I know that DLPs have a 100-hour or so break-in period. I'm not sure about other technologies.
But like the tire analogy, think of it as getting a $3000 suit and not having it tailored to fit your body (leaving the sleeves and pant legs too long, etc.). Some sets have great factory settings, while others need a lot of tweaking to get right.
I've done all my tweaking and calibrating on my own. It would be easier to have it done professionally, but it's not really an option, and I feel I've done a great job calibrating on my own anyway.
Besides color, one thing that really, really helps is getting the brightness (black level) and contrast (white level) right. You can at least get the brightness level correct for your TV input by checking the pillar-box or letter-box bars on different channels, and adjusting it to the point where noise disappears / blacks become black and not light grey (stand close to the set and watch the black levels change as you adjust brightness). Adjust the contrast (white level) to where you get whites and not light greys (INHD logo screens are good for this - with white and the light colors swirling). Blacks should be black, whites should be white, and all the tones in between should be a good gradation from black to white. If the contrast is too high or brightness too low, you lose detail on both ends.
Matrix Reloaded is one of my favorite "steaming rat" (tweaking by eye) test discs. In Chapter 3 (Upgrades), Neo comes up and is handed the earpiece. You should be able to see his jacket and the buttons on it, without it all appearing as one blob of black (adjust brightness/black level). The scene just after that, where the ship comes back to Zion to dock, and the people are in the virtual set, plugged in - The background should be 'white' but you should still be able to see detail on their clothing and everything on screen. If your contrast is too high, it will be white, but the detail will all be washed out.
This site has a lot of great info and tips on calibration:
And these sites are great for calibrating for HTPC inputs:
(Phillips Pattern Generator program)