Hey, good question ! You know, I just didn't want to clog up this thread by giving out this info here and talking about it, but since you asked , now I can !
Regardless of what others may want to say about each technology these TV's use (the obvious Plasma vs LCD debates) both these TV's are just great sets out the box. (NOW IMO) Out the box the XBR950 looks a touch more "toony" and razor sharp like (not in a bad way though, its character just leans more that way out the box). Out the box the VT50 looks rather the opposite, and not so much in a good way (IMO) all the presets (Cinema, THX, etc..) either look too dark or too pushed and all with some sort of hazy colored haze over the pictures background (again, IMO), and its a rather "soft" picture. So thats what we're dealing with (just for a little precursor info).
When Robert came over (from the way everyone speaks about the VT50) I/we were expecting the VT50 to of course calibrate way better, easier (due to ISF mode) and then obviously look way better than the XBR950 too. Literally to a point where a few professionals (priorly) pre-warned me to not expect the XBR950 to ever calibrate and look like the VT50, cause it just can't. I could totally understand that, especially from seeing them out the box, and also understanding the 2 different technologies, etc.. So I was expecting that as well, and had accepted it.
Ok (extremely long story short) - lol, after calibration, both sets almost looked identical ! On top of that EVERY aspect I mentioned earlier about the "out of box" impression of both TV's totally went away and they both looked so "correct" and stunningly deep, rich with "pop factor". I was amazed (and others were too) from the XBR950 really. Only because we didn't expect it to look as close to the VT50. Color wise, they were spot on to each other. Other characteristics though were indicative of the sets though, for instance the VT50 has no "bloom" what-so-ever and its viewing angle is just the most excellent I've ever seen. Where-as the XBR950, if you are not looking at it dead center white text over a black background has "bloom" and once your off center, the color representation, contrast, shadowing, etc.. begins to deteriorate and badly.
That said though, and the point to all this, is, after calibration, IF you sat dead center in front of the XBR950, these sets looked ridiculously close to each other. Color, spot on for sure. So much that indeed, we both were very surprised and amazed. The VT50 IMO holds a SLIGHTLY better picture though when there is "hard light" in the background of a scene. It is slight, but the XBR950 makes it look slightly more washed out and the VT50 just holds it perfect to everything else in the foreground. Again, this is slight. And again, it is surprising how awesomely close to the VT50 this XBR950 looks once their both calibrated AND how awesome they both look period, compared to how they looked out of the box.
There actually has been a few scenes I've come across where the XBR950 looks better and presents the scene better than the VT50 even ! But again, they are ridiculously close to each other visually, and even spectrum wise as well from the gear's analysis. So Sony has really done something on this new XBR950 for sure ! The VT50, well man, its a VT50 doing what you expect it to do. The XBR950 is doing beyond what was expected. (if thats a good way to put it ?)
Edited by JoelxD - 1/9/13 at 12:12pm