I have been (for a long time) one of the guys with the mindset of "HDMI cables are HDMI cables. They pass 1s and 0s. As long as all of the data gets to the display, all is well". I may be changing my thoughts around this, after some more practical research, and some discussion here and with peers.
For the sake of argument, unless specifics are needed, I will leave out brand names.
I set up 2 very common, mid prices panels next to each other. Same settings, same viewing environment. The source is a very common, acceptable performance BR player with 2 HDMI outputs. Cable A (6') retails for $25, and cable B (1m) retails for $95. Content is "Ironman 2". If you are familiar with the movie, specifically this scene:http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcr...day_shortfilms
Overall there were 3 things that stood out to me.
1) Flesh tones. Cable B showed more detail in color, and overall had a deeper look. I paused the scene on a specific shot with Gwyneth Paltrow's face very clear and centered in the frame. There is some rosey-ness on her cheek bones (you could tell she had makeup on), but her cheeks look normal. Cable A showed none of that detail. Similar details could easily bee seen in Mickey Rourke's face. Cable a looked flat, while cable B showed a deeper flesh tone.
2) Color saturation/color detail. Mickey Rourke is wearing a bright orange suit in that scene. Cable B showed a nice, deep, detailed orange. Cable A again was flat in detail, and was also a less saturated orange. It was almost as if it was a lighter shade. The depth in the blue race car was also obviously different, cable B showing better saturation.
3) Distortion in motion. Cable A was phenomenally more distorted as the cars were racing around. It was as if cable A couldn't keep up.
I performed my observations using 2 different settings on the panels. My first observation was done using the factory "standard" picture mode. The second observation was as close to calibrated as I could get, as I did not have my gear on site. Picture mode "movie", color space "custom", color temp "normal", sharpness 0, pic size "screen fit", all enhancements and extra processing "off". (Some of you can probably guess the panel at this point!)
The differences that I observed were the same, whether I had the panels set to "standard" or "movie" (with my respective tweaks)
Here where my mind starts to question everything. am I seeing a difference in :
1) the cables?
2) the panels?
3) the HDMI outputs?
My next set of tests would be to hook up my gear (VP403, C6, Calman 4.6) and take some color measurements.