Cheaper off-brand TVs aren't always a great deal

Consumer Reports

Some TVs from lesser-known brands, such as the Haier LE55B1381, have not been top performers in our tests.

Some TVs from lesser-known brands, such as the Haier LE55B1381, have not been top performers in our tests.


MORE AT CONSUMERREPORTS.ORG

If you're buying a new TV over the next couple of months, you can expect to see a lot of promotional activity focused on price—especially as we get closer to Black Friday. You may be tempted by a model from a lesser-known brand, especially if it's priced well below comparable major-brand sets. But getting the cheapest set for the money doesn't always turn out to be the best deal.

If you check out our latest TV Ratings, you'll see that the highest-rated sets in each screen-size category are almost always from one of the major brands. TVs from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have consistently earned an excellent score for HD picture quality; other models from these brands have been at least very good. Vizio TVs have also typically also done very well, with either very good or excellent picture quality and a lot of features for the price.

The new batch of Ratings also includes TVs from lesser-known brands, such as Coby, Haier, Insignia, Magnavox, RCA, Sanyo, TCL, and Westinghouse. Some of these brands—Insignia, Maganvox, and Sanyo, for example—have been somewhat inconsistent performers; some sets have done well enough to earn a Recommended designation, and a few have even been CR Best Buys. But other sets from these companies and other secondary brands haven't fared as well.

While few sets these days earn "fair" or "poor" grades for high-def picture quality, even a "good" score is below average, as most of the sets in our TV Ratings have very good or excellent picture quality. We believe the ability to deliver a consistently clear, sharp picture is one of the fundamentals for a TV that will serve as the main set for your family. It may not be as important in a secondary set for another room of the house, where it won't be watched as critically.

(See also: Is the iPad too heavy?)


Consider reliability and repair
There are some other things to consider with off-brand TVs. One is how easy it is to get the TV repaired in a timely manner. Major brands typically invest in parts and service networks, so there's a greater likelihood that you'll be able to get the TV serviced by an authorized repair center. (Try explaining to a seven-year-old that he can't watch "Pokemon" for a month, because the TV had to get shipped across the country for repair and wait for parts to arrive from China.)

Once again, most major brands do well in our surveys, with only 4 percent needing repair on average. Although some secondary brands had reliability records comparable to the major brands, one—Westinghouse—was considerably more repair-prone than most. But note that several off-brands brands simply don't sell enough TVs to get captured in these reliability surveys, so we can't report on their reliability.

Finally, consider the manufacturer's warranty, which could be shorter with an off-brand TV. Most of the TVs in our Ratings carry one-year parts and labor warranties. But a few secondary brands, including Coby, Magnavox, and RCA, have shorter 3-month labor warranties.

We all like to get a great deal when we buy something, and TVs are no exception. But getting the right TV for your needs will ultimately engender the greatest satisfaction, especially if you plan to own the set for a good number of years.

If you've purchased a TV from a lesser-known brand, let us know if you've been satisfied with your purchase, and whether it's been repair-free.

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • The internet is now officially obsessed with Ryan Gosling’s sister, Mandi Gosling

      It’s no surprise that all eyes were on Ryan Gosling at the 2017 Oscars this past Sunday. But apparently there’s someone else…

      Hello Giggles
    • An American man who claims to be the rightful King of England is demanding his throne

      LONDON — A man from the US has taken out a giant ad in The Times claiming to be the rightful King of England. Allan V. Evans from Colorado, US, says that he is a descendant of a royal Welsh line from the 3rd century. The ad, shown below in a tweet, says that Evans is "a direct descendant of an unbroken primogeniture line legally documented since the 3rd century in Great Britain and registered in the Royal College of Arms." It goes on to describe generations of lineage, starting with a claim that Evans is the descendant of Cunedda Wledig, the founder of the Kingdom of Wales. Evans is giving "legal notice" to all of his relatives, according to the ad, and in 30 days plans to claim his "royal historic

      Business Insider q
    • WATCH: Kellyanne Conway Addresses Kneeling on Oval Office Couch: ‘I Certainly Meant No Disrespect’

      Kellyanne Conway spoke out about the couch controversy and offered an explanation as to why she was kneeling on the Oval Office furniture. On Monday, Conway was photographed kneeling on an Oval Office couch and browsing her phone while President Donald Trump met with leaders of historically black colleges and universities. When asked by Dobbs about the “deplorable hypocrisy” and the “venom of the left” regarding the photo’s backlash, Conway blamed an unnamed journalist.

      People
    • Fallen Navy SEAL's widow receives standing ovation during Trump's address

      As she stood in the gallery of the House of Representatives Tuesday night, Carryn Owens, the widow of fallen U.S. Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, got emotional. For nearly two minutes, lawmakers from around the country attending President Donald Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress, gave her a standing ovation as she teared up. Ryan Owens' father, Bill, as well as Sen. John McCain, have reportedly questioned the president's choice to conduct the raid and McCain called it a failure, an assessment Trump rejected.

      Good Morning America
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • The 'forgotten Kennedy' — Rosemary Kennedy — lived a real-life horror story

      The greatest tragedy of the Kennedy family was not the deaths of John or Robert — it was the horrific fate of their sister Rosemary. Take a minute to mentally prepare yourself for what you're about to read, because it's disturbing as hell. Ready? The odds were stacked against Rosemary literally from birth. According to Kate Clifford Larson's book Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, when her mother, Rose, went into labor on Sept. 13, 1918, the nurse on duty tried to stall her progress by forcing her knees closed because the doctor was with other patients and the nurse didn't want to deliver the baby herself, even though she was trained to do so. The baby was forced to remain in the birth canal

      SheKnows q
    • Georges St-Pierre Will Challenge Michael Bisping in UFC Return

      UFC president Dana White on Wednesday revealed via SportsCenter that St-Pierre's first fight back in the UFC would be a challenge for the belt. Only, it won't be in the welterweight division that St-Pierre once dominated. When St-Pierre sets foot back in the Octagon, it will be opposite UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping.

