Zv - have you tried it on an external monitor plugged into your laptop? I hate to say but you may get better results when using a better LCD.
I have a 32" LCD TV but it's an old model, far too contrasty and I don't know how to calibrate it either. I'll keep trying with the laptop.
Thanks for all the help and advice. I know when I bought the laptop it was made for gaming which does explain the vibrant colors (especially compared to my iPhone!) I think that's why my images might look desaturated and washed out.
Make sure you have reactive color settings like auto picture adjustments from your video card set to "OFF"
How do I check this? Under hardware settings or display?