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Buying off-brand consumer electronics

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / February 13, 2007 / 3:19 PM UTC

What is the most compelling reason for you to purchase off-brand consumer electronics?

Price
Features
Recommendations from friends/family
Best-kept secret
Repackaged under another name
Good reviews/ratings from a trustworthy source
I would never buy off-brand products!
Other

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20" Westinghouse HDTV LCD
by samsterling / February 13, 2007 / 9:54 PM UTC

I bought it through Best Buy, and I usually buy their warranty when I'm dealing with immature technologies or brands. It was also inexpensively on sale around Christmas.

It handles up to 1080i and it's clear and bright. It's also mounted on the wall in my daughter's room. It seems like a nice choice for the size. When I look for the big screen DLP for the family room, I'm tempted to go with the Samsung or the Panasonic, but I haven't been shopping yet.

Sam

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Westinghouse not bad, Rear Projection-Samsung or SONY
by mike0414 / February 14, 2007 / 12:15 AM UTC

the 1080i on a tv that small is too small to notice so thats not a big issue, Westinghouse is not a bad LCD, for the price you really cant beat it, especially if its for a bedroom. I wouldn't put it in my main room but not a bad choice if your not looking to spend too much and aren't looking for the BEST quality. For the rear projection tv, i would go either with a Samsung or a Sony SXRD, if you haven't seen them i suggest you take a look at them. They won't give you the screen door effect of an LCD rear projection(when you get close to one it looks like you are looking through a screendoor) and it doesn't give you the rainbow effect that DLP's do (shows a rainbow around the edges of ppl, words, etc.) those are hard to notice sometimes but once you find it, it will ruin your tv experience. I use to sell t.vs thats why i know about it, i've seen them in person not just online like many people who comment on these things. hope i helped you, if you got questions just ask away.

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Westinghouse have been around for years
by Mr.RumPig / March 21, 2007 / 4:49 PM UTC

Not sure what country you're writing from, I'm guessing the States? In Australia Westinghouse actually started out manufacturing fridges around 30 or more years ago. Down-under, they have a reputation for making stuff that "lasts for ever"

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20" Westinghouse HDTV LCD
by simarikb / February 28, 2010 / 8:22 PM UTC

Designed to fit cleanly and stylishly into your armoire or even on your wall, this deceptively thin combo unit offers such top-of-the-line features as Pixel Direct

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I have purchased off-brand elecltronics

Being in the military has allowed me to travel all over the world and force me to utilize brands I?ve never heard of. You can find brand named products anywhere, but you?ll pay a lot more than you would in the states. Many of those unheard of companies make a very reliable and comparable or even better product. It reminds of me of my mom saying Food Lion cereal is just as good as Kellogg?s, because they all have to follow the similar guidelines.

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Some off-brands = terrific, but most not worth the money
by dlsears / February 13, 2007 / 10:25 PM UTC

I lived in Japan for 10 years and have been living in Taiwan for the past 11 years, so I've bought lots of off-brand electronics, including TVs (but not HD-TVs). Some of the off-brands I've bought have become major name brands, but others just aren't worth the money because they die young. While off-brands should be cheaper because their advertising costs are much lower than those of the big namers, other ways they bring prices down are by using low-quality electronic components and not having a sufficiently high level of quality control. Those are the big problem with off-brand PCs, at least. I don't think that brand-name products are always a better value, but I do think it's necessary to check out the quality of the components when spending so much money for electronic appliances.

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A unknown world
by Francisco Costa / February 14, 2007 / 2:31 AM UTC

I live in Europe and probably some of what we Europeans consider brand names might be unknown to people in the other continents, of course names as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Toshiba, Siemens, Bosch are almost everywhere.
My experience with off brand products is the following:
I've bought a DVD player named Airis wich costed me about 40 euros, it played most of commum formats, DVD-R, MP3, photo CD, you name it... it had one year warranty and after that year it start to have problems with the cd tray, most of the times it was hard to open the cd tray, so i decide to fix the problem myself, surprised i rested when i saw a regular computer LG DVD player inside that Airis DVD box and the problem had to do with the button that wasn't doing the necessary pressure because its really used and abused already.
My point is that sometimes brand names sell they're components to off brand product manufacturers, so sometimes you might get lucky because inside an ugly, no quality box, you might get some good things. So when buying an off brand try to get some advises from someone who bought them already.

