I did not compare many projectors side-by-side. Being in a realtively small city in Northern Ontario, we only have 3 or 4 places that have projectors on display, with one of them being Future Shop (yuck). I deal with the only "hi-end" shop we have in the city, as I have a pretty good relationship with the owner, and I trust him. Most of my conparisons were done from online research, mainly at Projector Central. I had actually decided on an AE700, since Panasonic was giving away a free bulb. It just happened that the AE900 was released while I was waiting for the AE700 to arrive. My dealer called me up, and offered me the AE900 for the same price, with the free bulb. My only concern with the projector was how it would perform in a less than dark environment, and these fears have gone away.
A friend of mine did the welding, and we've discussed going into business - GorillaMounts.com, strong but ugly. Although that name was coined right after fabrication, and I've since spent some time grinding and painting, and it actually looks pretty good. Our design gives me plenty of flexibilty as I can move the projector anywhere from 8" - 14" from the ceiling, and -35 to +35 degree angle.
No area rug yet, I simply dropped in a cheap Ikea couch that we had in storage. I'm still undecided as to what type of furniture and accessories we'll get.