When I review a product it’s based on personal experience after buying the product either for a client or myself. I don’t do “reference reviews” where the reviewer places the product next to a bunch of similar ones and runs a series of calibration tests to see which offers the best pure performance. There are a lot of sites that specialize in such things, like CNET, Home Theater Review, Sound & Vision, and Digital Trends. And as important as reference tests are, they should only be the starting point when deciding what to buy. They can tell you if a certain product is worth its price under ideal conditions, but unfortunately most home environments are far from ideal. The difference between “great” and “excellent” is often unnoticeable in many real world situations. They can also be information overload. The most important question isn’t: “What’s the best product out there?” It’s: “What’s the best product for me?” There’s a difference and no single review can answer that. Ideally, you want to find a review from someone whose set-up is as close to your own as possible.
Also: The best advice I can give to someone about to make a major A/V purchase — buy from a place with a good return policy (no restocking fee) and don’t be afraid to return it if it’s not everything you expected it would be.