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Name Brand Vs. No Name
by PoorJohnn / February 14, 2007 / 2:44 AM UTC

I worked in a retail store chain for years and I found most of the electronic devices we carried were the same as the name brand. We had the General Electric VCR that at that time was a top of the line model. then we had the very same VCR in the Panosonic for about 30% less. There was no difference between them. Back in 1982 I purchaced a Goldstar 13" color TV. A totaly unheard of brand at that time and it played for an hour or two every day untill Nov of 2006 when it just quit. Not a bad record in todays disposable world.

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The off brands
by tmaroun / February 14, 2007 / 9:38 AM UTC
In reply to: Name Brand Vs. No Name

I agree with you; at the rate we're going, the prices for the name brands will continue to drop like rocks. Who really worries about how long something lasts anyway? For the same reason, I never buy extended warranties because I assume that I'll just buy a new one, get better pricing, more features, etc, when the old one breaks down. If I can save 30-50% of the purchase price, it's a no-brainer.

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Off Brand Freeview Box
by Tombo60 / May 1, 2007 / 1:08 PM UTC
In reply to: The off brands

We bought and off-brand Freeview box. It is working fantasticly apart from a minor faults with the buttons sometimes.
I would reccommend the company.

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Polariod LCD 37 inch
by Acmbiz1 / February 14, 2007 / 3:56 AM UTC

I bought this Polariod LCD 5 month ago. It is working fine and the set up and option seem to be good. I have a surround system hooked up to it and that also is working fine. My wife keeps telling me to turn it down.
So far so good.

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Buying off-brand consumer electronics
by wammac / February 14, 2007 / 4:21 AM UTC

Olevia 32"
Samsung quit two days before Super Bowl. Circuit City offered OLevia's 32" model for $650, including tax. Known brands were higher by $300 to $400 and up. Olevia's picture is excellent and its combination of aspect ratios provides non-distorted (minor outerborder cutoff) full screen viewing even when not receiving HD. My one complaint (others may find it a plus) is that the speakers are on the sides making the width some six inches wider than the actual screen.

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Syntax Olevia
by chkstar / February 14, 2007 / 4:37 AM UTC

I purchased a 27 inch LCD TV/Monitor from Syntax-Olevia about a year or so ago. When I bought it I think it was 599.99 with a $200 rebate from Syntax and a $100 Rebate from the Retailer. There also was a bigger unit that had a brighter picture, but it would not fit in the space I needed it. I am happy with it and actually was rather impressed by the amount of Inputs (Analog VGA, Composite video, Component Video and Cable). I have all 4 inputs connected up and can use it for the DVD Player, VHS Player, Computer and Cable TV. The Remote has all the features I need. The ONLY unimpressive feature is the Speakers, they were not good. I took an Unused Computer 3 Piece Sopeaker set, plugged it into the speaker jack and I have GOOD sound with a sub woofer... Gee for the price, I am happy, but it did take a REALLY long 20 weeks or so to get that $200 back from them.

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Olevia / Syntax
by sevenal / February 14, 2007 / 4:26 PM UTC
In reply to: Syntax Olevia

I have two.
A 27 inch hangs in my bedroom. I liked it so much agter two years of reliable use, I bought a 42 inch to hang in the living room. That FPTV
has been in use for several months now. I have been in the Cable TV business for 27 years, and can say this set is 95% of any out there.
Do yourself a favor and buy two for the differance in price.

Cons = I did not get my rebate in a timely manner, but did get it.
The sets have an annoying big blue LED on the front of the set
that is too bright for my bedroom. "Masking tape" no option
to turn it off.Your cable tv remote probably won't program to
it. I had to get a Logitech Remote for both.
Happy shopping

AC

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Off-brands are great!
by CactusLynda / February 14, 2007 / 4:53 AM UTC

I first purchased an off-brand when I saw the 32" Polaroid TV/Monitor on sale for just under $1,000. Reviews were not the greatest, but very mixed so I went for it. I now have for my computer monitor the Olevia 32" monitor/tv for $600......they're both great and awesome pictures. I have both hooked up to other sound systems and they're awesome for computing, tv or movies. Give them a try!

