Are "derivative" TV models a good buy?

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If you’re on the hunt for a discounted TV during the holiday shopping season, you may come across some model numbers you haven’t seen in our TV Ratings (available to subscribers) or anywhere else, even from major brands. These TVs are known as "derivatives," and they generally differ from the standard models in a manufacturer's line. Because the derivative sets are lower-priced, they typically have lower specs and lack some features found on standard models. There are several reasons why manufacturers offer these sets. One is that it allows them to hit specific retail price points during promotional shopping periods, something they couldn’t do with standard models. This lets bigger-name companies compete on price with lesser-known secondary or tertiary TV brands without disrupting pricing for their standard models. A company may also use derivative models to get their brand into a new channel of distribution—say, a mass merchant such as Walmart or a warehouse club like Costco—without ... more
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