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Deal: 50-inch Element Plasma - $899.99
Element Plasma PLX5002B
January 28, 2008 | by Gordon Jones
Don’t let the name throw you, this is a full-featured set - perfect for the game room or starter home theater.
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Posted by Shannon  on  01/29  at  12:00 PM

The fact that you guys would even present a tv like this so it could be confused with a viable option for a consumer begs the question: “Why do I subscribe to your newsletter?”.  ‘Good’ sets from real companies are already rediculously cheap (cheap is the correct word) and offer no margin for dealers, do we really need to talk about 2nd or 3rd tier products?

Posted by Gordon Jones  on  01/29  at  12:27 PM

Shannon, if you can find another 50-inch plasma for under $900, i’m all ears, regardless of maker. The point of this article, is two-fold: 1) to highlight an insanely low price for a set of this size/type. i know a lot of people looking for a big cheap TV (my brother-in-law for one). they don’t have $3k+ to spend on the TV i would suggest for them, but it’s not my choice. there is a market for these sets and like it or not, they have their place; 2) products/prices like these have an affect across the board. look at Vizio - many snub their nose at the brand, but they are in fact doing quite well and i suspect playing a role in bringing all prices down. that’s good for me, you and my brother-in-law.


So you can rest at night, i’ll only be posting these “Deal” stories as the mood hits and the products present themselves. please feel free to disregard.

Posted by Kenny  on  01/29  at  12:54 PM

Gordon,

I would have to somewhat agree with Shannon on this one. Your magazine is full of high end products. Now you throw in info on a Element 50” Plasma? There are no less than 30 brands all coming out of the same P.O.S. plant in China. Whether it is Vizio, Maxent, Dynex, Element, ILO, and the list goes on and on these are simply DISPOSABLE TV’s and are not worthy of even a mention in your publication. Most of these cannot even be repaired in the US if it breaks. Would you or your ‘Brother in-law” buy a new car knowing it couldn’t be repaired just because it is cheap? Your brother in-law should take the 900.00 and apply it as a down payment toward a real TV. Even a Samsung or LG is a much better buy for just a few hundred more. Where does your brother in-law live? As him to call Vizio and ask them how a person goes about getting a 2 year old set repaired? If you are going to promote this type of low end stuff on your website you might do some investigating on the facts other than just the price. You should probably let everyone know to be sure and keep the box because a Vizio must be shipped to California for repair if you don’t happen to live there. I think it probably in your best interest to promote product that can be taken to the local TV repair shop if and when something goes wrong.

Kenny

Posted by Shannon  on  01/29  at  01:05 PM

Mr. Jones,
Thanks for your reply.  But if you really believe that the mean price for a 50” flat panel is ‘$3K+’, you really need to get out and about.  The high end of the consumer market might be desribed as ‘$3K+’, with a ‘reference’ product like the new Pioneer Elite at $3,500 (I realize there are some other more expensive, higher performance products i.e. Runco that are pricier than this).  But even at $3,500, these sets are much cheaper than NTSC big screens we sold only five or six years ago.  1st tier, real companies with real warranties and real dealer support (and good performance), like Panasonic and LG and others, are at $1500 - $2000 and below for a 50” plasma TODAY.  If your brother-in-law is someone whom you care at all about, and his budget is really only $900, I believe you should advise him to save his money a bit longer and invest in a real product from a real company (possibly purchased from a real dealer who is vested in his community), or wait until the better products decline in price to reach his budget threshold.  In the long run, he will surely SAVE MONEY by proceeding in this fashion AND have a product that has enjoyable (if not enviable) performance. 
...
And I would love to hear why you believe rapidly declining flat panel tv prices (beyond the point they aleady have) is good for anyone, or at least anyone who lives in the USA, aside from the couple hundred US based VIZIO employees.  Do you really believe that the overal quality of these low priced sets is increasing or decreasing?

