Learned a valuable lesson today - don't do all your homework from the internet.
That bares repeating!
I'm really afraid for the next generation, because the internet is so much a part of their life, they don't know what it was like before the internet was around, when you actually HAD to get out and physically go down to a store to research this hobby. Don't get me wrong, the internet is marvelous and has brought about possibilities never before imagined. But there is no substitute for hands-on research.
Take my television purchase, before I went around and actually compared different TV's I read all about the new plasma's and how great they were. They sounded so wonderful over the internet that I thought forsure I would be a plasma owner in the near future. But once I took those impressions to the store and compared plama's to LCD's to LED's... all of those impressions fell by the way side.
Not to bag on plasma's mind you, but they just weren't for me. Their definition was superb, motion flawless, colors fantastic... but when sitting next to an LCD or LED, they seemed dard, and dare I say 'dull' looking. The LCD's and LED's were bright and had a certain 'wow' factor for me that the plasma's didn't. Of course the first few plasma's I saw next to LCD's I figured maybe they just weren't fine tuned correctly. Maybe the set-up guys didn't give them enough brightness. But when it became the same story with every plasma I could compare next to an LCD in that store, and then the next store, and the next and so on and so forth, well then I realized that for my personal tastes, I was an LCD guy, not a plasma guy.
Now I've been over to my fiancee's ex-husbands house who just recently bought a 60 inch plasma and I thought it looked awesome. So like I've mentioned in other threads once you have a screen in your viewing area away from all the other screens down at the store you'll get used to the way it looks and you'll probably never notice that it's darker, or the colors aren't quite as snappy, or the motion is a bit more blurry or whatever... it becomes less important once you get it away from other competitors. So if the best screen you can afford isn't the absolute BEST unit in the store, don't sweat it too much.
But certainly actually being able to experience things in person is absolutely a huge factor in finding what you really do like personally. That's why if there's anyone in your area that you could possibly go over and demo their Axiom's it would really help you out with your decision. I had made my mind up on Axiom's, and then just before I pulled the trigger on my order I had second thoughts. But then I got to demo a fellow Axiomite's equipment... that was all it took for me to know that Axiom was the brand for me. But you never know, they might not be the brand for you. You might be a silk-dome tweeter kind of guy. You just don't know until you compare
Hit as many different stores as you can and listen to as many of the different types of speakers as you can find until one of them stands out above the rest to your ear. The second part is bringing them home to listen to in your environment. Something can sound great in a store or someone else's home, but then sound completely different in your own home. And that's why companies with 30 day trial periods like Axiom are so useful. They let you figure out if their product is truely a good fit for your home without much risk if they turn out not to be.
I hope you can find someone in your area that can accomodate you for a demo. That would be invaluable!