I made an interesting observation today that fits into a lot of what I've been seeing with the black levels on the 700u.
Background - I converted from all analog 2.0 to all digital a few months ago. I've been bothered from the get-go by the difference in blacks, and the control of blacks on the Panny versus the Sony XBR CRT I had been using. My observations to this point have been precisely in line with colnago's posts. I'm most bothered by the fact that you can't extract detail without blowing out the rest of the picture.
My technically unfounded speculation is that the problem may be in the brightness control itself. In other words, I'm assuming that the brightness control is fixed in what it "does" and changing anything in the service menu simply affects that indirectly - you still have a "fixed" brightness control. I have no idea how a digital brightness control works, but I assume there is a simple map, and downstream from that map is all the internal stuff.
Here's why. I have a Philips 3575, bought with everything else a few months ago. The blacks on the 3575 are atrocious. If the people in this thread were the same as in the 3575 threads, they'd raise the roof with their screams of outrage. It's dark in the extreme - insane, bizarre extreme.
The brightness control on the 700u is essentially useless in terms of balancing the 3575 picture to match the original. Full on 30 and you still can't get the detail, and of course the rest of the picture is totally blown out. I returned the 3575 and received a new one, several month later pack date, and it's the same. Got it back today.
I've been playing with it for just an hour, so may change my mind in time, but as I sat there disgruntled I had the bright idea to try the brightness control of the Reon in the Onkyo receiver. It has a drastically different effect than the set's control. It actually controls black levels without blowing out the whites. For me there's two issues overlapping - can I get a decent picture from the 3575, and can I use the Reon control instead of the set's for DVD now. So still a lot of investigation to do.
I'm just throwing this out to add a data point, but it can't be overemphasized that the Reon control is far superior for controlling blacks than the Panny control. This makes me wonder, as said above, if the problem is simply the implementation of the brightness control that's a large past of the problem with the 700u, and if service menu settings aren't accomplishing anything more than a workaround, even when professionally done.
Eve: I thought I was through getting involved with men who were trouble. Falling in love on a look. I can't look at you.
Mickey: You have perfection about you. Your eyes have music. Your heart's the best part of your body. And when you move, every man, woman and child is forced to watch.