Posted by Gordon Jones  on  01/29  at  02:24 PM

Kenny - you bring up some great points. our magazine (and the website to a lesser extent) does indeed lean towards the higher end. and it’s funny because we get more than a few comments and emails complaining that we only show $50k+ systems lined with platinum and operated by a staff of butlers ;)

we realize there are a lot of users/consumers out there that don’t fall into this category (me), and while they may enjoy reading and gawking at these home theater marvels, they also want news about products they able to afford. are these “deal” items the best? no way not even close. but when someone, again my brother-in-law, wants a 50-inch for under $1k (he does) all i can do is show him what’s available and let him decide if it’s worth the gamble. this TV in particular was highlighted primarily because it was so out of the normal price range and says something about both the industry and, if you think about it, the implied quality of the item.

btw, i do like your term “DISPOSABLE TV”, it’s spot on. and rest assured, if i see a Kuro, Bravia or Runco listed at a good price, i will certainly let everyone know!

Shannon - as to whether i love my brother-in-law or not, well, no comment ;) believe me when i say he wants what he wants and has $1k to spend. to be honest, i don’t think he will notice the difference and you can’t give advice to someone that’s not listening. Element, Vizio, and the others in his arena and are all going for his money. i have no problems with that. should we not allow them to make these TVs? and yes, i do believe if one company lowers their prices (regardless of quality), the others will react. be it lowering their price to compete, adding features to compensate, or even branding themselves as a higher tier product, they do react.

i have to say i’m a bit surprised that this article got any comments at all. i hope you can take these deal posts for what they are - notable prices on home electronics. not product reviews (unless i happen to the item already) and not endorsements by eh or me. just an eye on where the prices are going.

Posted by Aman  on  02/01  at  02:00 PM

I don’t know why everyone is bashing element TV. Just because it does not cost 2-3K….does not mean it is not worthy of buying.  If you actually look on circuit city web site it has many good reviews. 

I just purchased element 50 inch tv last night, although I did not get the $899.99 deal…I did get price match for 999.99.  After 2 weeks of research I could have bought a 42 inch for the same price but this seemed like the best deal.  All of the sony/panasonic and some other brands that were 1K had same reviews as element.  They might have a 1 or 2 extra features then the element but overall if you evaluate all the 1K plasmas mostly everyone complaints about sound quality and rest is same. 

So I decided to go with a 50 inch and the result.  Its awesome, although it is my first plasma so I might not be looking at it they way you guys are looking at it.  But I have it connected to PS3 with HDMI and its beautiful.  Sound can be better if you add home theater system otherwise it does have several options to enhance audio from TV.

Its easy to say sony, samsung, panasonic are better quality but they also increase in price.  If you are like me on a budget I think this is the best deal right now.  50 inch plasma for 1K.  Overall I would give this TV 4.5 rating since it can improve on audio and add some extra features for enhancements….

Posted by got tiby  on  02/01  at  05:49 PM

I’m buying it next week

Posted by Steve  on  02/02  at  12:11 PM

Wow—there’s quite a bit of snobbiness out there towards off brand t.v.‘s.  I have a Sony 40’ Bravia and a 37” Sharp Aquos and I just picked up 50” 1080P Vizio plasma, which cost less than my sharp.  The picture on it is beautiful.  Is it in the same league as a Kuro, definitely not—but I am a video nut.  Ask the average guy on the street and he can’t tell the difference.  I think there is a real place in the market for products like Vizio.  If it breaks in 6 years, I’ll have gotten my money’s worth out of it.  If you’re really concerned, you can always buy an extended warranty from a company like Warrantech for $150 bucks and they’ll replace the T.V. if it can’t be repaired for 4 years (which is better than any of the big names provide).  I see now downside to going off brand, unless you’re a total snob or a true videophile.

Posted by Shannon  on  02/04  at  02:32 PM

Steve, you gotta be kiding me:  “Ask the average guy on the street and he can’t tell the difference. ” there.” If you have seen an Elite television on any source (ANY SOURCE), there’s no way you could possibly believe this.

Posted by Richard  on  02/04  at  08:36 PM

Okay. I got in on the 899.99 deal with 3 years of no interest financing and it seems well worth it.  I had the old big box projection 55”  1080i Mitsubishi which ran great for 6+ years, but it was time to find some more room in the family room.  This Element did the trick.  I actually had both running at the same time on the Directv HD box and the Element blew away the Mitsubishi in color contrast and clarity.

