Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Rise of the Small Brands 162

gbobeck writes "Yahoo News is running a story looking at smaller brands in the marketplace. The article discusses the increase of numbers of people who are choosing to purchase lesser known brands of electronics. The bottom line is the major electronics makers still dominate the market, but collective presence of lesser-known brands has helped keep prices down while boosting product choices."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Rise of the Small Brands

Comments Filter:
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @05:37AM (#14815243)
    The products are perhaps not the cutting edge stuff, but you can rest assured that you're buying a name brand and all the piece of mind that that gets you. Not crap like Akai or Vizio. I'm talking Sorny, Magnetbox, and Panaphonics.
    • Panaphonics? Sorny? Someone's taking the piss, and I'm just afraid that it isn't you...
    • I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it.

      The funny thing is, according to wikipedia "..."no-brand" video cameras have been sold in tax-free areas in the Far East under the name of "Panascanic". In many parts of Eastern Europe brands such as "Panasonix", "Panashiba", "Addidas", "Tonny Hilfiger", "Rebook", "Eila", "Fuma", "Fike" and "Somy" can also be found."
    • Not crap like Akai or Vizio. I'm talking Sorny, Magnetbox, and Panaphonics.

      I once had trouble with my Sorny.

      The physiotherapist fixed it, though.

      Thank-you!

  • Lite-On (Score:3, Interesting)

    by webmistressrachel ( 903577 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @05:49AM (#14815267) Journal
    Lite-On deserve a mention here; at a time when Plextor was the the only writer in town, Lite-On released cheap 32x and 40x CD-Writers which could rip damaged CDs that nothing else would rip or even play. Before long, as prices fell, I was building a Lite-On into every customer's system.
    • That's all I need to know. Will you marry me?
    • They've also managed to release a number of PVRs as well that perform very nicely and at a great price point- they've been partly instrumental in brining down Philips's prices I think; they need to work a bit on their interface, but I'm really happy with my Lite-On
    • Indeed, my lite-on was cheaper than anything else on the market and never broke (I had 3 cd drives broken in the last 5 years).. too bad the cops took it away. :P
    • Is Lite-On really a smaller brand in the marketplace? I've read that there are many brands out there that are merely rebadged Lite-On drives. Also, one time I was adding a CD burner to my Sun Blade workstation. When I pulled the original CD-ROM drive to put in the new one, I noticed that the stock CD-ROM drive Sun was using was Lite-On. I realize that Sun only sells like 2 workstations a year nowadays but I'd think they of all people would contract for a quality component from a larger brand name (large
      • I got an off-brand CD burner at Circuit City for $30. When I got home, I noticed the sticker on top wasn't the original one so I peeled it off and lo and behold there was the original lite-on sticker! When I installed the drive, it even showed up as Lite-On (don't they usually use a different firmware on these rebranded drives to show the manufacturer on the label?). At the time, the Lite-On drive was around $100 so I think I made out well getting a rebranded one for $30. It was a great drive and worked wel
    • I was never very impressed with Lite-ON. Their website is crap, their optical drives sound like vacuum cleaners, and they're not *that* cheap. Go for LG, much better. Really, Lite-ON drives are the noisiest i've heard, by far.
  • ...it's just branded differently. Take Radio Shack for example, all of their stereo stuff called Optimus was really Pioneer. All of their Realistic scanners were really Uniden....yadda yadda..TV's were RCA.

    I'm willing to bet it's just like laptops, only a handful of places make them, and they are customized and rebranded per customer request.

    Hell, i'm sure the same goes for generic food in the supermarket.
    • You're not far wrong on at least some of the generic 'own brand' food; I used to work in a chicken processing plant where the same product was sold as Tesco value chicken as was sold as more expensive chicken- I'm sure it's not far wrong to assume that the same people who make more expensive foods also have lucrative contracts witht the big suppliers.

      Im still not touching their value toilet roll, though.
      • Right. So the chicken you don't care about, but the toilet paper you do. Yes, my friend, you are a true Brit. Don't care what you stuff in your face, but the unimportant stuff... well, that is a different matter.
        • 1. Fuck off I'm not a brit :op

          2. I'm saying that I do care about what I put in my face, and that the Tesco value chicken is just as good as the more expensive chicken out there. There's no real reason not to buy it, as it isn't any different to stuff in shiny packaging.

