Q. I’ve been looking at the Black Friday sales coming up and I 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? — Marnie, San Antonio, Texas.
Marnie, that’s a great question. During holiday sales, such as Black Friday, companies such as Insignia, 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.
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, $99, and a comparably-sized (and featured) TV from a big brand is $199 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. (And if the set has any issues, you won’t lose much if you have to junk it.)
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