I can't really explain what the low gain screen is, but I guess most sets today have high gain screens that affect the brightness and SSE. This screen reduces the SSE and provides a better picture. Why? You'll have to ask an expert that question. I just know that Eliab really liked what it did for the TV. I think we all realized something was different because this TV has very little SSE. You really have to look for it to see it.
He made changes in the service menu and also used the external controls.
I'm sure the user setting will be different for an uncalibrated set since the factory Gray Scale was pretty far off. Pre calibration the IRE's across the board were between 9631 and 10,323. After calibration all but the 20 IRE were between 6463 and 6593. 20 IRE was at 6653. In any event my settings now are as follows:
HD HD DVD Cable (480p) Cable (480i)
Brightness 50 50 50 50
Contrast 70 69 50 60
Color 45 65 50 38
Tint +17 0 +12 +2
Sharpness 0 0 0 0
Red -5 (sat) -5 (sat) 0 -5 (sat)
Green +13 (bright) +13 (bright) 0 0
Blue 0 0 0 0
Yellow -3 (bright) -14 (bright) 0 -15 (sat)
Magenta -4 (sat) -4 (sat) 0 0
Cyan -10 (sat) -10 (sat) 0 0
Dynamic contrast - off
Vertical edge - off
DNR - off
Mpeg - off (I use this based upon the quality of the source) I also set cableclear to auto on the S-Video (480i) input.
The adjustments were made using the warm temperature setting and low lamp mode. He indicated that the lamps lose up to 50% of their brightness after about a year's worth of viewing (at approximately 4hrs a day) so he suggested to go to high lamp mode when I start to notice it.
As far as your last question, he seemed to be okay with the contrast ratio of the TV out of the box. I had lowered the contrast to about 65 and I guess the way I had my settings contributed to the light output (foot lamps?) which was only at 18 pre-calibration and after calibration it was 36.4, which he said was very good. Again he really liked the way the TV handled contrast and said that the TV had the ability to handle a large range of light yet have a light output at 36.4 which I believe meant that it produced good light output without causing a blooming affect on the picture. To me, I just look at the picture and the set does have an overall brighter picture. Blacks aren't crushed, but they weren't before the calibration either. As I said before, the differences are mostly subtle and I was really happy with the HD and HD DVD picture before the calibration. I am more pleased with it now, of course. And the picture on 480i cable is a very nice improvement. It's maybe the most noticeable improvement along with the color saturation. I was just glad to hear so many positives about the TV. No one likes to hear that their TV isn't up to snuff and I felt that he was being genuine about his comments. He also said that other TV's did some things better as well, for instance the Samsung can't be beat for its colors. So, he wasn't just making me feel good about my purchase. But I sure do. Heck, I felt like I made a good choice even before Eliab calibrated the TV, he just confirmed it for me.