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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My brother's 27" Sony Trinitron tube tv died a couple weeks ago and he went on the hunt for a new, relatively inexpensive HDTV. He wanted a screen in which a letterboxed image was no smaller than what it was on the 27". Though the Sony died only recently, the geometry has been off for a while, and he has been missing out on a lot of sports and talk shows in HD with it.



After much searching, he settled on an Element 37" 720p LCD from Circuit City for $499. It has 2 composite, 1 s-video, 2 component, 1 hdmi, 1 vga, and 1 coax rf input. All inputs are on the back at a slant aside from one composite input on the right side, and the stand comes with a cable organizer to keep things clean. The remote is not backlit and is quite plain, but the button sizes are good and are placed appropriately. The set is entirely flat black, including the baffle, and does not call any attention to itself. It is also offered in a silver color if that floats your boat. The stand does not come assembled to the display in the box and requires four screws to be affixed. A phillips screwdriver is included.

Initial picture out of the box didn't seem accurate, and like many tvs, a bit torched. There was corner light bleeding initially as well on a completely black screen, but luckily I can report this has gone away after 2 days medium use. I calibrated the picture using a THX optimizer and by eye - all I can really do for him while I'm up here on vacation, and now things are looking pretty good. The set allows you to adjust the standard brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and hue - additionally, I'm glad to report it also allows you to individually adjust the R, G, and B levels. There is an option to adjust gamma between low, middle, and high, and noise reduction between low, medium, and high as well.

This set is capable of putting out a ton of light, it is one of the brighter LCDs I have seen, and while the black level is nothing to write home about, considering how bright the set can be, the "apparent black level" is actually a little bit better than I was expecting. It would have been nice to have dynamic backlighting, but for $499, one has to temper their expectations. Response time is listed as 8ms - the only blurring I can see is with poor quality standard definition, high definition is very smooth, including football games. Watching HD like Jay Leno tonight, the picture is very pleasing - it's clear for me to see that this very inexpensive LCD is a step above very inexpensive LCDs (for their time) from a couple years ago.

Standard definition from 3' away is largely channel dependent. One channel can look bland and pixelated and another can look sharper and more vibrant. On the whole though, SD channels look a bit washed out, same as with almost any HDTV.

The speakers on this set are placed below the display and are front firing. This takes up more baffle space, but when you consider that most people who buy a $499 tv aren't going to be using a discrete sound system, it's better that they took up more space and went front firing instead of looking slick and taking up less space with smaller, downfiring drivers. Nothing to complain about from the sound of these speakers when watching tv - the volume can actually get quite high. You are definitely shortchanging your dvd experience with just these tv speakers however, but if you've never heard a real multichannel surround system, you'll probably fine this sound acceptable.

This set shines with HD, and at $499 for 37", I would definitely recommend it if you happen to find yourself in a spot like my brother was - in need of an inexpensive HDTV, not super about things like black level, and no need for multiple digital inputs.
 

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A Office Depot Store near me was closing, and an Element 37" set was marked down to $479.99 plus tax. I wasn't sure about about the Element brand, so I searched around a bit and finally decided to get it. At this price it's quite a rare deal. From your description it sounds like the exact same set, model number ELCPO371.

I've been using it pretty heavily for about 3 weeks now and overall I'm satisfied. I did notice a little light at the corners when the screen is black, but I haven't tweaked the settings yet. I'm using the built-in "Cinema" picture setting since that is what many online forums recommend for lifelike color. The default settings on LCD sets are often so bright that all the colors look like "day-glo" paint.

I don't have a HD DVD player yet, so I'm just using component inputs 480p. DVD's look good at 480p, but HDTV broadcasts in 720p are noticeably sharper. (So I can see freckles and stubble on celebrity faces better than ever before - ah the wonders of technology. :rofl2:) Football games in HD are quite an improvement.

The built-in speakers as you say, typical of most TV's. I am running the digital coax out into my budget level 5.1 surround system. For some reason, broadcasts that claim to be Dolby 5.1 are only recognized as Dolby ProLogic II by my receiver. No big deal, since the surround sound is way better than the tv speakers anyway.

I like it so far, my only concern is how long an off-brand like this will last. I have tossed out my share of busted $40 DVD players over the years, so I hope a $500 TV will be more dependable.:praying:



After much searching, he settled on an Element 37" 720p LCD from Circuit City for $499. It has 2 composite, 1 s-video, 2 component, 1 hdmi, 1 vga, and 1 coax rf input. All inputs are on the back at a slant aside from one composite input on the right side, and the stand comes with a cable organizer to keep things clean. The remote is not backlit and is quite plain, but the button sizes are good and are placed appropriately. The set is entirely flat black, including the baffle, and does not call any attention to itself.
 
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