced a new upgrade program intended to guarantee forward-compatibility for the company's high-end HDMI cables. Beginning in mid-September, Monster's Home Theater Ultra 1000, M Series M1000HD and 1000HD cable lines will be emblazoned with the new "Cable for Life" logo. Monster is pledging to replace said cables, free of charge, when and if future products eventually appear that make use of higher bandwidth HDMI connections. For instance, current 1080p video streams max out at 8-bit color and 60Hz frame rate, which require about 4.46 gigabits per second of data bandwidth, but Monster is anticipating 12-bit, 120Hz 1080p video streams a few years down the road, which will require more than three times the throughput capacity. So the HDMI output on a 120Hz-capable Blu-ray player that hits the market in, say, 2010 may exceed the current bandwidth capacity of existing cables--and if you've got one of Monster's "lifers," you can swap up to a new one at that time. (Note that the "Cable for Life" guarantee is separate from the lifetime warranty found on many Monster Cables.)
To be sure, the Cables for Life guarantee sounds great--but is it worth it?
A 4-foot M1000 cable will set you back $150. While that cable may be guaranteed "forever," you could instead buy a no-name 6-footer at Monoprice for less than $16. Yeah, the Monoprice one may crap out after a couple of years--at which time you could buy a replacement for another $20 or so. The skeptical geeks over at Gizmodo just did a three-part face-off between Monster and Monoprice HDMI cables, and--while their results weren't exactly conclusive--overall, they supported the notion that bargain cables perform just as well as premium cables in the vast majority of real-world scenarios. In other words, if you're not concerned with compatibility with future video bandwidth--which you might not encounter for years, if ever--the bargain cables are a much more cost-effective solution.
Agree? Disagree? Add your comments to this Crave entry, or jump into the fracas in the CNET forums (Premium cables: ripoff or required?).