My old CRT RPTV died on 11/23 (after only 4 years and 9 months
). On 11/27 I picked up a Sony KDL-52Z5100 (one step down from the XBR9), mainly because there was a great package deal. Well, the flashlighting in the corners and the screen uniformity (or lack thereof) drove me nuts
. In addition, I was not happy with the black levels (compared to my old CRT RPTV) as I watch in a light-controlled HT room (the only light on is a 6500K back light). On 12/13, I picked up a TC-P50V10 and have been incredibly happy and just plain blown away by the picture! It seems to get better and better every time I watch it (which I'm sure it is since it's supposed to get better over the first few hundred hours). I too used to be afraid of "burn-in" and IR but am realizing a plasma is really no different than a traditional CRT. I have only seen IR once and it was gone in a matter of seconds (I have about 25 hours on the TV as of this post). I ended up paying about $300 more for the Panny plasma and honestly feel it is worth every penny more and then some! I can only imagine that the price difference to an XBR9 would be even less (unles you're considering a 54" or 58" plasma). Even my wife is amazed by the PQ and comments on how much better it is. So, count me in as one happy Panny plasma customer!
BTW, I still have an LCD upstairs that I use in a brightly-lit room (3 windows and an 8-foot slider). In that room the LCD is great, so I'm by no means anti-LCD. I think your viewing environment has a lot to do with the PQ.