          There is, however a reason not to buy some of the other 'value' products, like the toilet paper, which has a tendency for structural weakness that isn't very hygenic.
    • Pioneer never made anything for Tandy. Genexxa and Optimus both made really cheap stuff - name one double tape deck with full logic control like on Pioneer's models. Get your facts right!

      There is a lot of OEM stuff out there, but Pioneer do not deserve to be associated with this crap.

      • Pioneer never made anything for Tandy. Genexxa and Optimus both made really cheap stuff - name one double tape deck with full logic control like on Pioneer's models.

        Sounds like you are in deep denial. You are possibly right that Pioneer didn't make Genexxa and Optima stuff, but I'm VERY sure that the same Taiwanese company made components branded with all three names (Pioneer, Optima and Genexxa and I believe Realistic as well). As one reader pointed out replacement parts for some stuff from Radio Shack w
    • There was a time when there was only one manufacturer of Floppy Disks in the world, and all brands of floppy disks were just labels on the product of this one manufacturer (it was a subsidy of BASF, as far as I remember). There also was a time when only three manufacurers built VHS-drives, and all brands of VHS drives were just buying there. As far as I remember, JVC and Hitachi were two of them. In Germany all canned pet food is manufactured by exactly one company, Masterfoods of Bremen. All the brands are
      • Simply because they are made by one company, does not mean that all the products are the same. I am sure that one company can produce different levels of catfood. As for floppy disks, I always thought that you paid for the tests they ran on the media. Cheap floppies - no tests, no guarnatees. More expensive, the more tests they ran and weeded out the dodgey disks.
    • What happens mostly in the food industry is that the 'lesser' brand gets the 'lesser' choice product.

      Food is not an binary product, the quality can vary widely between 'excellent' and 'not fit for human consumption'.

      Sugar is perhaps the simplest. During production you end up with several different crystal sizes. This is a 'good' thing as some industrial uses require smaller or larger sizes. Sugar coating on a cookie for instance is usually far larger then then the sugar that is used inside cake.

      The 'top'

    • I went to best buy and there was this expensive dvd/vcr recorder. next to it was a knock off brand for about 100 less. I opened the vcr door and looked inside. It was identical inside. I could even see a few numbers on the circuit boards and they were the same.
  • Too bad TFA didn't mention anything about the response time or brightness of the other brands. Basically, you get what you pay for. Cheaper brands will have cheaper components and lower specifications than many name-brand companies. Being a non name brand company doesn't help with the cost of manufacturing electronics.
    • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @06:09AM (#14815316)
      Being a non name brand company doesn't help with the cost of manufacturing electronics.

      True. But you realise that there is often a mark-up just because of brand name? There are even manufacturers that have two lines of products, one with the luxury brand and one the "cheapo" brand, whilst the products are essentially the same - the luxury brand just having different finishing and packaging.
       
      • For example (oh how I wish I could find the source for this--ars? anand? I forget. anyone?) Apple's 20" monitor and Dell's 20" widescreen offering (the 2005FP) use the same LCD panel from the same manufacturer--it even has the same part number. Apple: $699. Dell: $549, currently $439, and they add VGA, S-Video, and Composite connectors, plus a 3-year warranty instead of 1 year.
      • Many companies even do this internally. I love my Yamaha receiver, but Yamaha manufactuers two versions of almost every receiver they make -- the HTR line and the RX line. The RX line is usually identical (according to their own FAQ) to the HTR line (some high-end RX product aren't always available in the HTR line). THe difference is price, and who's allowed to sell them. RX is only available from the best dealers. In other words, its a status issue.

        PS, if you want to buy an RX receiver to prove you ha
    • Basically, you get what you pay for.

      I'm sure that's reassuring for you, but it's not even close to being a rule. Cars, DVD writers and the like are often sold under different names to appeal to different market segments, or to appeal to brand loyalists.

      Often, the product is identical except for the badge.

    • Yes, I get what I pay for. And I don't pay for marketing :)
    • Not even close. When it comes to electronics the cost have never had anything to do with the cost of components. The price you pay is what they think you are willing to pay.

