I'm not much of a shopper of white goods so when I saw Courts having a promotion during the Hari Raya festive period, I went straight to their main store in Tampines to have a look.
There were the usual brands like Mitsubishi, LG, Samsung and Fujitsu. The System 2 Inverter aircons were consistently priced at around $2000 or more. I didn't want to spend too much and was instantly enticed by the China brand, Midea, which was much cheaper at $1339 (includes installation and 2 years warranty). Do note that what Courts are offering now is different from what I bought. The outdoor unit is the same but the indoor units are of a different model.
I searched online for reviews but got nothing. I figured if I paid about 40% less than the other more established brands, I would get my money's worth if the aircon can last at least 5 years. The aircon only has 2 ticks for energy efficiency. I'm not that bothered about the lack of ticks since I used the aircon for about 2-3 hours at night to cool down the room and then switching on the fan. Besides my sensitive nose can't stand cold/dry air.
21000 BTU is quite decent for the price too. I told my mom that I'm getting a China brand and they were like, "What? Never heard before... can last meh?" I told them I'm getting the extended warranty which is still cheaper than buying the Jap/Korean brands... If the new aircon konks out after 5 years, then I'd just get a new one :D
I paid in full = $1339 (aircon system with 2 years warranty) + $219 (extra 3 years warranty) + $29.90 (delivery charge)
The sales guy told me that I may need to pay extra $130 if the existing condenser unit brackets are old or cannot fit the new one. Installation and removal of the old system is FREE.
I had to wait for about a week for someone to come down to inspect my parent's place. According to the technician, they can still use the old trunking and the metal brackets so no extra charge... I think I should have gotten some discount since they don't have to do any cabling or trunkings!
Another week later, the installers came down and took about 2 hours to fix the aircon. I was at work when they came and was excited upon returning home to try out the new aircon!
Quality wise, the piano/glossy-white Midea looks quite decent! I thought the LCD white light showing the temperature setting was a nice touch. It produces a nice (faint) glow and acts like a night light. Great if you have kids who are afraid of the dark. The sound coming from the aircon system is barely audible so if you need some sort of white noise, you'll have to turn on the fan.
The remote control is fairly basic and plastiky but easy to navigate. The LCD screen has a green backlit. Too bad the buttons are not backlit too... I did find the manual rather poor... for example, there is a button which shows "SLEEP/FRESH"... while I know what SLEEP is, the manual didn't explain the purpose of FRESH other than for me to press the button for 2 seconds to activate it... duh... the LED/FOLLOW ME button was another mystery... apparently, if I press the button for 2 seconds, the FOLLOW ME function will detect the location of where I'm holding the remote control, measure the temperature and try to match the temperature setting... e.g. if the aircon is set at 24 degrees celcius and the temperature of where I'm at is 26 degrees celcius, the aircon would then automatically works harder to lower the temperature from 26 to 24... did it work? I didn't bother trying...
So far, the aircon works as advertised. It gets really cold despite setting it at 24 degrees. Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. If it can last 5 years without any major issues, then I will give the brand a Highly Recommended score. Of course, regularly servicing would be required to make the system last longer and work more efficiently so don't skip on it. If you are still not convinced after reading my review, then just go ahead and spend that extra $$$ for the established brand. At least you have the right to be pissed off if doesn't work as well :D