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Should you buy a cheap TV from Currys or Argos brands?

We find out if store-brand TVs can offer the same quality as the big brands for hundreds of pounds less

For every LG or Samsung TV there’s a Bush or a JVC that offers similar features at half the price. These TVs are unique to certain stores. You won’t find JVC TVs anywhere other than Currys and you’ll be hunting for the rest of your days if you try and buy a new Alba or Bush TV in a shop other than Argos.

These big retailers either own, or have the exclusive rights to sell, these brands in the UK.

Names, such as JVC, Logik, Alba, Bush, Technika and Polaroid may ring a bell. Think of them as the TV equivalent of Tesco Every Day Value produce or Asda Smart Price groceries. They look the same as the big-brand alternatives and they do the same thing, but in the back of your mind you suspect they may not be quite as good.

That may be a fair assessment of baked beans or tinned tomatoes, and you won’t waste too much money if you find out your assumptions are accurate, but what about a TV that costs hundreds of pounds? Is a 4K store-brand TV fit to use the same electricity as an LG one, or is it nothing more than a terrible imitation hoping to lure people in with the promise of top-tier specs at a budget price?

TV reviews – see how JVC, Bush and other store-brand TVs performed in our tests.

Currys and Argos TV brands vs major brands

If you’re in Currys eyeing up a new TV, there’s not much to go on other than the list of specs for each model. Do cheaper TVs from JVC, Alba and Bush have feature parity with pricier big-brand sets or do you get more tech for your money on a Samsung or LG TV?

  JVC LT-43C888 LG 43UK6950PLB
Price £349 £549
Screen size 43 inches 43 inches
Resolution 4K 4K
Display type LCD LCD
HDR formats HDR10, Dolby Vision HDR10, HLG
Freeview Play Yes Yes
Access to smart apps Yes Yes
Tuners Freeview HD, satellite Freeview HD, satellite
Freesat HD No Yes
HDMI inputs 4 4
HDMI Arc No Yes
USB ports 3 2

There’s not much to pick between these two TVs, but one costs £200 more than the other. On paper then, the JVC TV is tempting. It’s not as stylish as the 6950, but it’s hardly an ugly telly. The bezel is narrow and the base isn’t a million miles away from what Samsung was doing a few years ago.

Is it only the brand name then that separates these two TVs? Or is buying an LG TV over a JVC TV the same as choosing a Prada T-shirt over a Primark one? They’re both essentially the same thing, but you would expect one to have better stitching, materials and craftsmanship; is the same true of TVs? You would hope so, otherwise you’re paying a premium for nothing.

‘Is buying an LG TV over a JVC TV the same as choosing a Prada T-shirt over a Primark one?’

It’s easier to spot the difference between a high-quality garment and a cheaper one. Put a designer T-shirt and a budget one in someone’s hand with the labels covered and most people would still be able to tell the difference. It’s not so easy with a TV.

Our experts watch TVs all day long. They are trained to spot the differences that separate a Best Buy from an also-ran, but they also have time to tinker with the picture settings and watch carefully selected scenes that replicate how you watch TV at home, which watching in a cavernous store with strip lights doesn’t. Buy online and you don’t even have the luxury of watching the TV to see how good it is – the specs are all you have to go on.

Find out what we think of JVC TVs in our guide to store-brand TVs.

Can you trust yourself to choose the better TV?

Currys isn’t alone in having its own brand of TV. Argos owns Bush and Alba. Are these TVs as similar on paper as more expensive sets?

  Bush 49-inch Smart 4K UHD TV LG 49UK7550PLA
Price £429 £749
Screen size 49 inches 49 inches
Resolution 4K 4K
Display type LCD LCD
HDR formats HDR10, HLG HDR10, HLG
Freeview Play Yes Yes
Access to smart apps Yes Yes
Tuners Freeview HD Freeview HD, satellite
Freesat HD No Yes
HDMI inputs 2 4
HDMI Arc No Yes
USB ports 1 2

There are clearer distinctions between the Bush TV and the LG than there are with the JVC model. Fewer HDMI and USB ports are a dead giveaway that a TV is at the lower end, but when it comes to picture quality things aren’t as clear cut. Do the same resolution and the same HDR formats add up to comparable picture quality? Surely a few extra inputs aren’t worth £300. It must be picture and sound quality that set it apart – the two things you can’t really quantify on a list of specifications.

As with buying a TV online, you can’t see how good the picture quality will be on an Argos TV before you buy it, so you really don’t have much to go on. You won’t know if a Bush is inferior until you get it home and start watching something, by which time you may be unable to return it.

The fact that TVs can seem so similar makes our testing all the more important. Online you really only have the specs to go on and in a noisy, bright store it’s all but impossible to get an impression of what the picture and sound quality will be like when you set it up at home. Our experts spend weeks observing each TV we review to be sure that its picture and sound is worthy of our coveted Best Buy award and, more importantly, worth your money.

Head to our store-brand TV guide to see the average score of all the Bush sets we’ve tested since 2016.

Match the store to the brand

  • Alba – owned by Sainsbury’s, which also owns Argos
  • Bush – also owned by Sainsbury’s and sold exclusively in Argos
  • JVC – sold only in Currys
  • Logik – you’ll only find these in Currys, too
  • Polaroid – appears to be exclusive to Asda
  • Technika – this is Tesco’s TV brand
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