Q. I often see TV manufacturers that I’ve never heard of selling sets for what seems like really low prices. I’m tempted to buy one, but I’m a little nervous about their quality. Is it safe to buy a TV that’s not a name brand? — George, Salem, Oregon.
George, that’s a great question. Companies such as Seiki, Element, Haier and Sceptre often advertise TVs at prices far lower than comparably-sized sets from name-brand manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony and LG.
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The prices are irresistible, particularly if you are shopping on a budget, which most of us are. But before buying, you wonder if a company is relatively unknown, could it truly produce a TV that’s less expensive but still be of top-quality?
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Here’s my rule of thumb:
If you are buying a larger-screen TV, say one 40 inches or larger, I would recommend that you stay with a name-brand company. The tried-and-true TV manufacturers have devoted years developing a reputation for reliability and quality and, consequently, are more likely to invest the extra time and money to ensure that the set is top-shelf.
That’s not to say that a lesser-known brand can’t manufacture a very good TV; many do. But, generally speaking, I think you’ll find a name-brand TV manufacturer will produce a larger-screen set that offers a better picture than a no-name brand. And if you’re spending hundreds of dollars, or more, on a TV, you want to be sure that you go with a brand that’s stood the test of time.
Now that said, there are times when buying a less expensive TV from a no-name brand makes sense.
For instance, if you’re buying a smaller-screen TV — 32 inches or less — it might be wise to take a chance on a set that’s less expensive than a comparably-sized TV from a big brand. With a set 32 inches or less, you really don’t see much difference in picture quality in a name-brand TV compared to a no-name brand TV. The screen is so small (relatively) that the picture is going to be about the same.
So if a no-name brand TV is selling a 32-inch set for, let’s say, $169, and a comparably-sized (and featured) TV from a big brand is $259 or more, well, give the less expensive TV a try. You might save a lot of money and get the same picture quality that you would from a name-brand TV.
Of course, before buying, read what customers and reviewers are saying about the no-name brand set. But if it appears that people are mostly positive about it, then go ahead and buy it. You’ll save some money.
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— Phillip Swann