      The more expensive brands just have bigger margins.
    • Cheaper brands will have cheaper components and lower specifications than many name-brand companies.

      I'm not convinced that's true. Now I can't pull any references out here, so you'll just have to take this as an opinion, but AFAIK it's not uncommon for cheaper brands to use the same components as more expensive brands, but to have lower markup and other expenditures. Of course, they'll probably cut some corners where the user is less likely to notice from the specs (e.g. controller chips), but on the wh

    • Cheaper brands will have cheaper components and lower specifications than many name-brand companies.

      They MAY, but it does not follow that they MUST.

      Basically, you get what you pay for.

      Correct. And how much of each dollar you spend on that name-brand appliance goes to marketing, brand awareness, and other things that have no bearing on the quality of the appliance itself?
  • by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @05:52AM (#14815275)
    I would be more interested to see how many manufacturers there are. A lot of the smaller brands use the same suppliers and assemble to pretty much the same specs as the bigger brands - that goes for everything from consumer electronics to things like PC hardware. It's kind of like a shirt from The Gap vs a shirt from Structure - they're all made in either the same Filipino sweatshop, or the sweatshop next door, and either way they use the same supplies. And that, of course, is where all the 'fakes' come from.

    Of course, there is always the occassional flair of inspired creativity. I was in Asia recently and brought back a $5 'PolyStation' for a friend as a gag gift. It was a PS1 shell with about 500 NES roms built in - hilarious.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The biggest difference is that the big name brands send a QC manager down to the plant to make sure that everything is to-spec. He's generally a huge pain in the ass to the subcontractor because he forces everyone to work longer and harder than they normally would if he wasn't around.

      On the other hand, smaller manufacturers typically don't do that kind of thing. It's partly because they can't spare a full-time person to spend a whole production run in another country, and partly because they have less swa
    • Apparantly, LG make 50% of all the LCD panels out there. But most don't have an LG name.

      Cars are frequently based on the same floorplan and engine.

      • Cars are frequently based on the same floorplan and engine.

        This is true, just take a look at all news cars - they all look exactly the same. Maybe with a different shaped grill, and some minor changes, but they are all exactly the same. It is a joke.
        • New cars are all designed in wind tunnels for maximum petrol efficiency, and there tend to be very few efficient shapes for a car so they all end up looking the same. I don't think it's got anything to do with having few manufacturers.
  • The internet has made it much easier for these smaller companies to actually sell these devices without having to have massive global production and distribution mechanisms in place. However, smaller volume also means it is MUCH harder to get good reviews on the products. There are web boards, but they can easily be co-opted [penny-arcade.com]
    So is it even possible to find an honest place for reviews of not so mainstream products?
  • We keep seeing examples of how open source software is changing everything and benefiting consumers, but there is no reasonable equivalent in the hardware arena. If the market trends toward closed, DRM-encumbered environments continue, what are we supposed to do? Where does the hardware equivalent of linux stand today?
    • Good, competitive hardware cannot be realistically built at night, in your room, while drinking cola and eating pizza. Good software, instead, can be done with just a computer, a text editor and a compiler. Software is just a written-down idea. Hardware needs money for the parts, the assembly, etc. Try etching a processor on a silicon wafer :D
      • funnily enough, not all that long ago i stumbled across a bunch trying to do just this on the diyaudio [diyaudio.com] site (sorry but i can't find the thread anymore). Interestingly enough the show-stopper was actually in writing the drivers, not the hardware itself. I almost cried when i reached the end of the thread and found it dead.. :( Anyone here wish to revive it?? :)

        oh, the hardware they were trying to design was an audio interface for professional audio.
    • If the market trends toward closed, DRM-encumbered environments continue, what are we supposed to do? Where does the hardware equivalent of linux stand today?

      It is called not buying it, aka boycott. The problem with you americans you don't understand anymore what it means to boycott a product. It means don't buy it so if the HDTV you want uses DRM, and your don't want DRM then don't buy it, encourage other people not to buy it, and if a company asks why you are not buying it say it is DRM. Boycotts do w
  • A few years back at any rate. A Toshiba or other quality brand was still well over £100 but I could buy a 'Yamada' for £30 and it played more disks and had more different types of output than I'd ever seen before....

