Alright, I just saw a 46" 81 series at Magnolia in BB playing a Discovery HD feed, so here are my impressions:
When I first walked into Magnolia, I could immediately identify the 81 series since it was the brightest and most eye-catching TV in th room. Of course, they had it on the showroom "dynamic" settings, but it looked like DNIE was off. The set had the deepest colors and most contrast of the entire room.
Since all of the TVs in the room were set to their out-of-box showroom settings, I decided to make some comparisons before changing the 81 series settings.
Shadow detail was excellent. In dynamic mode there was a very slight crush, but nothing like what some others have been describing in this thread. I would have to say that the 81 had better out-of-box shadow detail than any other set in the room. Right next to the 81 was a PRO-1150, and it must have had poor out-of-box settings as the shadow detail of the 81 blew it away. I am sure the 1150 could have had shadow detail as good as or even better than the 81 if it was at better settings. Walking into Magnolia, however, the 81 series had the best shadow detail of all sets in the room. Unfortunately, there was no XBR4 there.
Colors were equally excellent. It didn't look flourescent or green. In fact, for its dynamic mode, the colors looked suprisingly good. Some of the other sets in the room, by contrast, did look like neon signs in their showroom settings. Once again, I think the Samsung 81 series beat the other TVs in the room in terms of natural colors, at least for out-of-box settings.
And then, the picture faded to black. Man, was that an amazing experience! The 81 series was completely black, with the 1150 beside it pulling a close second and everything else in the room looking absolutely horrible by comparison.
I did notice some floating blacks in the bars above and below at widescreen commercial. It was only noticeable in the black bars, however; I did not notice the problem during any other scene. The floating blacks in the bars were not too pronounced, and I doubt anyone would notice them when watching a movie.
After watching the TV for a few minutes, I decided to try to make it look better. I changed it to the following settings:
Dynamic contrast: Low
LED MotionPlus: On
Wide Color: On
Edge Enhancement: On (this one is more of a personal preference, but I think it makes details look much sharper)
And, presuming LED SmartLighting is on, everything else at movie mode default.
Those settings made the picture look phenomenal! I cannot compare them to the other TVs in the room at that point since the others were not tweaked, but I can't imagine a picture looking much better than the 81 series after I tweaked it. What little black crush I saw was eliminated, and shadow details were pulled out into full prominence without destroying the deep black level of the 81 in dynamic mode. When the picture once again faded to black, it was still pure black.
As for the glossy screen: In the dimly-lit Magnolia room, I completely forgot the 81 series was glossy (honestly). Because of this, I didn't intentionally look for reflections, but if there had been any, I probably would have remembered that it was glossy. I'm sure reflections would be worse in a room with more ambient light, but the Magnolia room was far from pitch black. Dim, not dark, is probably the proper term.
So, in the end, my five minutes with the 81 series was an excellent experience. If I bought the set and took it home, I may find more flaws with it, but from what I saw at Magnolia, it is an excellent display.
I know this is now an owners thread, and I am not technically an owner, but I still posted my impressions as it may help future owners find good settings or potential owners make an educated decision. Unfortunately, I am not in a financial position to purchase a new TV right now, so I'll probably be waiting for the 2008 models.