I am now the proud owner of a 56-FH97. My son came over last night to help me install it in the bookcase, and he brought along the new special edition of the LOTR series. I have the SA 8300HD DVR connected to the JVC digital1 via HDMI and the Oppo 970 connected to the JVC digital2 via HDMI. The 8300 and the Oppo both have toslink for sound. I didn't spend any time experimenting with it but I couldn't get sound from the TV itself...will have to play with that tonight. We went thru the inital setup in about five minutes, and then straight to the movie. Everything about the experience just made me giddy...I see no reason to ever go to a theater again.
The biggest fear that I had was that the SSE would drive me crazy. It doesn't. It just simply isn't that bad. In fact, it makes watching a movie more like seeing it in a theater. There is some SSE at the regular cinema, and the JVC does a pretty good job of controlling it in my opinion...so yes, I can learn to live with that, I just don't think that it is going to be much of an issue.
Adjusting the image was a snap. Obviously I will go through all of the calibration steps to try to perfect it, but just using the standard setting and the simple video adjustments produced a beautiful picture. It was as good as any cinema that I have ever seen except for an IMAX. We were just amazed at the beautiful scenery in that movie, the colors, the detail, if you haven't seen it I think that you will be surprised by it...I was. The sound track is also a wonderful tool to test out your surround system. This is probably my weakest link at the moment, I have the Panasonic XR-55 driving an Orb 7.1 configuration, and they are not fully broken-in, but I think that the midrange is a little thin. I'm hoping that by upgrading the receiver at some point that I can improve on that. I'm very picky about the sound, and I can say without hesitation that the Orbs are amazing for what they are. WAF is very high, and I think anyone would be amazed at the volume levels that these little balls can achieve...nice clean sound at high volume.
Black level....not close to the new 9th gen Panasonic plasma, but very acceptable. Not once did I think "gee I wish that the blacks were a little blacker", but I am aware that there is more "glow" to the darker scenes than there was with the plasma. I could not tell any real difference using the iris slider from -10 to +10...maybe I will get this figured out later, but for now there is just no need to stress about it, the black level is better than I remember seeing in the stores, and it is certainly as good as any other rear projection sets that I have seen. We thought that the JVC was able to produce darker blacks than the regular cinema can, so I am feeling MUCH better about this issue. I spent a lot of time comparing the Sony to the JVC, both the A2000 and the XBR1, and I cannot see any advantage to the A series at all, but the XBR1 maybe has a slight advantage in black level. I have always bought Sony in the past, and always the XBR stuff, so I am "calibrated" to the Sony look, but I simply could not deal with the form factor of the SXRD (read dumbo ears) and the A2000 just isn't as good a product as the FH97....in my humble opinion, of course.
Hi-Def TV just looks incredibly beautiful. Digital SD cable looks almost as good, and analog cable looks completely watchable from our distance of around 17 feet. This is a great TV, and we are very happy with the purchase so far...no regrets and very excited by our initial experiences with it. I can honestly say that it looks a good bit better than anything that I have seen in a store. The all black chasis just "disappears" when the set is on, and it looks great when the set is off. The cosmetics worked out well with all black components in a heart pine bookcase...we are very pleased with that part as well.
At this point I would have to say that our project is an unqualified success, and if the JVC remains trouble free we will be content for a long, long time.