Wiring & Other Necessities
The stuff you're going to need with your gizmo
The connectors and other peripheral equipment required to make your equipment go are often purchased as an afterthought to your main consumer electronics needs. It's not often someone goes out to buy a specific surge suppressor because they read it was really cool and they've just got to have it. Usually items like surge suppressors, battery packs, cables, wires and sometimes power conditioners, isolation transformers or backup systems are all purchased after having bought the really cool gear.
Connectors and accessories are the very items sold at the highest markup of anything you can find at the local Best Buy or Circuit City. They want to sell you Monster brand cables as badly as they want to sell you that extended warranty. It helps to know what you need, exactly what standards of cables will give you marked improvement in audio and video performance, and what cable manufacturers are trying to sell you snake oil.
Cables are probably the single biggest source of misinformation in consumer electronics. Outright lies and unproven criteria are used to sell expensive cables. Nobody wants the cheapest interconnects between their components, but there is no reason to pay a premium. Improvements are surely gained by stepping up to different cables, but only if you graduate to a greater standard of interconnect, such as S-Video to Component on your HDTV which will give you a huge improvement in image quality. But stepping up from standard issue component cables to component cables made from some special, rare mineral designed to cut impedance and increase image clarity has all the symptoms of urban myth.
Power conditioners are another area of great misinformation. The belief that your household AC power is hurting your hi-fi performance is a common claim made by purveyors of expensive power conditioning products. But little of what they do is measured by any empirical numbers. Surge suppressors however will serve a valuable function in the average household. You should learn what to look for in surge suppression and get exactly what you'll need for your household power needs.
There are several other add-ons to your gear that will help you make your gizmo experience easier and tailor it to your personal needs. Learn to separate fact from fiction with your cables and accessories.