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Today's Name Brands Had to Start Somewhere
by Spacehiker / February 14, 2007 / 5:02 AM UTC

Although buying a known entity is important, too much emphesis is put on buying a name brand when it comes to new technology. Think of so many products you use today and take for granted. They were not always a "name brand".
I just purchased a Vizio 42" LCD HDTV after much research. It looks fantastic in every way and it costs hundreds less than the "name brands". Yes, long term reliability is an unknown, but I believe you can tell which company wants to be a long-term player by how they go to market and Vizio wants to be one of those "name brands" in the future.
What is probably the most annoying are those who buy on "snob appeal". A TV is not a car, folks. May the best value win.

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More on buying "Off Brand" products
by waltherppk01 / December 21, 2008 / 7:48 AM UTC

Yes...sometimes it can be risky purchasing a major appliance at Costco. Or so I used to think. I spent $1,700 in 1998 on a Mitsubishi 36'. It was supposed to be the best think out there. Tweeter told me that when the time came, it would play HD. I spent another $300 on the warranty. After three years, the color is shot. I get it fixed. Works for a week and breaks down again. I am about to get it fixed again, when I happen to take a good look in back. S-Video was the best input it had. This TV wasn't going HD. So I throw it out & spend $1800 on a 36" Toshiba. Definitely better than the Mits. Was LCD. Unfortunately, it wasn't widescreen. It started eating away at me. Now to tie it in...I always was the person who said, "Don't buy electronics at Costco. They're 2nd rate." (And in the beginning, this was kind of true. I would always look in the back and their TVs would have only 1 HD input or no true HD inputs) Anyway, my desire for widescreen became close to an addiction. One day, I walk into Costco, and on a whim, grab the 50" Plasma. I don't even know what model. Doesn't say on my remote or the TV. When I hooked it up to DirecTV and my considerable home theater system, I was amazed. I got a 50" Plasma for $1200. That is the best deal, EVER. It was just as good as any other brand and with the features I got, half the price. Now, if only I didn't spill beer on the remote because I'm having a tough time locating a place in the New Haven, CT area that sells them!

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THE SELLER RULES HERE! -- THE BUYER IS KING!
by miketoast / February 14, 2007 / 5:33 AM UTC

This is a no brainer. There is NO reason to not buy a product from Costco. The product might be a digital camera, it might be groceries. COSTCO has the best return policy in the world. If you buy an off-branded TV, whatever the BRAND or model and if it is not what you expected it to be...... if you feel it is not up to your expectations .... or whatever the reason might be... THEN RETURN IT TO COSTCO.... their return policy is so liberal that you cannot be hurt. COSTCO will accept anything for return, at any time, for any reason. One week, one month, one year....how about 5 years. If you are not pleased.... then return it. You must have your original sales receipt for the refund....so that you can prove your purchase price.

So, if you don't like it for whatever reason.... return it...COSTCO will smile at you and make a prompt refund. Just be sure to fair with them..... don't be a chronic returner and make proper choices beforew you buy... so that you needn't burden yourself or them with frivilous returns or work.

I believe the only exception to their return policy is for COMPUTERS. If you return a COMPUTER, COSTCO ONLY GIVES YOU SIX MONTHS(wow! is that for real) TO MAKE A RETURN. IF YOU THINK THAT'S BAD..... ASK ANY ONE OF THE MAJOR RETAILERS FOR THEIR RETURN POLICY.... and you'll never buy anything again, from anyone but COSTCO !!!!

TO be fair to other sellers.... there are other sellers out there with very liberal and fair return policies..... the writer will be pleased to discuss these with you, also!


.... and they don't argue with you..... they just give you what you want. If you want to hear some horror stories about some national retailers and their policies and attitudes... just contact the writer. I'll tell you a few stories that'll make your hair stand on end!!!

.AND FOR THE RECORD.....I AM NOT A COSTCO EMPLOYEE.... HAVE NEVER BEEN.... AND DON'T ANTICIPATE I EVER WILL. THEY ARE NOT PAYING ME, PROMPTING ME or TWISTING MY ARM. ALL I AM IS A COSTCO BUYER, WHO THINKS THEY'RE GREAT.... and if you buy anything from them and must return it... you'll think they're great, too!

FRANK S.
CONNECTICUT
02/12/07

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IT'S PRETTY SIMPLE REALLY....
by gfoley1 / February 14, 2007 / 5:48 AM UTC

Simply put, let me ask the question: WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO USE YOUR NEW 46" LCD TV? This determines my price and brand, really.

If you are going to use it in a garage, lounge (bar), any public arena, or a kid's room then yes, an off brand is a big bang for the buck -- go with the off brand.

