Element ELEFT325 Review$229.99
The ELEFT325 is surprisingly more than just a cheap TV.
With all the red, white, and blue flag-waving boxes you see lining store shelves, you'd think Element TVs were cropping up in the golden fields of the Midwest: Just picture the burly men in overalls, riding shiny green tractors through swaying rows of hearty, sun-splashed TVs. True, the Minnesota-based company is currently the only one of its kind with a US manufacturing plant, but for now, it only uses that plant for assembly of its larger displays, in attempt to save on shipping costs. Why didn't your 32-inch ELEFT325 (MSRP $229.99) get the stars-and-stripes motif? Because it was made in China, with all the other small Element TVs.
Expectations for this little TV weren't great, yet testing was not without some happy surprises. With the ELEFT325, you won't rocket into flashy third dimensions, or smartly surf the web via Wi-Fi (motion-sensing wand in hand), making clever social media posts all the while—but if none of that interests you in the first place, this TV should suit you just fine.
Discount TV hit with ugly-stick
When a TV doesn't even break $300, don't expect any razzle-dazzle like chrome or gravity-defying pedestals. The ELEFT325's brushed trim is moderately attractive, but its flimsy plastic stand is just irritating, easily collecting nicks and greasy smudges. And no, the chintzy thing doesn't swivel—we're lucky cheap plastic like this can even hold a TV upright. You could forgo the platform altogether, since the TV provides holes for mounting, but the necessary bracket is not included, and a 32-inch TV would probably look pretty dinky up on a wall anyway.
Footloose and feature-free
The modern couch potato has so much to choose from. So many of today's TVs offer 3D movies, web browsing, wireless photo sharing with smart phones, and much more; this Element offers nothing of the sort.
The ELEFT325's menus, while legible and fairly user-friendly, are visually very outdated. With the click of a button, the interface appears on the screen, obscuring the TV's picture entirely, and divides itself into six parts: Picture, Audio, Time, Setup, Lock, and Channel. Beyond the simplified equalizer—labeled in terms of Bass, Treble, and Balance—the somewhat effective Surround Mode, and the USB port for playing MP3s and JPEGs, there is little else to do with this TV, other than to stare at it with your eyeballs.
Frailty, thy name is contrast ratio.
A quality picture for an affordable price
The ELEFT325 isn't the flashiest TV in town, but for such a small sum, buyers could do far worse. This is a TV for the tech-tired. Buyer description: Endless controls don't make your eyes light up, they make your heart pine for the heyday of the joystick. Okay or maybe you're just broke and you live in a dorm.