You are not going to find a (decent) set of top loads for under $1500. Go to Lowe's, Sears, etc, do some shopping around.
Whirlpool is the best, but Whirlpool also now makes Maytag and Kenmore.
GE isn't bad.
Samsung isn't bad, but takes forever for parts, and is a PITA to get a repairman for.
Frigidaire sucks ass, they also make Kenmore Elite.
LG also sucks ass, there is no long term repair history for them.
As for the funny smell in the front loads, if you leave the washer door cracked open just a bit, the residual water will evaporate.
Front loads use ~70% less water, a lot less electricity (they spin out so fast, the dryer only runs for 25 or 30 minutes), and they wash your clothes better.
Any other Q's? BTW, I work at lowe's, selling appliances.