If you are using this in your very nice Den, or living room area, or entertainment area, then go for the upscale top brands -- don't be cheap, it's your life, and this one of your (if not primary) sources of entertainment! I recommend Sony Bravia, a sure winner, but not for the cheap minded! What are you worth?

Good luck

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I struggled with the decision but went name brand
by rungere / February 14, 2007 / 5:53 AM UTC

I looked at reviews and specs - found some very promising off brand plasma TVs for a price within my budget. Then I found a vendor on eBay with open box - mostly shipping damage name brand HD sets.
I have a 42" Panasonic with two very small cabnet scratches at my door for under $900.00. The TV is mounted high on the wall and unless your 7' 11" tall you can't see the scratches which are on top of the set.
It's in, it's working, it was well within budget (wife spend difference on a PC - another story) and I'm happy. Off brand, maybe nex time.

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Off Brand TV Quality
by Ken Bird / February 14, 2007 / 6:06 AM UTC

Like automobiles, if you "rasie-the-hood" of the off brand TVs you will find the same components you find in the high end brand names.The chips, resistors and PC boards are all of the same quality.
Many of the so called off brands are cheaper because they don't have the overhead of the big folks, such as marketing and sales. Because they use off-the-shelf components, they also don't have much invested in engineering costs and many get low cost manufacturing by pooling with some of the big boys.

The only area where they may be weaker is on product support, but many of the retailers can help you with any issues that may develop. Usually if they work well within the first 30 days they are going to perform as designed for a decade or more.

By a retired engineer and marketing person.

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Try name brand alternative sources
by jimj100 / February 14, 2007 / 6:37 AM UTC

I think about off brands this way: "is it cheap enough that if I throw it away in a couple of years I won't care?" If the answer is no, then I tend toward the best name brands. Once I've picked the brand(s) I want, basted on C/Net reviews, specs, etc. I always shop www.refurbdepot.com I found a 15" Sharp Aquos LCD TV for $150 less than Best Buy or any other source. That put it in the same price range as LG or other "off" brands. There are probably other sites that also sell repackaged goods but I've bought many items from refurbdepot and every one has been like-new with full warranty.

My last thought: Moore's law has found consumer electronics. They now fall into the same category as PCs -- every three years or so you'll want to replace them -- they technology change is just too great. So going with an off-brand makes sense -- do you really think you'll have your new TV for 20 years?

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LG LCD HDTV 32"
by rjfitze / February 14, 2007 / 7:20 AM UTC

In my search, I purchased the LG LCD HDTV 32" and love it. I paid about $600.00 less than the 32" Samsung and about $800.00 less than the 32" Sony. I compared the refresh rate along with the contrast. My LG has the same quality if not better than 99% of the name brand LCD HDTVs on the market today. Yes, I will purchase a name brand if the quality is higher and if I want to spend the money.

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closed captioning
by ravic1942 / February 14, 2007 / 7:26 AM UTC

Being deaf, I want to be sure whatever TV I have have good quality of closed captioning. This is where well-known brands shine, Sony and well known brands do very well on closed captioning on HDTV. The lesser known ones are problematic; in fact some of them are downright bad - put captioning in middle of TV; or worse still, the receiving portion is iffy - sometimes it gets captioning and other times not - weak reception or something. I did want to get a lower priced flat-panel HDTV, but ended up getting a 42" Sony HDTV flat-panel cuz they provide excellent closed captioning. So if y'all consider a HDTV, and not growing younger - lot of elderly folks often turn on closed captioning - so with CC and losing hearing, helps them better follow the conversation.

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TV's, Cameras, Radios, HiFi and similar ar not computers
by antonaa / February 14, 2007 / 7:34 AM UTC

This site has nothing to do with TV's, Cameras, Radios, HiFi and similar . They are not computers and therefore have nothing to do with this site anymore than washing machine kettles or irons.

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Where is the tech support?
by coffeecan / February 14, 2007 / 8:16 AM UTC

I bought a name brand computer and an off brand flat panel monitor.
The monitor gave me a problem. I tried to contact their tech support. There was no phone contact available. There was a very very slow (72 hours) e-mail contact. It was very discouraging. I returned all elements to point of purchase and bought all matching components with a new computer and new flat panel monitor. I have not had any problems and tech support is available if needed. From there on, I research the recommendations of the critics and try to buy the best of what I can afford. I have had less problems that way. I have to consider my time and my lack of frustration into the equation of buying new stuff. I have owned 17 computers plus monitors and have found that matching components of reputable companies work best for me. Nowadays, I include Samsung and Sharp in the catergory of reputable products. It took them a while but they made it. Of course I include many of the majors in the reputable catergory too. Plus I think I have been lucky with some of the products that I have purchased but by sticking to those products I have about always received good tech support. But being as that I have a little more money now and don't have to depend on just one computer for my work, I do occassionally purchase off brand name products to to try new things. Thanks.