I agree that the speakers are pretty lousy, you can do some adjustments by using certain sound selections built in to the TV, but hooking it up to the surround sound solves that problem,

My only other complaint is that I noticed a very occational fuzziness on low light (dark) scenes and a close up of the persons face.  Don’t know yet if its a problem with the TV or Directv delivery. I could see little dark black/grey boxes trying to form in the extreme dark areas of the scene. Day scenes, sporting events and movies have a fantastic picture.

All in all, I am glad I saved over 1000 dollars compared to Panasonic or Samsung.

Posted by Kenny  on  02/07  at  03:16 PM

Richard,

A couple of points here.

#1 - It makes no sense to compare a plasma to an older CRT based Rear Projection. Of course ANY plasma TV is going to look better than what you had. I respect the fact that at least when you bought the Mitsubishi you purchased a product that was at the top of it’s class. Out of curiosity did you consider the “Apex” line of CRT Big Screens that were available at Sam’s, WalMart, and Circuit City at that time? Most people didn’t look at these low end Chinese products several years ago.
#2 - What you are seeing on the dark scenes is no fault to the signal or Directv box. This is the inferior processing power of the TV. Low end panels all have this problem. After all they all are manufactured out of the same low end plant in China. You would be much better off with even an LG or Samsung which are made in Korea. This would offer better picture performance, less likely to need repair, and much better support if something does go wrong. Even an LG Plasma has a 2 year manufacture warranty and can be repaired in over 600 locations across the US. By the way an entry level LG plasma retails for about 1400.00.

We seem to have a trend in this country of excepting the myth that a TV is a TV and brand makes no difference. Those who believe this are in for a shock. Just to make sure I just called Element service support. I live in Missouri and would be required to ship my broken TV to Florida for service if needed. This would also include a Polaroid or Hisense brand as well. These are all the same company. I guess if you live in Florida you can just put this TV and the truck and take it to them. Shipping a 50” plasma from Missouri to Florida is abot 250.00 one way. Shipping is of course not covered by the manufacture. There is also one note on the warranty info that reads “IMPORTANT Be sure to keep all packing materials in the event that a repair is needed”. Sure ! I bet all of you happy Element fans are keeping your boxes huh?

Bottom line is this. For those of you who have already purchased this product I will cross my fingers for you. For those who are considering these low end TV’s as an option I would strongly reccommend that you look into the brand and there service procedure and policies before you purchase. I believe it was Shannon that recommended that you buy from a local company that will support you instead of a big box retailer. He is right in this regard. Very few if any specialty local retailers will carry this type of disposable product. It is not that they can’t. Why would they. How much are you going to love Circuit City after you throw a few of these away.

Do your homework folks. You get what you pay for. You wouldn’t buy a new car even if it was half price if they told you NOONE within 8 states could repair it.

I will leave you with 2 points to live by.

#1 - If is sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

#2 - Never buy your electronics where you buy your Eggs or CD’s.

Kenny

Posted by Domenic  on  02/07  at  03:28 PM

WOW, quite a few posts on this set.  I would have to agree with Shannon and Kenny in regards to what they are trying to help you guys understand. I think that what we are seeing here is a temporary solution to the others TV needs. 

Everyone is all hyped up about there low cost TV, but will the same hold true when there is repairs that need to be done or when it quits working?  I understand the need to be one of the proud flat panel owners out there, and I am, but I did not fall for the Element, Vizio, Polaroid, ect.  I waited until i could afford a set with a proven track record, a set that i knew where it was manufactured, and a set that i knew i could get serviced locally if the unfortunate happened.  Can the same be said about the Vizio, Polaroid, or in this case the Element?  I think not.

Posted by Kenny  on  02/07  at  05:12 PM

Aman made a reference to the “Good Reviews” made on the Circuit City website. Are you serious? Are you not aware that Circuit City chooses which of these reviews to post? Try it sometime. Try writing a review for a product and claim that you didn’t like it and give it 1 star. See if it ever shows up and if it does how it magically disappears.

Posted by April  on  02/07  at  05:53 PM

I just recently bought a 50” plasma and agree with the comments about researching before buying a product that’s a part of everyday life.  A good and reliable television is as important as all our other major appliances, electronics, vehicles, etc that we use everyday.  I looked at Wal Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, and 2 local specialty stores before making a decision.  I feel confident that the LG 50” plasma I purchased is a good quality tv, it comes with a 2 year warranty, and repaired locally if problems do occur.  I looked at Vizio, Element, and Olevia televisions and was uneasy to find out there are no repair centers locally.  It got me wondering if there was a reason for that.  I love a deal just as much as the next gal, but if I’m going to invest in a product that’s much lower in cost than it’s competitors, the deal is probally too good to be true.  And whether I spend $899 or $1800 (which is what my 50” costed), I want assurance that my money is well spent and not going to waste.

