Best Off-Brand Televisions
Big-Brand-Name does not always equate to best picture quality.
Cheaper Off-Brand-Name does not always equate to inferior quality
or poor picture quality. We look at a sample of the top off-brand
televisions avaialble today.
The 42" Westinghouse was the most affordable 1080p TV on the
market six months ago. Available at Crutchfield.com
Likewise, the 32" Westinghouse HDTV LCD is a great television;
probably better than the Tatung for an off-brand television.
The main problems surfacing in customer review forums are;
- The monitor has many technical issues
- A poor interface, a very dis-organised menu system
- Very low quality black.
- Wesinghouse's customer service - seems to be equal in quality,
or lack of it.
Vendors often speak loudest - Best Buy no longer carries Westinghouse
But there are also good reports of Westinghouse. One happy customer
wrote that they purchased a 27" LCD TFT Westinghouse for less
than $700.00 with shipping, and has not had a single problem. And
if they did, one could not argue with a 5 year Unlimited in Home
Warranty and 24/7 Tech Assistance.
Other Good Points:
- The tuner - is elegant; there are enough HDTV
channels until the market heats up.
- The plugs - are excellent for feeds from almost
everything, although there is only one port of each except composite.
That suits most average users.
The Not So Ugly
Others have also found Westinghouse a good quality option for
Westinghouse LCD computer displays are getting good reviews. PC
Gamer magazine, who are rigorous in their hardware ratings, recently
tested the Dell 3007 WFP-HC, HP LP3065 and the Westinghouse LVM-37W3.
The Westinghouse got an "Editors Choice Award" with a
rating of 90%. Next rated were 83% and 84% respectively.
The Westinghouse was 7” larger and $300 cheaper.
The question seems to be whether their LCD TVs are equivalent to
the quality of their PC monitors. One reviewer purchased both the
22" Westinghouse LCD computer monitor and the 32" LCD
television for a total of $650, and is “more than happy with
both”. That’s less than most people pay for just an
LCD. They are more than happy with the HD picture quality.
Olevia Flat Panel TV’s
Olevia 32" Flat Screen TV retailing at around $700 is a well
featured off-brand option; more so than some known brands. The picture
quality appears to be its most revered feature.
Olevia 27" also has great picture quality in either the TV
mode or computer resolution.
The audio quality does fall below the line a bit and the remote
control has some smaller buttons in the hidden access that are hard
And for future compatibility, the Syntax Olevia 32" LCD has
upgradeable firmware feature.
OLEVIA also make flat screen LCD TV’s; such as Insignia for
Overall, the appeal of the Olevia LCD is that it allows customers
to enter the LCD market without going into debt. Buy Online at buy.com
Olevia - described in customer reviews as being almost Sony quality,
at a much better price. Olevia seem to provide as good in person
customer and technical support at no extra cost as the TV, which
makes it even better.
Currently, you can buy a Olevia 32 inch with builtin ATSC tuner,
1080i, and HDMI for less than $600.
Insignia appears to provide good value, albeit not as good a picture
quality as Sony. The three main review issues we found reported
- Menus - are not intuitive (you cannot jump
directly to a single one of the seven feeds/connections, you have
to cycle through them all. In comparison, Sony allows you to select
a feed or even disable unused connections.
- Resolution - Although supposedly a high resolution
device, when connected to a computer it is restricted to lower
resolution of 1024x768
- Screen Size Management - Does not auto-detect
widescreen DVD’s. You need to cycle through all the options
to select the correct format. Even then, there is no mode that
does not either distort the picture aspect ratio or crop part
of the picture. Sony auto-detects, and fills the screen perfectly
without any loss of picture.
An Insignia 32” will cost around $500 at Circuit City during
Not good quality picture, in spite of many service calls. We decided,
no more investigation was needed.
Once an entry level, cheap brand called Curtis Mathis. Years later,
after millions of dollars in advertising, Curtis Mathis is on the
front shelves. They offer a five year warranty, and seem to have
Available at Costco
Most brand televisions source their components from the same suppliers
as off-brand. Ultimately, when something goes it comes down to the
quality of support from the vendor and the warranty period. Maxent
is just a re-badged and de-card-slotted Panasonic. Its a great TV
at a bargain price! One customer who received a Maxent television
that was DOA, due to poor shipping handling, had a great service
experience from Maxent. They were immediately sent a replacement
BEFORE returning the broken one.
A Sharp Aquos LC32D41U for around $ 849 provides a picture quality
equal, if not better than Sony. Available from Ultimate Electronics.
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