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Vizio
by mrbillaaaa / February 14, 2007 / 8:25 AM UTC

In reply to the member who said if you bought an off brand you must be Blind....I must be that..I bought a 37 inch Vizio from Walmart after seeing it at Costco..I did a lot of shopping in person and internet. In comparison the Sharp 32 in. was my intentions (CNET and In-store) hands down a great product..BUT when you compare Everything... especially the price($997); compared to $1400; This is a no brainer; I have had this for 4 months with HD DirectTV..All that see it is in awe...The sound is so good I didn't connect my home theatre unit. I recommend it very highly.

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VIZIO 47 INCH LCD
by jbthemm / February 14, 2007 / 3:20 PM UTC
In reply to: Vizio

RECENTLY BOUGHT THIS 47 INCH LCD FROM COSTCO WITH A $250 COUPON, WHICH BROUGHT THE PRICE DOWN TO $1649.00. THE TV IS EXCELLENT, I THOUGHT IT WAS WELL WORTH THE PRICE. I HAVE 4 HD SETS IN THE HOUSE, THIS ONE IS IN A VERY BRIGHT FAMILY ROOM (6 WINDOWS AND AN 8 FOOT SLIDING GLASS DOOR)AND THERE IS NO PROBLEM SEEING IT CLEARLY IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. NO GLARE WHATSOEVER. THE WINDOWS ARE UNCOVERED AS THIS IS A NEW FAMILY ROOM UNDER CONSTRUCTION. GOTTA HAVE A TV WHILE I WORK!! I ALSO BOUGHT A 32 INCH VIZIO FROM COSTCO, TOOK IT BACK, THE PICTURE QUALITY WAS INFERIOR. THAT WAS PROBABLY A DIFFERENT MANUFACTURER. I READ THAT VIZIO IS A SMALL COMPANY OF ONLY 55 EMPLOYEES, SO I KNOW THEY DO NOT MAKE WHAT THEY SELL. BUT THEY SELL AT A LOWER PROFIT MARGIN TO JUST A FEW RETAIL OUTLETS TO KEEP COSTS LOW. MARKUP IS AROUND 10 % VERSUS 25% AND HIGHER FOR NAME BRANDS. THE BIG ELECTRONICS COMPANIES DON'T WANT THEM ON THEIR FLOOR, TAKES AWAY SALES FROM HIGHER PROFIT TV'S. ONE OTHER GOOD THING ABOUT VIZIO IS YOU CAN BUY THE EXTENDED WARRANTY FROM THEM UP UNTIL THE LAST DAY OF YOUR FACTORY WARRANTY. CHGECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE, THE PRICES THEY LIST ARE CURRENT COSTCO PRICES

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ACER 32" LCD HDTV -- Perfect fit for us.
by gerryhand / February 14, 2007 / 8:52 AM UTC

This television has great sound and a superior picture quality to most that I have viewed in the Big Stores. It was rated quite high when I checked it on the internet against other sets too. I chose this size because our viewing room is smaller and we watch this television from a distance of about 7 feet. A 42 inch seemed to be not as clear (focused) at this distance. The screen is not shiny and window relections are not a problem like they would have been with a plasma set. They joy is I purchased it from the electronics store I regularly deal (tech support) with and the Christmas price was under $900.00 Canadian.

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Konka 32" HD LCD TV
by sevenrx / February 14, 2007 / 9:07 AM UTC

My daughter bought a big Dell Plasma TV which has a beautiful picture, which got me to thinking about the new generation of TV. I had sort of looked at the different ways to go, but right before Xmas I saw the Konka on display and checked the performance which was about the same as everything else and the price was hundreds lower than everything, so I thought as a beginners TV. Why not? I'm happy to say it is one of the best buys I've ever made, and I've learned a lot of new terminology, and ways of connection. The picture is great, I'm partially deaf, so I've been told the sound is good, lol. Who ever heard of Konka?

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