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Panasonic's Free Angle HDMI cables: Cool, but there are cheaper options available

The Panasonic RP-CDHF15 Free Angle HDMI cables include rotating heads for squeezing into tight spaces--but a similar workaround is available for much less.

Panasonic Free Angle HDMI cables
Panasonic

At first glance, Panasonic's Free Angle HDMI cables look to be the perfect solution for HD connections in tight spaces. The cables--available in lengths of 1.5 and 3 meters--are so named because the HDMI plugs on each side can rotate up to 180 degrees. That means you can fold the plug down to a 90-degree angle with the cable (as shown), allowing it to fit into spaces as tight as 1.2 inches--ideal for wall-mounted TVs, for instance.

The cables worked just as well as standard HDMI cables in a quick and impromptu test. The only problem, then, is the price: $60 for the 1.5m, $80 for the 3m. Since we at CNET always opt for the most affordable HDMI cables possible, we're more accustomed to paying $10 or less. But we do like the flexibility offered by the Free Angle cables.

One possible solution: the HDMI Port Saver at monoprice.com. Available for less than $5, these dongles add an L-shaped terminus to any standard HDMI plug. Pair two of those with a 6-foot HDMI cable (about $13), and you'll be paying less than $27 total--and that includes shipping and handling. That's a savings of more than $50 versus the similarly sized Panasonic offering.

Just two things to keep in mind. First, we haven't personally tested the Port Savers; we're assuming they work well based on the simplicity of the design and the positive user reviews. Secondly, note that the Port Savers aren't flexible like the Panasonics. Instead, they're locked into 90-degree and 270-degree versions--basically, pointing "up" or "down." They're also available in "vertical" orientations as well (90-degree, 270-degree). In other words, pay careful attention to as to which direction your HDMI ports are configured, and purchase accordingly.