Anyone foolish enough to avoid buying no-name Taiwanese electronics in favour of the big brands had better think again. Sony and Toshiba have both leaked plans to farm out TV production to factories there.

Sources in Japan say that the two giants will outsource almost 4.5 million LCD TV sets to Taiwanese manufacturers this year.

Good company

Three million of those are accounted for by Sony's choice to work with Hon Hai Precision Industry, which also makes iPods, iPhones and Intel motherboards.

The remainder of the massive order is going from Toshiba's own factories to Compal Electronics, which already makes laptops for Dell, HP and Toshiba itself. Most sets are likely to be in the 30-40-inch bracket, where price competition is fierce at the minute.

Cost vs quality

The move comes as the market for flat-panel TVs is becoming increasingly difficult for all manufacturers due to price cutting in the face of high consumer demand.

Among the major Japanese players, however, Panasonic and Sharp continue to build everything themselves in a bid to push technical innovation to the limit.