Choice Tests

Reporter: Helen Wellings

These state-of-the-art scientific tests at Choice uncover what's unsafe, defects in quality and performance, which brands rate best ... and worst - results that largely determine the products Australians end up buying ... or steering clear of.

Chief tester of strollers at Choice, Chris Barnes, has set up this 64 hour durability test equivalent to 320 km of travel ...

"A wear and tear test to see if the wheels will fall off, will the nuts and bolts shake loose." Said Chris Barnes

And a tip test to rate ability to mount a curb, sorting out the best from the worst.

Choice's Scott O'Keefe is testing 12 leading TV brands and lesser-known labels. The controls of these LCD and plasma screens are set the same to allow a comparison of picture and sound quality, ease of use and energy consumption.

"Picture quality - it's the whole gammit, so we've got a series of discs in both DVD and BluRay that we run through with various technical tests. They're going to test the processor that looks after handling the images in the TV and that can make a huge difference." Said Scott O'Keefe

Testers rate ... accurate, bright, punchy colour, but not so bright that detail's lost, ...and TRUE skin tones.

"Skin tones have to look natural. You don't want people to look sallow and pastey." Said Reporter and Scott

And contrast between black and white - black should be black - LCDs or the newer energy efficient LEDs tend to have better blacks.

"This one over here looks quite grey against this one which is an LG. That's right. Some TVs have got much better blacks and the blacks are detailed so that you can see detail in people's dark clothing." Said Scott O'Keefe

"Over here, which is a Chinese one, called the 'Changhong' you can see quite a bit of pixelation. That's noise in the image and TV's have noise suppression in them. We've had disappointing TV's and they tend to be what I like to call the bottom tier so the lesser known Chinese brands." Said Reporter and Scott

And technical problems will be magnified on the new big screens.

Rob Nelson of Harvey Norman says 3D didn't take off, but now there are giant laser beam screens, Smart TVs for web browsing, and ULTRA-High Definition.

"Shoppers are looking for large screen TVs. So, the old days it used to be forty-six, fifty, fifty-five used to be the mega-screen size. They're buying seventy-five, eighty-four inch TV's on a very regular basis now. Eighty-four inch as it says there gives you four times the definition of full HD. So there used to be two million pixels or dots on the screen, this one has eight million dots on the screen." Said Rob Nelson

"Rob, what's the better technology? Is it LED or plasma now? LEDs are the best TVs we really think. The colours that you get on these TVs are magnificent, the definition, the clear lines are really magnificent. The other thing about LED TV's you can make them very, very slim which people will really like and you use a lot less power with these beautiful LED TV's." Said Reporter and Rob

So BEST brands ... our experts agree.

"The newer brands that people are not familiar with, brands like Chang Hong, like Skyworth, they're not in the same league as your traditional brands like your Sony, your Panasonic, your LG, your Samsung." Said Scott O'Keefe

"I think there's a place for the Chinese brands but we're very focused on Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic .... the value for money is very, very good and the backup in support from those companies is outstanding." Said Rob Nelson

Choice's Tom Godrey says tests show, with the more expensive brands you pay for style and extras, but not necessarily BETTER performance or safety. So cheaper can be as good or better.

"When it comes to buying a stroller, price is not necessarily a good guide to quality." Said Tom Godfrey

"You can get a fifty dollar stroller that will pass all the safety requirements. Now it won't have all the features, it might not be as comfortable and it certainly won't look as classy... um... but for getting the job done they can be good enough." Said Chris Barnes

"Make sure it conforms to the latest safety standards and really, if you're going to buy a second-hand stroller, you need to make sure that it does conform to the latest safety standards because you don't want to put your child at risk." Said Tom Godfrey

www.choice.com.au