I never heard of a non CRT RPTV (or any other) that was that dark. Is this in a bright room in daytime or a light controlled room?
When the lamp dies, it dies, there is no middle ground. Have you 'tweaked' the set yet?
BTW, welcome to the forums (and your girlfriend did the right thing).
Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way. If you like Wi-Fi so much, OTA fits right in. After all, it is wireless.