Posted by chip  on  02/17  at  01:54 AM

I install plasmas and lcd’s for a living.  I bought the element 50 inch plasma, and for as many screens and different models i see on a daily basis, i must say this is a good deal.  Always research anything you buy especially electronics.  The specs of the element arn’t over the top but there not bottom end either.  The biggest mistake people make when writing reviews on lcd’s and plasmas is by going by what there picture looks like with unproper video feed or connection.  Please don’t complain about any set when your running coax cable or just video or s video from a basic box.  I don’t care what model or brand you buy, if you don’t run hd service to your set, then your not going to see your picture quality.  It all depends on your bank roll, your expectations of your set, and how technical you are.  All in all, for 1000.oo bucks this is an amazing plasma.  When video settings are adjusted properly and hd source is connected with hdmi cable, the picture is comparable to quite a few brands and models twice it’s price.  As far as lasting the long run, I couldn’t tell you yet.  But if you wanted something that’s gonna last you 20 years you should of bought an lcd anyway.  If you buy a plasma for 1000 bucks and you get minimum 8 years without a problem or get lucky and get 15 then great.  even if you only got 5 years before having to service, just think what a plasma set will go for 5 years from now.  So my final thought is,  Hey it’s an amazing set for 1000 bucks.  The picture quality is comparable to sets i’ve seen at more than twice the price (when connected to hd and video settings adjusted).  If it lasts me 5 - 10 years then i’m happy, cause the cost of plasma by then will be extremely less than now, not to mention there will more then likely be something better.  Hope this was helpfull to someone.  If money isn’t an issue to much then top plasma’s I see are Pioneer elite’s , Sony bravia’s are nice and not to expensive,  and for those of you saving pennies the vizio is a good set for it’s money.  The only thing i would stay away from, just because i’m in the buisness of installing, is Poloraid.  I have seen more Poloraids out then any other sets.  I prob see 4 Poloraids to one of something else out or with a problem then any other set out there.  Anyways, the element 50 inch plasma is an amazing deal, for the price,  I bought one, and would buy another.

Posted by Kenny  on  02/19  at  03:05 PM

Chip,

Just curious. Do you install TV’s for Circuit City? Are you on the Firedog team? I can’t think of any other reason why you would not only defend but reference the Element looking better than sets twice as much. You actually make several comments that make it seem that you are a victim of misinformation and untrue facts about todays TV technologies.

Your quote was “But if you wanted something that is going to last 20 years you should by an LCD.” This is not the case. A good plasma (not an Element) will last as long or longer than an LCD. A plasma fades away over a long period of time. An LCD will yellow over time and then the florescent lamps will fail and you will no longer have a picture. Low end LCD’s are manufactured with low end parts and will also be much more likely for the need of repair. If you would spend more time at the specialty retail stores and not big box stores you would likely get the right information. Again there is a reason why a specialty store who values long term customer relationships doesn’t carry brands like Polaroid, Vizio, Element etc…..It is not in there best interest to sell a disposable TV that will only last a few years.

You still seem to be missing the point I mentioned in an earlier thread. Let me break this down for you again real slow.

There are 3 tiers of flat panels sold in the US.

Tier #1 - These are your Japanese products. Brands like Pioneer, Panasonic, Sony, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, etc…These are the brands that many people still have in there homes from many years ago because they were built to perform and not just hit a price point.

Tier #2 - This is a newer category for the US. Tier 2 are TV’s manufactured in South Korea. This includes LG, Samsung, Daewoo (pretty much all but gone). These sets are often a step down from the Japanese products but both LG & Samsung are really starting to step up to the plate against the Japanese products. The nice thing about the Korean brands is that they still offer support after the sale and have hundreds of service centers across the US just like the Japanese.  They also employ thousands of Americans in the US in sales, engineering and some manufacturing as well.

