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The Great Digital Television Debate


Go-Reviews revisits the Plasma TV and LCD television debate, in searching out the best brand and off-brand options.

Comparing the display units on display on the showroom floor is not reliable. You need to know where their feed (source of signal) is coming from; cable, DVD player or a HDTV broadcast.

In this series we look at:

Brand Vs Off-Brand TV's

If you want a quick purchase and comfort of a well known brand, then that’s the one for you. If you are willing to take the time, and are interested in learning a bit more about the technology you are investing in, then you can save hundreds and get a lesser known brand TV that's just as good as the major brands.

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.

Sony, Toshiba, RCA and Sumsung have been known to fair poorly next to an unknown brand.

Big Brands

The most well known flat-panel TV brands are: Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Panasonic, and Sharp. Amongst the big brands the preferred choices appear to be:

Best Plasma

  1. Panasonic
  2. Pioneer

Best LCD

  1. Sony
  2. Samsung
  3. Sharp


Off-brands flat-panel TV manufactures include: Vizio, Maxent, Westinghouse, Syntax Olevia, and Polaroid. These brands all offer flat-panel TV at a much lower price compared to major brand names.

Only buy televisions you can get customer reviews on, so if you like to be first off the block with anything new, pay for the known brand, or expect more problems.

What puts people off buying off-brands is the big “unknown”.

  • Reputation: There is no history or reliability factor behind these brands.
  • Picture Quality: Whilst some off-brands have terrible in-store picture quality, many appear equal to, if not better than some of the major brands.
  • Design: From a design perspective, the aesthetic design of some off-brands look well crafted and actually look better than some big brand models.

The choice between brand and off-brand also depends upon the screen size. If looking for a television in the 25"-35" range, then Westinghouse LCD’s may meet the mark. But in large screen sizes, quality becomes more of a factor.



Reputation is important in any consumer industry. Sony, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sharp, RCA, all have solid reputations and people trust the brand. When you spend 2k on something, it’s that important. But remember, Sony was once an unknown brand as were Panasonic, Daewoo etc.

Reputation of the seller can be just as important as the manufacturer.

Most low-cost stores like Wal-Mart and Costco carry a range of branded and off brand options, so they are a good starting place.

And don’t be too hasty in claiming brand name changes. Many believe LG, was previously the low end Goldstart brand. In reality, LG is a very large multi national company that produces many products, including appliances, cell phones, LCD and Plasma televisions.

LG stands for Lucky-Goldstar. Back in the 80s, they had two product brands: GoldStar for the US market, and Lucky for the domestic Korean market.

Goldstar was just a small part of their very large product line. LG supposedly dropped the Goldstar line because it did not meet with sales expectations. They realized making better quality products over "cheaper" ones is better business. And they are right. Reviews show LG televisons match the high of quality of better known brands like Sony, Panasonic, Sharp.

In Korea, LG and Samsung are major rivals, and considered more or less equivalent.

In the USA Samsung and LG were previously both low-cost options, each focussing on different technologies. For example, Samsung is bigger on DLP, while LG is bigger on LCD projection. Both make plasmas and LCD panels.

Many of the big Japanese and European brands outsource their manufacturing or components to other companies. Sony's Grand Wega LCD projection sets were initially made by LG, and Sony's main line plasmas were made by Samsung. (This does not apply to the XBR.)

More In This Series:

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