ok, Finally made it by Costco today at Lunch.. Here's my own subjective analysis.
THe "e" model was setup right beside the Panny EDTV (consumer model). Costco had a Satellite HD feed via component cables going to all TV's in the store. While I *really* wanted to like this new enhanced model and while the store conditions are a lousy place to make an assesment, I have to say there we're several displays I liked much better.
First off, the Vizio HD display clearly yields more "resolution" and less scan lines than the Panny EDTV. It didn't take much effort to pick off the scan lines on the Panasonic. That said there was noticeble "noise" in the Vizio picture that was completely absent from the Panny. It was very bothersome to my eye. Moreoever, despite the claimed improvements in Contrast and black levels, no matter how hard I tweaked the Vizion Display (I found the remote behind the tv!), I could NOT tweak the display to yield anything that resembled black. At best, it was a dark blue. The panasnoic on the other hand had clearly better blacks. Maybe a service level tweak could produce a better result?
Despite the black level and noise issue, I suspect many would be very happy with the Vizio though. It's not a bad display at all. It's superior in every way to the Akai EDTV it was beside, but frankly, I found the Panasonic (even with the HD Feed) more enjoyable to watch.
Now here' s the kicker. This Costco (in Durham, NC) also had several 26-30" LCD displays. I have up to this point dismissed LCD's because of viewing angles and black levels. Well guess what? There was a 30" Vizio LCD with a high gloss glass screen and the colors and black levels blew me away! In fact, on fade aways, the blacks look almost jet black as compared to the Plasma's. Keep in mind that the store was completely awash in lights, which is another reason why my subjective, 1 hour assesment should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, I was not expecting to be so impressed with the LCD's on display.
Well, I'm glad I went and satisfied my curiosity. Vizio proves that it wont be long before most 42" displays (both ED and HD) will be very reasonably priced. I'm also happy to wait until this summer and pick up a new panny or pioneer that will have both good "glass" and stellar electronics.. I think Vizio is likely using decent glass, but where it breaks down for me is the precision and quality of the electronics driving the display.
Anyway, wanted to pass along for others who are anxious to pick up an HD plasma at what can only be called a very attractive price point. In the end, I'm just a tad to picky to be happy with this display, though it is awfully tempting at these prices.