Let's establish right away that I am among the LEAST techically-adept members of this board. Much of what I read here in discussing the Pioneer 5020 is simply beyond me or so trivial that I can only shake my head in wonder. I'm not a videophile determined to trade specs with other geeks; rather I'm a former professional videographer with a discerning eye and an appreciation for quality.
Like many others, I'm not broke but I'm also not oozing dollars. Despite drooling over HDTV for years, I simply was not going to pay five, ten or fifteen thousand dollars for a new set.... after all, the only thing it's good for is WATCHING TELEVISION. Still, in the past year we've all seen quality go up across the board while prices continue to inch down. Like everyone, I've spent hours at the four or five major retailers determining which set I'd most like to own and which would actually be affordable.
Like many, I was extremely impressed by the reviews of the new 9G Pioneers, but due to other budget allocations in the family, I had put off purchasing anything once more, perhaps content to wait until the 2009 PGA Tour season. Of course, that would also mean skipping the new NFL season so when the Gorgeous Wifey on Labor Day said "why don't we go at least LOOK, there are plenty of sales around," I actually cancelled a golf game to have a "family outing," heh heh.
Since we've been trying to attract the teenage kids to our house (rather than have them run wild out on the streets) I was convinced that a 65 or 73-inch DLP for the living room would be our biggest and most affordable bet. However, the rather posh first store we entered simply said "We just don't sell those anymore; it's all plasma and LCD." Dang, I practically left right there for store #2, but she and I decided to at least look. That started a casual conversation with a salesperson as well. One set that really caught my eye was a 2008 52-inch Samsung LCD for $2800 -- and this with a Blu-Ray player tossed in. I was REAL close to saying yes, but before committing I casually said to our guy (who had been helpful on previous visits) "Is there ANYTHING else we should see before moving on?" His joke was that he had something "a little smaller" but I perked up considerably when he led us to the 50-inch Pioneer 5020. Now, I KNOW this TV.... I've read the magazine reviews and spent time researching at several forums, but it was my EYES that really sold me: brilliant picture sharpness combined with remarkable blacks that produced rich, life-like colors. But I just wasn't going to pay $4,000 or anything close to that. However, on this day, Labor Day, the store had knocked off One Thousand Dollars from MSRP. The "best TV ever" was selling for at least $450 LESS than the best price I had seen anywhere, including online. I kept waiting for my wife to object, but she simply looked at the 5020, then looked at a nearby 2008 Panasonic plasma then looked at a nearby 2008 Sony LCD and finally said about the Pioneer, "Well, that's the best picture and that's the best price." My cue to tell our sales guy, "Let's get some paperwork going."
The set was delivered two days later and it's perfect right out of the best. I've done no adjusting, no tweaking.... it's that good. Perhaps after we have a couple hundred hours on the set I will actually get into toying with the menu but already the TV is a hit. Sitting perhaps seven feet away we used our extra-cheap DVD player to take in "The Perfect Storm" and the image was virtually theater quality. Moving back to the couch some 14 feet back and the picture was simply diamond-sharp. The teens are now 'where we can see them' playing video games with friends, rather than roaming the neighborhood.
Finally, we're still waiting for DishNetwork to come and install the upgrade six days from now so I'm anticipating the next opportunity to gush: live TV in HDTV. Yes, we'll miss the first Seahawks game in Hi-Def and Monday Night Football (both Vikings and Packers fans in the house) but I'm sure it will just add one more level of excitement when we're finally hooked up.
It's my opinion that it was financially and techically sound to wait this long to make the purchase but considering the price we received for the 5020, patience was absolutely working in my favor. You may be vastly more spec-oriented than myself so use whatever criteria you desire to make a decision but I can tell you this: I am IMMENSELY pleased at the addition of this television to our home and my wife is as well. (Oh yeah: to heck with the kids -- I'm ready to watch me some Ryder Cup GOLF!)