I've been comparing the 1920 and 97S on my Panny plasma for the past two days. The plasma has been calibrated with Avia and DVE, and I've had a Pioneer 59AVi hooked up to it for the past eight months. I'm using this plasma to test the S97 and 1920 because they are notorious for revealing/exaggerating macroblocking.
I've been trying to compare the two models using discs that are not "in-your-face", the way Pixar animated features and action spectacles tend to be. I am testing with titles that have little or no edge enhancement, subtle shadow details and natural color gradations, all the things that usually do not demo well on a poorly calibrated display.
I ran "The Gift" through both machines over the past couple hours, and I have found that the Denon has a slightly more detailed image on my plasma, but at a slight penalty with regard to grain or noise in the signal. I am running each machine with their sharpness settings at zero, and HDMI colorspace on each unit at YPbPr (4:4:4 on the S97).
I think Denon has set-up the 1920 with a detail setting (TrueLife on FLI-2301?) slightly higher than Panasonic has with the FLI-2310 on the S97 - it could also be in the MPEG decoder they are using. Pure speculation
on my part. But in my set-up, the Denon is just a bit sharper. I think that is why I see more macroblocking with the 1920 than on the S97 - the greater level of detail with the 1920 extends to the MB as well. On the S97, some of the MB is reduced to the same artifact level as false contouring on my plasma, which through calibration is a minimal distraction.
My S97 is a June 2005 model with firmware 86H360. I am not going to upgrade to the newer 362 firmware as of yet, since I still have more viewing tests planned. One member has noted that after updating firmware, he lost the ability to select his HDMI colorspace setting. I don't know if I would be happy with that.