The problem - my wife and I have no way to sort out the models in the Kuro lines by our own eyes-on comparisons, and we seek eyes-on experiences from the forum.
Our situation- We saw the Elite 50" 1080 and Elite 50" 720 models at a high end place (Magnolia A/V - not the shop in Best Buy). Both models were in standard mode, in reasonable ambient lighting. Unfortunately, they were on different walls and were showing different material. We were impressed by both models.
The 1080 model was next to a 50" Panasonic 750 and a 50" Fujitsu plasma, and the differences were clear. The 720 model was by itself on the opposite wall, and was high up and thus could not be reliably compared against the 1080 model. We also saw the Sony 50"XBR4, and felt the Elite 1080 was significantly better.
The shop sells the PDP line as well, but had none on the floor, and thus we have yet to see the PDP models under good conditions.
This leaves us with no eyes-on way of comparing 768 models with 1080 models in either line, or of comparing the images produced by out-of-the-box Elite (PRO) models with the "Standard" PDP models.
I would greatly appreciate folks posting personal eyes-on comparisons of 768 to 1080 in either PRO or PDP line, and of comparisons between comparable PRO (Elite) and PDP models.
None of the magazine reviews directly address these issues through side by side comparison. They reviewed different models, some Elite, some PDP, and each was judged the best the reviewer had seen. Well, that narrows the field to Pioneer, and we need no convincing of that. But which, if any, of the four 50" Pioneer Kuros will give us a visibly better picture than the other three, out of the box, at 8 feet?
Does the Elite line have a visibly better picture than the PDP line? Does 1080 look noticeably better than 768 at our viewing distance of 8 feet?
Does the Elite command a higher price because it can be calibrated to produce a better picture, but out-of-the box, the Elite is close enough to the PDP that you personally didn't see a difference you thought was worth the extra money?
Our usage context
My wife and I are in our late 60's and have slightly less than 20/20 corrected vision - we're not eagle-eyed.
We are both retired engineers, and appreciate both minor and significant changes that we can see and understand - certainly we saw such between the Elite 1080 and everything else on the floor.
We have a 1985 25" Sony XBR, which we bought new after seeing that it was visbly better than everything else. We saw it at my brother-in-law's; he bought it simply because it was "the best", and he's the kind of person who tends to buy things because they are "the best", while we tend to buy things because they are demonstrably better than what we might otherwise buy. We look for differences that make a difference. As an example, we bought a regular GE refrigerator because although the GE high end line was better in a number of useful ways, we did not feel that it was significantly better.
We have an unusual shape to our media room, and I took about a week to find the optimum speaker placement when we moved in. The speakers are big and heavy (Ohm 5 in front) and, as it happens, their placement accomodates a 50" screen perfectly. However, their placement also dictates that we sit exactly 8 feet from the screen, and cannot move further back, and we have no desire to move closer.
I can't be sure, but I doubt that we will go for professional calibration, although I will probably give DVE a go. We are not perfectionists.
Summary - we're moderately picky people who can appreciate "the best", but settle for "good enough" unless there is a significant difference. We have decent eyesight, and we sit at a distance (8') that is generally said to be close enough that we might be able to tell the difference between 1080 and 720.
What have you seen that will help us decide between PRO and PDP, and between 768 and 1080?