Thanks everyone for their knife buying advice. BDL's wealth of knowledge is especially helpful and educational, and really helped narrow me down to a couple of choices.
I finally made a decision and ordered a MAC Pro Mighty Chef's 9.5" knife, and it arrived yesterday. Overall, I think I'll be very happy with the knife, though it does have one tiny cosmetic flaw that is going to bug me for as long as I own it, but more on that later. I had difficulty finding an accurate, detailed description online, so I thought I'd share a description of the knife I received.
Blade length: 244mm
Overall length: 369mm
Blade thickness: 2.31mm at spine
Balance point: roughly 133mm from back of handle (8mm forward of blade heel).
The MAC USA site shows the knife with a two-rivet handle, but my knife has three. I was curious, so I contacted them and they said the handle is really best suited to a two rivet design, but they recently changed it to three since the public perceives three-rivet knives to be higher quality. The handle's F&F is excellent with a near-perfectly smooth transitions between tang, scales, and rivets.
To my untrained eye, the blade appeared dull out of the box, but that was definitely not the case. The blade looked liked it had been buffed to the edge, and there was no perceivable bevel, so it almost appeared rounded over. But MACs have a reputation for being very sharp out of the box, and a couple quick tests proved this knife was no exception. It easily sliced a cucumber with two short strokes under its own weight, and it easily slices through a sheet of paper like a razor. My best guess is that it came from the factory with a convex edge, since I have difficulty seeing any kind of bevel on it. The blade tapers nicely from the 2.31mm spine to a nice thin blade near the edge. The taper right at the edge is skewed a little to one side. I had assumed these were ground 50-50, so I don't know if this is intentional or a flaw.
The blade is very stiff, but does flex some given enough pressure. I think I'm going to go as long as I can without sharpening it because I think anything I do will only make it dull compared to the razor edge it has now. I'm afraid to even steel it.
The left side of the blade has the familiar English "MAC Mighty" logo in it's goofy lettering. The right side of the blade says "MADE IN JAPAN" and has the Japanese-character version of the company logo. All lettering is raised printing on the blade, not stamped or engraved. Note that the pictures below are deceiving. What looks like a clear bevel in the pictures looks like a buffed frosted finish in person.
The knife is a little heavier, and the blade a little thicker at the spine, than I expected, but I don't have any other experience with a Chef's knife this long. I was also considering the Masamoto VG in the same length, and my MAC's measurements are in line (the MAC is .1mm thicker, and 25g lighter) with the Masamoto VG specs on JCK's web site.
The knife does have one flaw that will probably bug me as long as I own it. The grind of the spine near where the bolster is welded on is not quite right, and there is a tiny nick where it looks like the weld wasn't quite polished right. I'm sure the flaw is cosmetic only, but I was hoping for the perfect knife, and this tiny nick may stick in my mind every time I use it. It's difficult to really capture the problem in a photo, but the photo below has the nick circled, and notice how the spine grinding ends with a kind of diagonal transition into the bolster (above left of circle). Do you think it is worth contacting MAC USA or the dealer about, is it fixable, or should I just get over my OCD and live with it?
I also ordered and received a MAC Superior 10.5" bread knife, 12" Idahone ceramic rod, and a Naniwa SS 1000 stone. I'll try to talk more about those later.