I want to share my experience during the weekend with a Panny S77. Many features are shared with the S97 and it's thread is the best that covers them, so I used it as reference.
I followed most initial settings, but I chose to leave color, sharpness, filters, etc at 0. Saved them in User 1 and then used AVIA for setting the TV. The first thing I noticed with regards to my previous JVC progressive player is that Sharpness was 15 and now is 35, more than double. Maybe it's an inherent thing of my TV's HDMI connection or could be the S77; what do you think?
I had to step up brightness a bit and everything else stayed about the same.
To check, I used the I Robot DVD, which I think offers one of the best transfers with solid contrasts and sharp images. At 720p, the TV's natural, the image is definitely better, without much difference at 1080i. But I like the image to cover most of the screen, so for big ratio movies I'll go with 480p and for smallers 720p, for which the TV locks at FULL.
Could there be a possibility to change the locking feature at that resolution? Or better, let the TV work the image as it does with a 480p signal? I know most prefer the bars, but when I start receiving hi-def thru my cable box, I would be happier if I could get rid of the bars. What do you think?
In general, things look better than with my previous player, and then I tried the Auto AV Enhancer. Things looked even better. I know this is not supposed to be the case, but apparently Panasonic did a good job of cleaning the image without harming color balance.
During Sonny's interrogatory scene, which is a bit dark with lots of shadows, when I compared without the Auto Enhancer, Will Smith's face was a bit grainy. I suppose the digital filters manage to clean up the image and the face looks better with the Enhancer ON.
Also, the Enhancer "lighted" some dark areas, juuust enough to get more definition of Will's face in a darker area of the room. The whole lighting of the scene looked better balanced with the Auto Enhancer.
Because of this, I did the TV calibration with the Auto Enhancer active and check on the differences. The most evident changes were on Black Level and Hue. I had to take black about 2 clicks darker, but Hue went from R2 to R6. I expected a counter balance for Color (Saturation), but surprisingly it only went down 1 click. Everything else I felt was the same.
What I expect the Enhancer is to maintain those levels, as it will apply those dynamics to every DVD. The best thing is that the filters are working all the time, probably correcting things I can't during the whole of a material.
I'm not saying "Everyone, turn your Autos ON", but you know, try it and compare. Maybe it's a good marriage between the Toshiba and the Panny, but maybe their technology approach works.
At this time, I'm satisfied with this player and I recommend both the S97 and S77 for Toshiba HDTV owners. Thanks to Paul from the S97 thread for all the technical advice.