I just read kraine's review and he subjectively prefers the VW300ES to VW500ES. Very interesting. I wonder, however, how much of that difference is due to the manufacturing date (SXRD panel improvements over the course of the last year?) and shipping firmware. Also, interesting that the lumens are virtually the same for the VW300ES in high lamp mode to the VW500ES in low lamp mode (while at the same time the VW300ES has slightly lower black level and better contrast). For my screen size, I think I'll need the extra lumens (especially in 3D) over the modest contrast and black level bump.
A bet a comparison of VW300ES vs VW500ES with the same manufacturing and firmware date might be much closer.
Regardless, the 265W vs 230W bulb is the only technical thing that bothers me about considering the VW300ES over the VW500ES, all the other stripped out features don't bother me a bit.