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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.

 

Westinghouse

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 Bad

The main problems surfacing in customer review forums are;

  1. The monitor has many technical issues
  2. A poor interface, a very dis-organised menu system
  3. Very low quality black.
  4. Wesinghouse's customer service - seems to be equal in quality, or lack of it.

Vendors often speak loudest - Best Buy no longer carries Westinghouse TV's.

The Good

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 alternative uses.

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 to press.

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 BestBuy.

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

Insignia appears to provide good value, albeit not as good a picture quality as Sony. The three main review issues we found reported are:

  1. 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.
  2. Resolution - Although supposedly a high resolution device, when connected to a computer it is restricted to lower resolution of 1024x768
  3. 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 December 2006.

 

AStar

Not good quality picture, in spite of many service calls. We decided, no more investigation was needed.

 

RCA

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 product endurance.

 

VIZIO

Available at Costco

 

Maxent

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.

 

Sharp

A Sharp Aquos LC32D41U for around $ 849 provides a picture quality equal, if not better than Sony. Available from Ultimate Electronics.

More In This Series:

 

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