RE: SD picture quality
Looks like I disagree with about everyone on this forum and the CNET reviewers about DRC. Oh well.
After quite a bit of testing over the last few days, I can definitely get the cleanest SD picture with DRC on 1. I must be one of the few that prefers a generally sharper picture with some noise, rather than a really blurry picture with less noise.
At any rate, I tested a DRC setting with some guests and they thought that in general, the SD pictures looked as good as their SD tv's (luckily they didn't have their SD tv next to my HD to see the difference -- whew).
Other options I'm using to get SD to excel and still have my HD channels looking good still:
noise reduction: medium
MPEG noise reduction: low
DRC mode 1
DRC palette 50 (reality)/60 (clarity)
advanced C.E: low
color space: standard
power setting: low
Most of my other settings are close to vumcrab's
I suppose I should mention that I watch tv without looking for problems in general, once it is set up. I've been watching crappy NSTC TV in different forms for fifty years now so I'm most likely more forgiving than others. For Today, we have a good TV model. Five to Ten years from now we may very well be laughing at what we have today but that doesn't matter.
This is the first LCD I've had that satisfies me almost as much as the last of the super heavy 34" Sony I used to have. That's saying a lot. The accurate colors, the excellent dark shades and shade detail is really good. This tv is a good all around performer. Good match for the 100 HD channels getting lined up on my directv.
So I'm finally a happy camper. I can't help it if I get a crappy source so no use blaming my TV. example: My sd CBS channel comes in OK on Directv but it comes in excellently on Comcast (I have basic comcast channel package using QAM).
Regarding banding, clouds, etc. My XBR has the most uniform back panel lighting I've ever had in my house. Complete zero banding.
And luckily, no dead pixels but this wouldn't be a showstopper as long as dots are not grouped together because these dots are really small and are not seen at normal viewing distances, based on previous experience.