Your HD set-top box and Blu-ray and HD DVD players have to deliver their  sound and picture to the plasma, LCD or projector. They do this via cables. The cables packaged with HDTVs and other electronic equipment are typically of low quality, and may be too short for your setup. You can do justice to your investment and achieve better quality pictures and sound by replacing these free ?in-the-box? cables with high-quality interconnects.

So-called because they join separate electronic devices, interconnects come in two main flavours: audio and video and, within these, analog and digital. The digital variety typically offers better quality in a more convenient cable and should be your first choice. Indeed, the only way to deliver true Dolby Digital and DTS sound from your player to your receiver is to use a digital cable.

To maintain quality throughout the chain, though, all equipment ? HDTV, HD set-top box, home theatre receiver ? needs to have matching connections. Adaptors can be used to link equipment that lacks ?like? connections, but the quality defaults to the lower of the two connections.

The quality of any cable will be reflected in its price, but performance comes down to the way it has been constructed and the material used for the connectors at each end. Gold- or silver-plated connectors provide a better connection to whatever you?re connecting to, reducing the likelihood of corrosion damaging the quality of the connection over the years. Good-quality shielding (the wire sheath underneath the cable?s insulation), is vital to ensure the video and audio signal is not damaged during its journey between the different items of your equipment by interference from nearby cables, electronic equipment or other stray electrical fields.