I took my wife with me to three stores today to see if we could either find a July model but also to prove to myself that I would indeed be able to see the effect that so many people in this thread have shown in their pictures (plus see if the wife can see it so she doesn't think I'm just being obsessive compulsive
). It didn't take long.
We first stopped in a Future Shop (owned by Best Buy). They had a 46XBR2 on display. I couldn't get around to the back to see the manufacture date but I switched to a blank input, like was suggested here, and both myself and my wife immediately saw the clouds on the display. It helped that the section of the store wasn't lit by fluorescent lights so it was a bit darker then the rest of the store but it was obvious we were seeing the same thing I originally saw in pictures here.
A sales rep came over when he saw me switch the input and I showed him the clouds and explained what I had read here. He initially said it was just reflections but I told him to move side to side and note that the cloudiness didn't move like the reflections on the screen do. He genuinely seemed surprised, and said no other customer had pointed that out, nor had they had any returns because of it. Regardless of whether it was true or not it was both hugely disappointing to see first hand what I'd read about also somewhat comforting to know everyone was right and that I am better equipped now to know what to look for.
The next store, Vision's, had an August 2006 model on display. No appearent cloudiness but it had finger print smudges on the screen and was in a very bright, fluorescently lit area of the store so it was very hard to tell really. The sales guy seemed more interested in just making a sale then actually helping me though and he repeated that they'd sold a lot of the sets and not had one returned. A quick trip to A&B Sound to view their display 46XBR2 that also had clouds. It was less appearent from the first one, but again that might been due to the bright fluorscent lights, but the cloudiness was definately there, in the lower right hand corner. The wall mount obscured the manufacturing date so I couldn't see when it was made. That sales rep also reported having never heard of the issue.
If all the sales reps were being honest I have to wonder how many people have this issue and just realize it's just not normal? I really hope I can find a display model somewhere that doesn't have the issue. I'd love to buy the set on Boxing Day. If not I'll have to wait like everyone else for Sony to fix it, if they ever do.