I then found myself on XDA reading up on how to lock 3G since the old Nexus One/myTouch etc. trick doesn't work on the Vibrant.
I then came across someones post that leads us to a hidden menu
This menu has a wealth of information that, most of it I can decipher BUT I did find this lovely menu that lead me to the Vibrant's TRUE -dBm reading. The bars are WRONG, the Phone Information Testing menu is WRONG, and the phone has reception that is on par with the Motorola CLIQ I replaced it with. After -103 or so dBm, this shows as NO coverage (0 bars).
Here are the steps for those of us unfamiliar with it.
To get to the DEBUG and Phone status information -
Then select DEBUG screen
Then select BASIC INFORMATION
and the RSSI readout shows true -dBm
I suspected this yesterday but I wanted to be sure it wasn't a placebo effect kicking in.. explains everything really. We don't have -0dBm and this is proof.
During an active call, hit +Add call and punch in this number to bring up the menu. Store it as a contact also
(*#*#197328640#*#, add a contact like Field Test Mode, then go back and add the *, go back to the dialer and punch in *#* and it should bring this up.. select and you're on your way)
Final word: Good reception. Better than Samsung's of the past. I noticed that when I went to a few key locations and maintained a signal where my previous Samsung's fell off the cellular grid.