The others pretty much spelled it out for you but I will add a little more to the mix. Like the electronics industry the appliance manufactures don't always make the equipment their name goes on, and is almost always true with the lower end market. Even the high end Hitachi has their cheap DVD player made by Fuani but command a better price because of their label and may be the same machine walmart sells for $25 under a different brand.
So for my rule of thumb if your are on the down low for the cheapest it really makes no difference what brand you buy, but the inverse is not always true either - remember Curtis Mathes* commanding huge money for televisions? their only edge was to offer a good warranty on the only part that would almost never fail, people ate it up and paid twice the price for a TV. There were only 3 manufactures of picture tubes in the world then and obviously all other brands used them too. The FCC finally told them to stop it.
For your better appliances always check the reviews, but only from reputable sources like a non-paid consumer reports and not from a highly bribed jdpowers or the likes. Also be cautious of customer based reports and reviews, they are usually too emotional and thus biased - I do read them but be aware that when a product works flawlessly there is very little reason for that person to venture to a review website.
As an example; if GE made one million refrigerators last year and 1% of them had a problem ranging from a bad compressor to a burned out light bulb then ten thousand people would clog google with bad reviews but the 990,000 people who were totaly happy never said a word.
disclaimer - GE and any other names used in this post are fictitious, any resemblance to an actual entity would be purely coincidental.
*they actually made some pretty good stuff.
Last edited by hychesee; 04-05-2009 at 09:32 PM.
Reason: too old