The price difference between branded tech accessories and third-party options can be dramatic. But does the extra cost bring any performance benefits, or do we assume branded products will be safer?
On my desk in the office, I’ve got a phone charger and an iPod cable plugged into my PC. Neither of them are ‘official’ branded accessories. In fact, they don’t even have a brand name on them.
And at home I’ve eschewed the official remote control recommended by my TV manufacturer, using a cheap third-party replacement instead. So far, none of these accessories have burst into flames. And even better, they do the job they were made to without a hint of fuss.
This raises the question – do we really need to buy branded tech accessories at a premium?
An HDMI cable by any other name…
Last year, we looked into the performance of HDMI cables. Anyone who’s ever had to purchase an HDMI cable will know that prices can range from a couple of pounds to £100 and beyond.
But surely that doesn’t reflect the performance range? After all, HDMI cables carry a digital signal – a collection of ones and zeros – how much degradation could there be?
As it turned out, the answer is ‘none’. We tested the cables in our lab and our experts concluded that there was no difference in performance between them all. For example, we tested a Tesco Value cable (£9.97) against a Belkin model (£99.99) and the performance was identical. So it seems that an HDMI cable is an HDMI cable, no matter what the brand.
Style over substance
So why do we still buy branded accessories? Well, there’s no denying that some of them simply look better. Apple’s accessories are fairly untouchable when it comes to design and, admittedly, my third-party iPod cable is an ugly piece of kit.
However, to keep things in perspective, it only cost £1 and it’s just a cable. I don’t lose any sleep over it.
Maybe some of us worry that using a third-party accessory might somehow damage our precious gadgetry, heeding the warnings against unbranded accessories in our instruction manuals.
There are certainly savings to be made when it comes to going third party. As well as HDMI cables, we’ve also looked into ink cartridges before, which can be a fraction of the cost of the official products. So if you’re happy to forego named brands, you can save some serious cash.
Do you tend to lean towards first or third-party tech accessories? Or have you ever regretted scrimping on a third-party piece of kit?