Just in case anyone else is following this thread and would like my updated $0.02:
I physically took my PS3 into Best Buy yesterday and hooked it up to the A650. In short: The non-adjustable "Game Mode" picture quality is completely unacceptable to me. It saddens me to say it (I really wanted to buy the A650), but the only possible description is "atrocious."
I don't even consider myself much of a picture stickler! (Although all of us here on avsforum are slightly crazy/anal, or why else would we be here?) I basically feel like I have relatively low
high standards; I just want a decent picture. Smooth, clean high-def. If the colors don't punch or pop as much as they could, or if there's a slight off-color tint, I might be annoyed, but I can deal.
The thing about the A650 in "Game Mode" is that the contrast is beyond contrasted. It's like contrast x 1000%. Here is a simple test: Take the game Mirror's Edge - which has a fairly vibrant white and red color scheme - and simply look at any part of the game; title screen, loading screen, first level... Virtually the entire game. The contrast between the red and white is almost vomit-inducing. Very jagged, bad coloring with lots of artifacts. And there is no way to change it.
To put this in perspective, a brief story: I dragged my fiancée along to look at these TVs with me. She was completely bored, and - in general - she barely has an opinion about HD. On my 28" monitor at home, she can't really tell the difference between Blu-Ray and standard def unless she's right up close to the screen. It's pretty ridiculous :-) In short, she is NOT a high-def snob... Well, after showing her a Blu-Ray on the A650 and forcing a blasé and monotone, "Yeah yeah, it looks fine, totally great, let's get it already" out of her, I popped in Mirror's Edge, and she immediately asked "Wow, what is wrong with that? It looks terrible." This is a bad sign, folks.
I found that the horrible contrast was less obvious, but still very apparent in Metal Gear Solid 4. My current theory is that the A650 might
be bearable if you play a lot of dull/gray games, but if you like vibrant/colorful games like Mirror's Edge, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD, Flower, etc etc, you are going to be sorely disappointed by the picture quality in Game Mode on the A650. I guarantee it.
And let me add that I am also not a crazy gamer who's overly concerned about lag. I thought, "Eh, I probably won't even be able to notice the lag in Movie mode." But I just wanted to check to make sure, and, man, I'm glad I did. In movie/cinema/regular mode, the lag is awful. (This is a universal rule for all sets. You just have to accept it.) "Game Mode" is your only hope, and the hardcore gamers will tell you that even Game Mode sucks. Personally, I think it's fine. In regular/cinema mode, I would press a button to jump, and it literally felt like a 1/2 second for the character to move. Conversely, the lag in "Game Mode" is barely apparent. Unless you're a hardcore online gamer, I don't think you're going to care. If the possibility of lag is making you sweaty and nauseous and you fear losing your online ranking, you are a hardcore gamer. You will need to look at VGA or HDMI2/PC (if you're not a PS3 owner, you're in luck!). Or an even crazier solution like the industrial-grade monitors mentioned on Shoryuken (http://forums.shoryuken.com/showthread.php?t=174085
). For the rest of us, Game Mode is fine. I swear.
To wrap this up: I plugged my PS3 into a different set, and Mirror's Edge and MGS4 both looked amazing. Smooth, vivid colors. Every ounce of quality you would expect. Same goes for the movies that I tried. (You can PM me if you want details, but I don't want to start a brand war in this thread. I've said my piece.)
FINALLY: I don't want to get into the general picture quality on the A650; I think that's been handled adequately elsewhere. Blu-Ray movies, standard defintion DVDs, and TV all look fantastic on it. If that's your primary use, I can completely recommend the set.