Tier #3 - Tier 3 products are the products all consumers should stay away from. These are the sets that are all manufactured from 1 of a few plants in China. These sets are very low end and often employ little or no Americans in the US. A classic example is Vizio. Vizio is selling lots of TV’s in the US. Last report was they had moved up into the number 3 spot in LCD. Guess how many employees work for Vizio in the US? The answer is 85. In addition to the fact that these Chinese manufactured sets do not employ Americans in the US these sets also cannot readily repaired. They are DISPOSABLE TV’s. Most people are not aware that the TV’s they are buying from there local big box stores cannot be repaired if needed at any cost. Let me give you a list of Tier 3 products. This list is scary and grows longer everyday. I will start with your favorite : Element. In addition to your so called “Killer” Element plasma we have, Vizio, Westinghouse, Hisense, Polaroid, Memorex, Maxent, Insignia, Dynex, Apex, ILO, Mintek, Olevia, Magnavox, RCA, and the list goes on and on. Yes, Magavox & RCA are as far from American made as you can get.

What you should have bought in your scenario of not actually understanding the REAL differences in the TV’s would be a Samsung or LG. The last time I checked a 50” LG plasma was selling for about 1400.00 at your favorite big box store. The LG DOES have a better picture than ANY TIER 3 product and offers a 2 YEAR MANUFACTURES WARRANTY and can be repaired in virtually any city in the US. We have 3 service centers in our small town in Missouri alone.

The bottom line is this. You should not be promoting people to pick between one low end product or another. As a matter a fact you tell people they are better off with a “ELEMENT” instead of a “POLAROID”? I have news for you my friend. They are the SAME company. Polaroid, Hisense, and Element are the same company sharing the same office in Florida selling TV’s out of the same low end plant in China.

Come on people. You wouldn’t base your decision on what car to buy based on what some kid making 6.00 per hour in a blue or red shirt tells you. I doubt you would by a car knowing it was made in the same plant that 35 other brands of cars were made in. You also wouldn’t buy a car if they told you up front that it may not last and by the way we have no mechanics in the US. I think we had a car like this many years ago. It was called a “Yugo”. Seen any lately? Hey, but they were cheap.

Spend a little more money, do your homework and as I have mentioned before, “don’t buy your electronics where you buy your eggs or CD’s.”

Kenny

Posted by Peter Smith  on  02/19  at  03:26 PM

Wow, great comment, Kenny. Thanks.

Posted by Kenny  on  02/19  at  05:43 PM

Thank you Peter. I am glad to see I might have saved at least 1 person from years of headaches.

Kenny

Posted by Aman  on  02/23  at  11:54 PM

I wrote couple weeks back that I am purchasing the Element 50 inch for circuit city.  Well guys, It sucks! for the first week I was really happy that I got this good deal and the picture looked amazing.  But it lacks one main thing no burn in technology.  I accidently fell asleep while watching a movie and the next day the DVD menu was looping and thats it Element TV $1000 investment was gone.  I could still see the DVD menu regardless of what was playing.  Turning it off for a day didn’t help I knew the TV was done. 
Went back to return it to circuit city and knowing me I came off with the truth and told them what happened.  Soon as I did that the lady called the manager and he decided that I abused the TV so they would not give me my money back I can either pick up something new right now or take the TV back.  Well then I played my games and got the money back in a week.  But still, my point is this TV sucks you cant even leave it on for one night…and for god sakes you ever do your TV is fried.  Thanks circuit city for this good deal.

Posted by Circuit City Man  on  02/24  at  12:43 AM

I actually work for Circuit City. The ammount of knowledge that my team has in the TV department is actually pretty good. The elements and polaroids do tend to have more problems than any other TV out there. I would recommend a protection plan without a doubt on any of these TV’s. You may think it’s a rip off, but in 2 years when the manufacturer’s warranty is out, you’ll be glad you had it.

(By the way, Circuit City will match Best Buy’s protection plan for the most part. Even though they are different year ammounts (Best Buy is 2 and 4, Circuit is 3 and 5, You can typically get Circuit to match Best Buys price. This can save you some money and honestly Circuit’s Protection policy is a little better than Best Buys.) [Yes I’m a little bias, but if you look, you can find a few things that Circuit has over the boys in blue. (not many though)].

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