      MMA Weekly
    • Judge: Casey Anthony may have killed her child by accident

      Former Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr. on Wednesday said he believes Casey Anthony may have killed her daughter by accident, that she tried to quiet the child with chloroform and simply used too much. It’s a theory, he said, and if jurors had come to that conclusion, they might have found her guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. Anthony was charged with first-degree murder after her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, disappeared in 2008. Anthony was charged with first-degree murder, and prosecutors asked for the death penalty, but a jury in 2011 acquitted her. Perry presided over the trial. In a phone interview Wednesday, he did not find fault with the verdict but said evidence showed that

      Orlando Sentinel q
    • A Twitter employee making $160,000 a year says he's only scraping by in San Francisco

      In the San Francisco Bay Area, even a six-figure salary can make tech workers feel poor. A...

      Business Insider 45 min ago
    • Casey Affleck Breaks Silence About Sexual Harassment Controversy

      The actor's victory on Sunday night was met with some criticism from those who felt Academy voters were overlooking unsavoury allegations from Affleck's past. In a new interview with the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts native finally addresses the controversy, which stems from accusations of sexual harassment levelled against him in 2010. Affleck has denied any wrongdoing, and the lawsuit, brought by two women who worked with him on the 2009 film I'm Still Here, was settled out of court.

      Refinery 29 UK
    • Rising number of pet parrots in need of forever homes

      In a pet-owning world long dominated by dogs and cats, parrots often fly under the radar. But just like their four-legged friends, there is a huge need for adoption - especially for an animal that can easily outlive its owners. “A lot of people don’t know it because the parrots are not a very publicized type of pet,” said Renee Quimby, director of the Parrot Adoption Education Program in Minnesota. “Cats and dogs get a lot more attention.” Quimby’s parrot rescue in Lino Lakes currently has about 30 birds in its care. A visit to the program can get a bit noisy, especially since these are animals known for their chattiness. Mostly they sqwuak, but sometimes they talk. “Lucky, over there, was taught

      Fox News q
    • Durant hyperextends left knee; Warriors to bring back Barnes

      WASHINGTON (AP) — Kevin Durant has a hyperextended left knee and the Golden State Warriors are preparing for his absence even before knowing how long he could be sidelined.

      Associated Press
    • Widow of Slain Navy SEAL in Tears as She Gets Standing Ovation at President Trump’s Speech

      The widow of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen received a standing ovation and the biggest applause of the night during President Donald Trump‘s address to a join session of Congress on Tuesday. Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy Special Operator Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens, had tears streaming down her face and looked to the sky as the president spoke about her husband, who was killed during a raid on al Qaeda militants in Yemen on Jan. 28. “We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens,” Trump said.

      People
    • The 15 Most Delish Foods At Magic Kingdom (16 photos)

      There's more to The Happiest Place on Earth than Mickey pretzels (though they're pretty epic, TBH). From Delish

      Delish
    • Kellyanne Conway White House Couch Controversy Highlights ‘Double Standard’

      Kellyanne Conway has responded to “couchgate.” After a photo with her feet tucked up underneath her on the couch in the Oval Office while the president met with the heads of the country’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) sent the Internet fully ablaze, the senior adviser to President Trump has offered up an explanation for her pose.

      Yahoo Style
    • Fleeing driver launches into air

      A truck hit spike strips at 115 mph, sending the vehicle sailing through the air.

      ABC News Videos
    • Colorado Teen Allegedly Found with Rodeo Star Ex-Girlfriend’s Body After He Shot Her in the Head

      A Colorado teen allegedly found with the body of his ex-girlfriend in the back of his truck has pleaded not guilty to murdering her, PEOPLE confirms. Tanner Flores, 19, appeared in court in Larimer County, Colorado, on Thursday to enter a plea to his first-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping charges, a Larimer District Attorney’s official tells PEOPLE. Investigators allege that Flores shot 18-year-old Ashley Doolittle in the head and then drove hundreds of miles with the rising rodeo star’s dead body.

      People
    • Ryan Gosling’s Sister Almost Upstaged Him at the Oscars: What to Know About Their Tight Bond

      Good genes clearly run in the Gosling family. Ryan Gosling caused a stir on social media when he brought along a blond beauty as his date to the Oscars on Sunday rather than his longtime partner Eva Mendes. Not long after Twitter users began asking “Who is that?”, it was revealed that Ryan, like many other celebrities, had opted to bring a family member to the big night: his older sister, Mandi. Despite the 36-year-old actor’s film La La Land winning six awards, Mandi stole the spotlight from her Oscar-nominated sibling — thanks to her golden gown and good looks.

      People
    • 'Dancing With the Stars' Season 24 -- See the Official Cast Photos!

      See the first pics of all the celebrities and their pro partners ahead of the show's premiere March 20 on ABC.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Chicago mayor slams Trump over remarks about city's murder rate during congressional address

      Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed President Trump Tuesday night for his remarks during his joint address to Congress about the Windy City's murder rate."We have repeatedly made specific requests of the administration for greater law enforcement integration and resources; a higher priority placed on federal gun prosecutions; and funds restored toward mentoring and after-school and summer jobs programs that have proven to be positive alternatives for our young people,” Emanuel said in a statement following Trump's address. ...

      Good Morning America