Saturday, August 23, 2008

The pitfalls of PC replacement shopping

I'm having great fun shopping online for a desktop PC to replace the one I lost in the fire.

For a start, very few of the major vendors' Web sites are very helpful when it comes to describing precisely which level of what standards their components implement. In monitors, for example, the coming wave is HDMI - the "High-Definition Multimedia Interface" connection. If you'd like to learn more about HDMI - as I needed to , this very day! - there's an excellent tutorial at the HDMI Learning Center page. Click on the "Introduction to HDMI" link. Highly recommended.

Trouble is, once you know what you want (for example, HDMI) and call the vendors, their representatives will duck and dive and do anything but give you an honest answer. If you ask them, "Is this monitor HDMI-enabled?", or "Does this monitor have an HDMI connector?", they won't answer directly (because relatively few monitors are HDMI-equipped as yet). Instead, they'll say their monitor is "HDMI-compliant" or "HDMI-compatible", a weasel way of saying that it has an older DVI connector, plus software emulation or some other method of imitating the later HDMI standard. That's not the same thing as HDMI-enabled! It's like looking for hen's teeth to locate honest information.

Right now, my thinking is that I want to buy the best and latest-technology monitor I can afford. For certain, it's got to implement the latest version of the HDMI standards (1.3). I can go with a cheaper PC, and either upgrade its graphics card later, or buy a new PC: but my monitor has to be as good as possible, as it's more expensive than any other component. I think I'll have to buy the monitor as a separate item from a specialist vendor, and source the PC from a low-cost supplier like Tiger Direct (whom I've used before, and who've given me great service. Again, highly recommended - and no, I don't get paid commission for saying that!).

I'll post more information as and when I can squeeze, torture and extort it from the vendors I speak to.



Justin Buist said...

There's really no point in using HDMI on a PC.

HDMI has two purposes:

1) Putting the audio and video information into one cable with only one connector at each end. That's useful for television, but not so much on a PC.

2) Restricting playback to only authorized devices. That's not really all that useful for the consumer, and it's really the sole reason that HDMI exists.

HDMI provides a two-way communication stream between the broadcast device and the display device. The reason for that is they want the broadcast device to ID the output device before it actually starts sending the content data over. If your display device is a DVR system that the provider doesn't like (because it lets you store the video) all they have to do is remove that device ID from the approved list and viola: You're in the dark.

Will you ever run into that problem? Probably not, but I know at least one tech buddy of mine that dumped it just because it took too long to "tune in" to a signal because of the overhead involved with IDing the output system. In the end it offered no real benefit to him, so he dumped it, and went wit component cables.

Granted, that was for a TV.

I don't know a single geek yet running HDMI on his home or work PC.

SpeakerTweaker said...


HDMI is a bit more than the previous commenter suggested. It carries the same digital video signal as DVI (which is why a simple adapter will work), but it also serves to unify the digital video world into a standard, and do it on a smaller connector.

That said, you're better off acquiring a monitor made by a major flat-panel TV manufacturer that just has more experience in HDMI (LG would be a good example). Most 16:9 flat-panel monitors above the 23" mark will accept the most commonly used resolutions as an input, and if you spent the extra buck you can easily get one that will take any resolution up to and including 1920x1200.

Drop me an email (it's at my blog). My company's a major A/V dealer. I can help you spend less:)


Mulligan said...

built my latest computer last spring and for pc components newegg was cheaper than tigerdirect.

Anonymous said...

I would not use a HDMI monitor even though my video card will support it but if you are set on it take a look at this one.

ASUS MK241H Black 24" 2ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor with 1.3M Pixel Web cam 450 cd/m2 1000:1 (ASCR 3000:1) Built in Speakers. available at

As far as buying a computer goes I recommend building your own as you can buy quality parts and assemble it yourself for less then you would spend on a med to high end system from any manufacture. EBAY has several stores that will custom build a system for you if your not keen on doing it yourself or you can buy the parts and assemble yourself.

If you go to EBAY plug in the following number in the search engine and it will show you a fairly good system.


Hope this helps a little and you can reach me through Diamond Mair if I can help with any other advice.