    Cheap unknown brand = Better in this case
  • collective presence of lesser-known brands has helped keep prices down while boosting product choices.
    And this is news due to why? I am guessing it was produced by a pup younger than I whom just now came to the realizations required to decide that big names do not have a stronhold over price.
    Historically speaking there has always (by always I mean the last 15 - 20 years) been the Everex's, Sager's, Strongarms (you heard me right), Bosers, Magitronics (many times these guys had custom boards built). And in t
    • There really was a Jesus brand? I can see the advertising slogans now. "Jesus - your saviour in consumer electronics" or "Redeem yourself this Father's Day with a Jesus shaver".
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @06:23AM (#14815352)
    Or tin deep in this case, rather. I had my revelation when I opened up an HP computer, only to find that they used exactly (and I MEAN exactly) the same components that were used in a low budget "brand" (you know, one of the kind that gets sued for being labeled "no name"). Exactly the same (crappy) components.

    It's the same with dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves. Brands only slap a nice cover around it, the insides are more often than not just bought, not made by the brand company.

    What you get from a brand name is the service. And considering the service of some brands *coughsonycough*, I'm better off with a "generic" brand. Breaks down just as fast, has exactly the same nonexistant service, but I pay about 2/3 of what that brand name gadget would've costed.
    • While I generally agree, it's not across the board. Some expensive cars have no equivalent "budget" option. Try and find a washing machine that's built as well as a Miele (although you will pay for it). Likewise, BMW. But then, those companies have decided that they'd rather be original and focus on quality, than be a "brand".
    • What you get from a brand name is the service. And considering the service of some brands *coughsonycough*, I'm better off with a "generic" brand. Breaks down just as fast, has exactly the same nonexistant service, but I pay about 2/3 of what that brand name gadget would've costed.

      That's why I actually consider that annoying Best Buy "extended warranty" into the cost of the "generic" brand when comparison shopping against popular name brands. Especially for expensive, relatively new technology like LCD t

  • I worked for a major mid-price consumer electronics company ... the same factory made multiple brands for us, with the only difference being the feature set and the case.
  • It seems to me that traditionally smaller companies worked well by providing electronics that were meant for certain markets, not the "mass-market" type. I'm one of those crazy people who still clings to an audio compenent system (have you tried to buy a stand-alone tuner lately? *sigh*). Those companies have done well in meeting the demands of consumers who want something more than the latest whatever at Best Buy (with rebates, of course). I should think this is where they should focus their market.
    • have you tried to buy a stand-alone tuner lately? *sigh*

      Well in the UK we can still easily buy tuners. Sadly the dollar rate means they'd probably be too expensive for you to import (assuming of course you're from the U.S.A. ?) but you can see a good selection at Richer Sounds [richersounds.co.uk]

      Admittedly most of them are missing Long Wave/Medium Wave/Short Wave etc. (i.e. all the good old bands :) but there's still a good FM/DAB Selection.

      And no I don't work for them but I have bought most of my all black (fuck that cheap s
  • "but collective presence of lesser-known brands has helped keep prices down while boosting product choices"

    I like small brands, but not the ones which want to compete on price. I like the ones who step out of the mass market pricing. Take MP3-players for instance. There are only four major components in MP3 players, e.g. the soundchip, and when you produce one for the mass market, it's about economics and juggling with costs and prices. You end up with an endless stream of MP3-players from companies who bu

    • You do realize that the "sound chip" in an iPod is ridiculously good, right? As in, it already is capable of better sound than most people will ever have the capability of appreciating, because of how it's used.

      Even Sterophile -- and these are the guys who claim that they can hear the difference between various power cables plugged into their amplifiers -- thought it was good. [1] At least when it's playing AIFF files; MP3s throw away too much information to really ever sound good to people listening for th
      • Ah, the golden ear audiophiles who have better ears at 50 than dogs. That will buy dlithium doped cables the diameter of their wrist to exploit the "skin effect", which is utterly neglible in the audio frequency. Who prefer the often horrific distortion of tubes in the service of "perfect reproduction". A perfect complement to the cult of the iPod. Granted, if you are listening to a great recording in a perfect enviroment a reasonably good system which has been constructed according to measurable metrics r
      • You do realize that the "sound chip" in an iPod is ridiculously good, right? As in, it already is capable of better sound than most people will ever have the capability of appreciating, because of how it's used.

