It looks like everyone’s favorite super-expensive ethernet cable company, Belkin, are inflating the price of their $199 HDMI Interface 3-to-1 Video Switch, the same OEM HDMI box as BetterCables and Comects’ Neptune (also favorably reviewed by Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, described as “inexpensive” at $222). It appears Monoprice has the same hardware for $67.46.
You have to ask yourself what premium you are willing to pay for branding from BetterCables and Belkin. As AV consumers we expect higher quality from our boutique brands. We assume that we are paying a higher price for their product because the company invested many hours on R&D and quality assurance. But what if that warm feeling is just a placebo caused by a rebadging of an OEM product? What if the only creative thought that went into these products was where to place your logo and how to spin the tech copy to justify its price and also scare you away from more affordable (or even fairly priced) alternatives (that look suspiciously like the same product).
Video switchers are not a sexy product, they are completely utilitarian. It’s awful that we even have to consider paying this much money for a boutique company’s product that is really an affordable OEM with the exact same functionality and performance. A backlash to industry wide HDMI price gouging is growing fueled by the extremely low prices of Monoprice and other discount cable suppliers (like RAM Electronics).
I assume as a response to my post this morning (and being featured on Gizmodo), BetterCables has removed the pricing and description of their HDMI switcher. I hope they explain themselves soon. The Secrets site was down this morning (coincidence?) but when they came back their review of BetterCables HDMI Switcher was unchanged.