Re: LCD or plasma? HD DVD or Blue-Ray?
Dad bought a 54" panasonic plasma for the bar at the start of football season. Only complaint is the glare - very bad at sunset. While they have fixed burn-in issues with plasma and energy issues are getting better, it seems the manufacturers are going towards LCD. Panasonic is the way to go for Plasma.
I just bought a 40" Samsung LCD last night on amazon LN40B630 ($799 free "white glove" shipping i.e. they set it up - connect cable, blu-ray etc.) - it has a semi-matte panel that is supposed to help with glare and is 120 Hz. The reason you would want 120 hz is the refresh rate - movies are shot in 24p - you want your tv's processor to be divisible by 24 so that it helps to eliminate "shudder" - you'll see different processor rates advertised - 60, 120 and even 240, 480, 600hz now - 60 being standard. This only really helps out if you watch a lot of sports or movies.
There is a caveat - some people don't like the faster processors because they aren't used to movies being that smooth. They can look kinda like a soap opera.
There is a difference between 720p - 1080p but it isn't noticeable in smaller sets or if you sit far away from the set. If you are looking at Tv's 46" and up and/or are interested in blu-ray - i'd go 1080p - the cost difference is shrinking and honestly, it's getting hard to find large sets with 720p.
I do have a 32" samsung LN32B460 - and blu-ray's look amazing on it even though it's 720p.
Contrast ratio is also important to me - higher it is, the more colors the set has - blacker blacks, wide range of greys, etc. This number can be misleading, there are a few ways to advertise this and the numbers don't always make sense.
Comparing side-by-side is always the best - even if under the bright lights at Best Buy.
Sony and Samsung seem to me are in the first tier (the same company makes panels for both) with panasonic right behind. LG and surprisingly, Vizio would be next in my opinion. Steer clear of Phillips and while sharp and toshiba aren't terrible - I wouldn't buy one. If money wasn't an issue I'd go Sony - but since it is for me - I'm a Samsung guy.
Hope this helps someone.
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