        Well, I don't know about the other iPods but my (nowadays slightly dated) iPod Mini sounds pretty bad. So bad that I regret buying it in first place. The bass range is very weak and the sound is just overall "mushy".

        I'm not an audiophile but I can attest that my old MD player sounds definately better
  • 1) Rapid internet word-of mouth. The internet means that there are DVD forums, telling you about which makes are OK, and which are not. Such communication between people with such differing views was difficult before (And often deliberately avoided by advertiser-led print media).

    2) Retail is more powerful, and more "refund-friendly". If you shop at Tesco in the UK, they typically will do a return with no quibbling. So, you know that if it doesn't work, they'll take it back real simple.

    3) Cost of electro

  • My main reason for buying "no name" brands is simple. They usually work better.

    For instance one of my mates had a Sony (Spits on floor in disgust) DVD player which cost him over £ 200 and was feature packed but was fussy as anything when it came to discs i.e. It wouldn't play most DVDRs, it didn't play XVid AVIs, it didn't like MP3s on a DVDR (happy on CDR though), it stalled on scratched pressed DVDs etc. etc.

    In contrast the £ 29 "no name" DVD player I bought from ASDA will have a go at anythi
    • Of course the Sony DVD was junk. It was a Sony product containing moving parts.

      Moving parts = problems.

      Solid-state = fewer problems.

      That's pretty much the way to tell if a Sony is going to be a problem, although buying Sony in the first place is kind of a bad move to begin with.

      Anyway, I have a $150 DVD player/Recorder and a $30 DVD player. Do you want to guess which one plays perfectly, never has any issues and just generally works, versus which one is a pain in the butt, freezes, refuses to read discs,
  • Both my 51cm CRT TV and DVD Player are "Centrex" branded (from china) and work great. My MIDI music keyboard is a Radio Shack.
    My VCR is a Magnavox.
  • Is anyone aware of a site that compares the small name and big name stuff in one place? Also noting which of the small names belong to the big name companies and generally consist of rebranded identical products?

    I know I have dealt with small name stuff that is considerably higher quality than the name brand stuff in terms of durability, reliability, and predictability as far as behaving with the standards. Smaller companies don't have the luxury to foist unwanted crap onto their consumers like the big
    • I've not seen a site which does this. - Normally this kind of information you have to hunt down yourself in the middle of your purchase for X product.

      It would be quite handy though, be nice to know that X television set is identical to my 3200$ Toshiba, etc.

      None the less as tech geeks, we all research almost all of our purchases on the net to the point that we know everything about the product before buying (well I do)
    • The only place I've ever seen that comes close to this are repair manuals and parts directories. Sometimes if you look for a part that fits a certain device (say, a Realistic radio) it will also list that it fits some other brands' devices (Uniden). That's a good sign that the two may be identical and just rebranded.

      Other than that, I've never seen any good centralized repository of information like that. Too bad, because it would be useful. Generally though, at least one of the parties involved in the rebr
      • Other than that, I've never seen any good centralized repository of information like that. Too bad, because it would be useful.

        I'm in the market for a decent stereo/HT system right now, and found audiotools.com [audiotools.com]'s directory of manufacturers last night. It makes for useful reading.

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @08:59AM (#14815766) Homepage Journal
    Besides providing news from many sources the internet also gives consumers many new methods for picking and choosing how to spend their money.

    Just as we no longer have to rely on a local newspaper or broadcast television for information about the world around us we no longer have to rely on salesmen or friends for consumer product advice.

    Another good side is that problems surface faster because of the net. Bad products and companies are spotlighted much faster than old methods. Consumer groups spread information between themselves directly and indirectly about whom to trust and not trust.

    If anything the net is making it easier for consumers to make intelligent choices. Having the information by itself isn't the key, its having access to the opinions of others on how valid the information is that works in the long run.

