True... direct view has brighter and perhaps sharper. RPTV's can produce more resolution with less 'brightness'. Viewing distance has a lot to do with the 'sharper' perception. RPTV's are larger than direct views and therfore you need to be farther away. The closer you get, the fuzzier(?) the picture.
This can (and probably will be) argued. It really is a matter of opinion, room size and lighting.
I have an Elite 510 and a 36XBR400. My view is the tube set has better contrast which gives it a certain "snap" the Elite lacks. Night scenes look better on the Sony. That said, with most dvd's and with HD I prefer the Elite. While it may not have the contrast the Sony has it's still very good. The resolution of detail looks better and it has more of a film look than the Sony. Regular cable looks better on the Sony, probably due to the lower resolution source not being blown up to much.
The better the source the more I prefer the Elite. I agree the light output of a RPTV isn't as good as a tube so the ability to control ambient light is an issue. If you can control it then the advantage of a tube is, in my opinion, outweighed by the size advantage.
Egrady - What's your viewing distance for the Elite 510 versus for the 36XBR400? If you sit close enough to the Sony that it occupies the same field of view as does the Elite 510, do you still prefer the Elite?
I sit about 11' from the Elite and my distance from the Sony varies. You'd have to sit pretty close to the Sony to get the same field of view, something I never do.
One point that is interesting. I've been watching the X-Files on dvd and have been using the Sony. But, with season five being anamorphic widescreen, now I'm using the Elite. The better the source, the more I prefer the Elite.
The short answer is: yes, they do appear brighter and "sharper". However, there's a practical side to it (just like with projectors). If you want something BIG (> 40" or so), you have no choice--it has to be some form of projection. If you want something that can stay on all day, doesn't go out of adjustment everytime someone bumps or moves it, and is easy to see in a bright room from the side, then direct view will (almost) always win. In reality, good (9" gun) RPTV's can display "higher" resolution than any direct view TV, but it's hard to tell on smaller direct view TV's anyway. FWIW, my ideal situation would be to have a direct view HDTV for all "normal" viewing (e.g. it stays on all day) and a front projector/screen for "special" viewing (e.g. DVD's, etcl.). I have the first part down; I'm still working on the second part!
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