Well, stretch modes always degrade things a bit, but it's no worse here than on any other 16:9 monitor. I would say, however, that I miss the Fujitsu's automatic mode for 4:3 material, which senses letterboxed images and switches to zoom, and then switches back again when it senses full-screen 4:3 images.
The "cinema" mode (a bit of zoom and a bit of stretch) on the Pioneer seems best for watching 4:3 programming, even though that label seems to be a misnomer--cinema means movies, not TV, right?. Alternatively, if you watch 4:3 windowboxed, you have your choice between gray side bars and an auto setting, which is said to vary the color of the side bars according to programming. I expected different shades of gray, but what it does is actually repeat part of the image, which makes for a kaleidoscopic effect--and an unwatchable one at that. Are other Pioneers like this?
A few other notes:
(1) Now that it's dark out, I've looked at a blank screen in the dark. It looks the same as the Fujitsu did. In other words, this confirms the excellent job Pioneer has done with black level, equalling the previous best plasmas.
(2) I'm still torturing myself over settings. I am indeed gravitating toward -10 for color for most sources, no matter what Video Essentials tells me.
(3) I didn't unpack the speakers, as I don't plan to use them.
(4) I'm no expert, but based on all that I've read, I don't think there is any documented improvement in picture quality with the Elite models vs. the standard Pioneers. (Anyone should feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)