    On a side note, gaming the system is alive and well and has removed the validity of some sites for tracking how well one place does versus another. I find consistency among many different forums to be a better indicator as to which small companies to trust. (ex: ResellerRatings used to be a great source - but not they are corrupted by too many bogus positive and even negative reviews)

     
    • I bought a Zenith TV (not sure if that counts as a small brand or not, but it's certainly no Sony) because at the time, they were the last American company that made TVs. Anything else would have come from Korea or Japan.

      Oh, and that intelligent choice came about because of an article I read on the internet about the Japanese domination in electronics.
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:13AM (#14815830) Homepage
    This helps put to rest the idea that the U.S. economy can survive (some used to say prosper) by leveraging its established brand names and outsourcing the work.


  • The bottom line is the major electronics makers still dominate the market ...

    There are still major electronics makers that actually make electronics products. I thought most of them had hollowed out to the point that they were little more than a brand name with a sales force. That's pretty much the case in the US anyhow.

  • I want to know who actually manufactures the parts. Years ago, the Compudyne store brand monitors were Korean Design Systems (KDS). Today, CompUSA sells Norwood Micro parts. Who actually makes those? Does anyone know of the Circuit City or Best Buy store brands, and who makes them?
  • "I don't have a good way of judging quality or long-term reliability, so I'm looking at all brands," he said. "And nowadays I believe that most companies have got the quality and technology up to a good level or they wouldn't be in business."

    There's the core problem: lack of buyer knowledge, or at least the lack of motivation for buyers to do some proper research before making a purchase. THAT is why these companies are doing business.

    When I went to buy a new high def TV, I did research into the tech
  • Consumer products (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpc ( 33615 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @11:15AM (#14816613) Homepage
    Generally (there are exceptions) high end comnsumer products are just shiny packages on fairly junky stuff. Low end (or used) Professional stuff is generalyl much better, often cheaper, and usually much better built. Go to a good professional catering shop for pans that will outlast you and are better designed and cheaper than anything in consumer shops. Not available in a range of colours though. Same with audio equipment, cameras and so on. Things that people use every day are just better made.

    Cheap disposable consumer products are great if you want something cheap. But there is no point in Bang and Olufson.
  • As time passes, products have a tendency to become commodities. The important thing is standards. As long as a CD, or broadcast, or music file format is an established standard, just about anyone can manufacture a product that's competitive. But big manufacturers will always try to convince the public that there is some additional value to a product having a big-name brand associated with it. And people being the sheep that they are, they'll succeed.
  • A brand is symbolic promise of a product's utility and usefulness to a customer. That smaller brands are making inroads simply proves that existing "name" (aka market "gorilla") brands are failing their promises to their customers - they are not deliverying value.

    I buy Apple because the name/logo/symbol implicitly and reliably means something about the product experience. I don't buy HP any more (despite working there for 10 years and leaving on good terms) because now their brand implicitly and reliabl

  • You know, consumer electronics didn't have to be commodities. There could be enough differentiation between brands to let the consumers chose one of them, instead of chosing prices.

    But the greed eats everything. I'd be happy to spend another $0.5 to have a motherboard with good capacitors, or another $5 to get a power supply that really resists an electric transient. But the manufactors needed get those $5.5 to themselves, using the hight prices to get highter returns. Well, if they can't sell me some qual

  • Brands like MacGIMP [macgimp.org] and XDarwin [xdarwin.org] have seen a lot of success with zero advertising dollar output. Who would have thought five years ago that you could reach 500,000 software product consumers without having to advertise? It's all in the product positioning and passive brand building methods. The market is pull, now, not push, folks. Just ask CraigsList.
  • Oppo gets raves for their 971 deck from a number of reviewers, apparently keeping up or even outscoring heavy hitters like the Denon 5910, even though the Oppo's price is less than CA state tax on the Denon.
  • I have a Polaroid flashlight, a Sunbeam lavalamp nitelite and a Bell+Howell nose hair trimmer.
  • You absolutely pay a premium for a brand name like Sony or Toshiba. And often the components and factories are one and the same as the "off brands". However, this does not mean the the devices are the same quality! Sony can and often will sit their own QA staff to pick and choose the devices that are the best looking off of the factory line. They pay a few bucks more per unit, but they'll get the best of the product. This doesn't guarantee quality (nor make the off-brands any lesser quality) per se, but

"There... I've run rings 'round you logically" -- Monty Python's Flying Circus

Working...