Insignia: Mark of the Least
By Brendan I. Koerner
I trust I'm not alone in dreading my semi-regular trips to Best Buy. The haphazard selection of products can be truly maddening, and many of the blue-shirted sales clerks need to get with the program. Don't get me started on the nightmare that was Christmas 2003, when I ordered my girlfriend's digicam online then tried to pick it up at a Best Buy outlet. In the time it took three different "sales associates" to locate my Sony DSC-P32, I could've built my own. Out of toothpicks and bubblegum, MacGyver-style.
Best Buy's been suffering the consequences of its skeeviness as of late, however, as it scrambles to keep pace with Target, Wal-Mart, and Costco. Let's face it, America's a pretty lazy nation, and if we can pick up a progressive scan DVD player while simultaneously purchasing a five-pound bag of Doritos, heck, we'll do it. So Best Buy has to compete on price, and that means pushing its low-end, in-house Insignia brand ever harder. Just last week, the chain announced a whole slew of new Insignia dreck that'll be ready for the holidays.
The upshot? If you've got a cheapskate uncle who knows you're into gadgets, expect some of the following goodies come December. Should you curse your fate, or is "Insignia" synonymous with "low-end quality"? An answer (of sorts) after the jump. PLUS: More surplus goodness!
Before I sat down to tap out this column, I did the requisite check of what the Gizmodo-ers have previously written about Insignia. Turns out that it hasn't exactly been a favorite topic of discussion; there was a matter-of-fact news item when the brand debuted last October, then nothing really since (except for a brief shout-out in a previous Low End Theory). Makes sense, as the brand isn't designed to excite us gadget nerds. As Best Buy vice chairman Brad Anderson quipped when introducing the brand, "We're trying to go wherever there is a value proposition." In non-execspeak, that means, "Yeah, it's cheap-ass stuff made by contract factories. You wanna fight about it?"