I had the Hitachi 43UWX's big brother the 53UWX10B for 2 weeks and could not get a decent ntsc picture. Fleshtones were posterized, as if peoples faces were painted with latex paint. It could not maintain consistent black levels when changing channels. It had a green swampy look in dark parts of the picture. It was great for HD, but dvd and ntsc just didn't look very good. I really wanted to like it as I'd had great experience with an Hitachi analog rptv.
I exchanged it for the Sony KP57HW40, and a 2o minute session with AVIA calibration dvd got me a very nice picture. I can highly recommend the HW40 Sony. I've had mine for 7 months now and it just keeps getting better.
I own the little brother to the Sony KP-53HS30, the Sony KP-53HS10. I am very happy with it but at the same time I am looking to make the jump to a projector. I honestly think it is a great picture and there are plenty of websites that can give you step by step help in the service menu to get the best out of your picture. The only other tv I considered (since I couldn't afford an Elite) was Toshiba but I just couldn't live without discrete codes. I would recommend it whole heartily.
Everythign goes full circle. I had a tosh in my house and didn't like it at all. The sony's are overpriced, I have a Hitachi SDX series and couldn't be happier with it. The flesh tones are amazingly accurate and overall after 3 years I still love this TV more everyday.
Try to look at them in a store side by side with decent conditions. Once I did that, it wasn't worth a penny extra for the letter S O N Y on my TV.
I have never owned a Sharp set, so this was a concern for me too, as this is also my first RPTV, HD ready no less.
I almost never take on extended warranty's, but in this case it was very resonable. Also, ABT is one of the largest electronic dealers in this area with a good return policy. I figured that if I did have repeated problems, I could start over with them and go with another brand as a last resort.
So far, so good, and I love this set!
I own the Sony 53HS30, and I do recommend it. I compared it side-by-side with the 53" Hitachi 4:3, and I just liked the Sony better. Now understand that I took along my Avia calibration disc to properly set the user picture controls on both sets, and I used a Pioneer Elite DV-37 for my comparisons. I couldn't put my finger on anything specific that the Sony did better than the Hitachi, but the picture just looked more "right" to me. I much preferred the Sony's remote and menu system. And I didn't ultimately decide on the Sony based on the brand name; in fact, I'm generally NOT a big Sony fan.
Having lived with this TV for over 5 months now, I'm still continually astounded at the picture that this set is capable of producing. Watching "16x9 enhanced" DVDs on a progressive-scan DVD player is like watching film -- absolutely no visible scan lines. Colors are very realistic, and the picture is very smooth. I really like the interlaced (960i) Digital Reality Creation mode for good cable TV feeds -- it produces a nice, sharp, scan line-free image. Progressive mode with 2:3 pulldown works very well, also -- there's really not much need to buy a progressive DVD player right away. My only real gripe is that you can't tweak the alignment with user controls -- it has an auto-alignment feature that never gets the guns perfectly aligned.
I did a lot of online research before I bought this set, and there is a lot of available info about tweaking this set to perfection via the service menu. However, I haven't had the guts to try it myself; I intend to eventually have it professionally calibrated. But even without the calibration, it's providing one of the best in-the-home pictures I've ever laid eyes on!
You can get a Pioneer SD533HD5 for about that price. I promise it will look better than all the sets previously mentioned. The stretch modes are the best, and the picture quality is the best of any right out of the box. After calibration, most people can't tell the difference between it and a ELITE model. (After all, they're nearly the same). Remember that the only thing everyone seems to agree on is that the ELITE has the best picture. Getting the non-ELITE will save a ton of money, but retain the picture quality. They also have the best line-doubler of any consumer set, hands-down. Many people have said that it is better than almost all progressive scan DVD players...!