Q. TV Answer Man, I’ve been researching the TV deals for Black Friday and there are some really interesting ones but I’ve never heard of some of the brands like Onn and Insignia. Is it safe to buy a TV with a brand I’ve never heard of? The price is great. — John, Portland.
John, Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy are promoting Black Friday deals on TVs from companies such as Onn (private Walmart brand), Insignia (private Best Buy brand), Sceptre, Seiki and other lesser known brands. The prices seem irresistible, particularly if you are shopping on a budget, which most of are. For example, Best Buy is now selling a 58-inch Insignia model for just $349 while Walmart is pushing a 55-inch Spectre for less than $300. And you’ll see even lower prices as we get closer to the Black Friday weekend.
But before buying, you might wonder if a company is relatively unknown, could it truly produce a TV that’s less expensive, but still of top quality?
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.
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