Thanks for the warm welcome.
What part of Mass. are you in? I used to travel for work, and we have an office in Billerica. Have good friends in Boston too. We're getting ready for Hurricane number 3 in the last 4 weeks, so I am wishing I was up there right now.
Anyhow, I got it in the house OK. I had 2 other friends help me carry it upstairs in my house, and it took all 3 of us to put it on top of the ent. center! Yikes. It's not too bad with help, plus you won't (hopefully) have to move it again for along time.
To be honest, I just went to look at the cabinet and I guess I'm used to it now. It's really not that bad; it's just not cutting edge looking.
The stretch modes are GREAT!! They are just as good as my Toshiba 50H82, which is saying alot. Use Stretch mode "Wide-Zoom" on all 4:3 based material. It makes it look perfectly natural. There is a small price to pay in this mode however. The Wide Zoom will chop off a little from the top and bottom. I only notice it when I'm watching Fox news or Cnn. The little ticker at the bottom is cut off a bit. You can adjust the vertical position though. No big deal. This mode also works WONDERS with my X-box games that are non-wide screen capable. In these, I have not noticed anything being cut off. Nice natural looking stretch here.
I popped in Breakfast Club on VHS, and it looked Ok. Nothing special, and again the wide-zoom worked perfectly. It looks quality-wise as good as a VHS could.
Color-accuracy on that 34" Panny was really...... Hmm... I'd have to say that it looked a little exagerated, but very attractive; even after I reset everything by eye. It wasn't bad at all, it just wasn't a true-color palette. It reminded me of my Hitachi 51. Some of the colors looked so good that they were just a little bit over-saturated. It looked different than the Sony I went with, but not necessarily better.. I think this area will be viewer-dependent. Some may prefer the Panny color, some will prefer the Sony.
ONE BIG IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT THE PANNY: I forgot the deal-breaker for me with the Panny 34wx54. That TV WILL NOT accept a 720p signal. This may not matter to some people, but it is important to note. I have several X-box games that use 720p. The 34wx54 will NOT pass this through to 1080i. It will display a black or distorted screen. Again, It cannot pass a 720p signal to 1080i.
Other than that, it was a toss-up for me between the two. As far as the price, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to reveal what I paid for it. I still have to read the forum rules better. Suffice it to say, I paid 300 less than retail at CC, because it was open-box. Do the math. :p
I'm stoked about getting my upconverting DVD player next week! Can't wait. Hope this helps you make a very tough decision. By the way, I see alot of people prefer the HS510 model Sony or Xs93 I think. From what I saw first hand, they do not improve on pic quality like the XBR does. These models just add PIP, better sound, mem card slot, 2 Rf, and nicer cabinet. Picture quality is king with me, and those extra features did not justify the price difference.
Paradise waits... on the crest of a wave.