I’m going to be the one guy who says the special editions, though my top preference is watching fan-edits because they usually give me the best of both worlds. I can have the best changes and remove the worst changes.
First of all, I’d want to retain all of the movie mistake fixes and visual effect improvements the SE made, like removing matte lines.
For ANH, I don’t like the Jabba scene or Greedo shooting first at all but none of the rest bother me so much. In fact I really like some of the additions. I like the expanded Mos Eisley, the original looks so dull. There’s only people and some droids. Yes the slapstick with the Jawa falling off the Ronto and the Ronto walking right in front of the camera was annoying and cringeworthy, but I liked the addition of the Ronto when it wasn’t in your face (having animals makes it look so much more interesting) and overall making the city look larger, more diverse and populated. I like the new CG Dewbacks, the old one wasn’t organic at all, it couldn’t move. Love the new Sandcrawler shot (rather then the dull looking wide) and Tatooine evening wide shot when R2 is wandering alone. I love how they added Biggs. And pretty much all of the new visual effects are a plus (the CG ships, new explosions, etc.). Actually seeing the X-Wings in the wide shot when they’re flying away from the base and towards the Death Star especially. Originally they just indicated them using their engine lights and it just looks weird. They overall definitely improved the Battle of Yavin.
Basically, everything in this video I consider good changes (the subtle censorship I don’t really care about, the fact that others were left in makes me think it wasn’t censorship but rather Lucas thinking they reacted to late or that it looked fake rather then him thinking seeing people get shot is bad): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvbrVFP_f0w
For Empire Strikes Back it’s the special edition, no contest. The only thing that even bothers me there is the extended Vader arriving on the Star Destroyer that messes with the pacing and “You were lucky to get out of there”, but these are minor. I much prefer seeing the Wampa rather then teasing it (we already saw the headshot of it earlier anyway, teasing it isn’t even being mysterious or hiding its appearance; plus it’s still suspenseful seeing the Wampa feed on the carcass; in fact I’d say it’s way more scary seeing the Wampa turn his attention to Luke then seeing nothing). I much prefer Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor then the abomination from the original. The music transitions were better. Cloud City was improved in every way. The new CG outside shots were a plus and actually having windows and seeing outside rather then it feeling subterranean and claustrophobic was fantastic. And I’d rather watch a version where the Imperial badges are in their correct position during that one scene near the end.
In Return of the Jedi, I prefer the planetary celebrations (the new music is so much better) and Hayden as Anakin (sacrilegious I know). I prefer the more alive Sarlacc with actual tentacles instead of tiny stubs (I feel like the part where it grabs Lando works better and is more tense with it looking more alive). I like the added Bantha shot in the desert. I hate Jedi Rocks but I like Oola falling into the pit and Boba being a flirt. I like removing Anakin’s eyebrows. I despise Vader saying “NOOOOOOO” though. But still overall I prefer the special edition.