Yeah, I know what you mean. My last TV was a decent Sony Bravia 32" LCD. I think I paid ~$600 for it back around 2007/2008.
Now that I have a 'nice' TV, I worry about it.
I just found out CostCo has a 3 year warranty for my TV for $60. You have to buy it within 60 days. I bought my TV on 11/21. Oops.
Like you I wavered back on forth on the Samsung/Panasonic thing. My heart told me to get a Panny (Samsung just seems like a rotten company in some ways. ****, they're even in the counter top business now…) but ultimately the PN51E7000 was on a great sale when I was looking. $997 with a free blue ray player, and 6 extra sets of glasses (plus the 2 already included).
I'd read the Panny's are more sensitive to IR - and IR was a big concern (not anymore, with this TV, it's been fine) plus I'd read about green blobs, DSE, red lights of death etc.
Samsung has random screen cracking, possible buzzing (mine is fine) and slightly 'not as good' blacks - still far superior to any other TV I've ever owned.
Reviews said Samsung has a better Smart Hub too. Turns out most of the apps are crap.
And the Samsung has that horrible Chicken Foot Stand. But the Panny's stand was not much better, so a wash there.
Samsung has a dual core processor and the Evo Kit (which may or may not be a dud, time will tell).
So, I went with the one that gave me the most bang for the buck.
In the end, I'm fortunate that my big decision that week/month was which TV to get, not "which child do I feed" or "which bills do I pay" or something horrible.
Relative to most of the human beings that have ever lived, I'm living like a king with this thing.
Gotta keep it in check, right.