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.
Layout is offensive, too. Hooking up an HDMI cord involves leaning around to the back of the TV at a very awkward angle, and peering upside-down to get a look at the floor-facing ports. Hanging from this inconvenient ledge are three HDMI inputs, a USB input, a PC audio in, a VGA input, an RF input, and a Coaxial audio out. On the right side of the TV, Analog audio outs and a set of both Component and Composite video ports are much easier to reach. Layout is otherwise very straightforward, with a somewhat elusive LED on the front to indicate activation, and a set of simple TV controls on the right side.
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The ELEFT325's menus, while legible and fairly user-friendly, are visually very outdated.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.
To begin with, this Element produced a surprising total viewing angle of 94 degrees, which is impressive for any LCD. With generous angles like this, your comfy armrest seat at the end of the sofa should come with a reliable view. Colors came as a happy surprise, as well. Other than some slightly undersaturated reds and oversaturated blues, these hues land right where we like to see them, and the shifts from one color to the next are fairly smooth too, so blocky, unattractive transitions won't plague your picture. Other winning performances include smooth, attractive motion and strong audio, leaving us with a favorable overall impression of this unassuming television.
Of course, nothing is ever all sunshine and shooting stars. The ELEFT325's contrast ratio of 945:1 is average, at best. Why do we care? The greater this ratio, the more realistic and immersive the picture. But perhaps the ugliest issue we saw was the TV's miserable screen uniformity; when set to a full black screen, we could easily see blotchy, luminous spots in several corners, and even parts of the middle of the display. Luckily, most content is a reasonable balance of lights and darks, so these blemishes shouldn't regularly pester you, but your horror movies may be the worse for wear. Wrap things up with the TV's limited 720p format, and suddenly you're feeling some 230-dollar-TV drawbacks.
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.
The point is, if you aren't set on sleek new technology, and if you don't have much money to spare, this display is worth a look. True, it bleeds a bit of light and its blacks aren't exactly Batcave-dark. Sure, its plastic stand feels like a Barbie appliance and it doesn't even swivel. But with its surprising and favorable combination of excellent color fidelity, smooth color curves, consistent temperature, great motion, and wonderful total viewing angle, the budget-friendly ELEFT325 (MSRP $229.99) delivers much more than its price tag would suggest.
For the doubtful, for the curious, for the earnest, we present the science page. After hours in a dark TV lab, before a television all aglow, amid the laboring sounds of whirring computers and clicking keyboards, we emerge victorious—data in hand.
TV passes color tests with mostly flying colors
For such an inexpensive model, we are very happy with the accurate colors this TV produced in its color gamut test. That is not to say we haven't seen better, but on the whole, these colors are quite close to the Rec. 709 standard. Blues are a bit oversaturated, and reds have the opposite problem, but neither of these errors impact the viewing experience in a noticeable way. Meanwhile, greens are right where they should be, and the white point is perfectly on-point—a feat which even some high-end TVs fail to accomplish.
A TV's color curves indicate how well it transitions between different colors, as well as how much definition those colors receive; again, to our surprise, the ELEFT325 did a fair job on this test. These transitions certainly aren't perfect, though. Lines are a bit bumpy and red peaks prematurely, which means the brightest reds will lose definition more quickly than they should. But for the most part, these lines are smooth and gradual enough that ugly banding and blotchy colors won't ruin the viewing experience.
Contrast ratio crashes good-results party
Measuring a television's contrast ratio is a great way to find out how detailed and immersive its picture can be. On this front, the ELEFT325 disappointed us.
First, its contrast ratio of 945:1 is unimpressive—and similarly priced budget models have put up better scores. To make matters worse, the definition here doesn't even favor blacks. Whites reach a beaming 311.79 cd/m2 , while the blacks measure up at an anemic 0.33 cd/m2 . That is a shame, because more definition at the medium to dark end of the spectrum is more useful than a blinding white level.
None of this is to say that the ELEFT325 isn't watchable. This is just a dispiriting score that crashed our otherwise happy testing party, and it means the picture is less satisfying than it would otherwise be.
Sure, the dingy stand won't swivel, but with a viewing angle this great, it's not the end of the world.
This viewing angle is spectacular—and not just for a low-end LCD TV. No longer must you suffer at the edge of the sofa, gloating at a family member about the comfort of your armrest seat, but inwardly agonizing over whether it's worth the terrible view.
This little TV offers a total viewing angle of 94°, dwarfing the models in its comparison group. Shove your younger sibling out of the way, hoard your armrest seat, and enjoy the view of your admittedly tiny 32-inch Element TV.
Meet the testers
Former Managing Editor@
Virginia is a former Managing Editor at Reviewed.com. She has a background in English and journalism. Away from the office, Virginia passes time with dusty books & house cats.See all of Virginia Barry's reviews
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email