Gotta chime in myself...
I just got back from a week in Chicago visiting family for the holiday. During that time we had a "crisis", in that the 50XBR1 (SXRD) Sony LCD set that my sister had bought in 2006 apparently developed what's known as the "optical block (OB) problem". This results in a very greenish overall screen color, though it can evolve into some much worse symptoms like "green blob", "stains", "stripes", etc.
The OB symptom is now an acknowledged design defect from Sony on these SXRD technology sets, and due to lawsuits and class-action litigation Sony actually has pretty much extended the 1-year warranty on these failed sets to "infinity" (although they did theoretically only agree to a 3 or 4 year extension on the warranties, running out during 2009 and 2010).
I remember setting up my sister's brand new XBR1 back in 2006, and just being stunned by its picture! I remember writing here back at that time that if I ever found myself forced to or wanting to replace my 34XBR960 that I would definitely go with one of these SXRD sets.
Well, here it is 4 years later... and my sister's 50XBR1 has now died, and my own 34XBR960 is just as gorgeous to look at as ever.
Anyway, on the Sony story... I didn't learn about the whole OB story until after I had already gone out to ABT (on Black Friday) and acquired for my sister a new 55HX800, which is an entry-level but latest technology "3D-ready" (240hz edge-lit LED) set (although she has no intent of activating and using that technology with additional dollars). The set arrived on Tuesday while I was still there, I tweaked it into what I felt to be "visual perfection", and it looks gorgeous!
After the Friday purchase and before the Tuesday delivery, I learned from AVS forum discussions about the OB issue, and what Sony was offering as compensation. Turns out they were offering replacement current-generation TVs at HUGE discounts (or even FREE!), with prices depending on what you wanted to get from them. Turns out the 55HX800 was being offered as one of those "warranty replacements" for the 50XBR1, at an astounding price of $425+tax. Considering we'd just paid $1797+tax (discounted by ABT from I think the $2400 original retail price), there's no question I would have obviously preferred to utilize the Sony offer... had I been able to make it happen while I was there.
All Sony wanted was "proof" of the OB problem, either by (a) having a Sony authorized tech come out at owner's expense to evaluate and concur, or (b) take photos of the symptom and send them in along with the serial number sticker from the back of the 50XBR1 and Sony would evaluate and decide. I just couldn't make all of that happen while I was there, and thus we decided to just go ahead with the ABT purchase plan.
In retrospect, I clearly should have ALSO gone ahead with the Sony plan (worst case, it's NOT the OB problem and they do NOT make a 55HX800 appear at my sister's for $425+tax). If it really was the OB problem, the Sony-provided set could have been re-sold on eBay or Craigslist and proceeds returned to my sister as kind of an additional "Sony rebate" off of the ABT purchase.
Oh well... did not happen that way. I feel like an idiot for not thinking of this before ABT carted away the old 50XBR1.
Anyway, because I'd just finished a very "close encounter" with the 50XBR1 and the new 55HX800, and trying to get both sets to "visual perfection" (color, brightness, contrast, tint, blacks, whites, skin tone, etc.) when I got back to LA and started getting caught up watching HD programs on my 34XBR960 that had beenrecorded in my absence, I couldn't help but being truly astonished at just how remarkable the CRT-provided XBR960 image is.
I had watched a fair number of different shows at my sister's while working on both the failing XBR1 and new HX800, and these were shows I was familiar with from my own XBR960 so that I knew what they should look like. Well, when I got back home with the HX800 images fresh in my mind I really could not believe how amazing the XBR960 is by comparison... it's a completely different image.
The XBR960 looks "real", whereas the HX800 looks like an LCD image. For example, no matter how I tried to tweak I just couldn't get "Chelsea Lately" on the HX800 to look real and natural. The set for the show is very color-saturated, and I just couldn't get the balance right to make the skin, clothes, and set all look natural and real. In contract, on my XBR960 [as has often been said] it looks like I have a "window" looking out into that TV studio, it's that real and 3D-like! No artifacts of any kind (naturally I run with SHARPNESS=MIN on my XBR960), perfect detail and shadow and color and black and white and skin, and it just doesn't look like TV. It looks like "film" (in a good way, of course).
So, fingers crossed that my XBR960 continues to survive and be well, to live long and prosper.
No question the finest visual experience one can have in the HDTV and BluRay world. Admittedly, watching "Toy Story 3" in 1080p/24fps on the new HX800 at my sister's was pretty fantastic, but for 720p/1080i HDTV (and even BluRay at 1080i), the XBR960 is just "best there ever was".
And let's not forget the amazing job it does displaying 480i SD! Looking at a 480i SD channel on my sister's 55HX800 is like looking at a comic book picture compared to what the XBR960 does for the same show.