I want to get a very high quality display and everything I'm reading is pointing me towards the VT50 plasma. However, it is a bit more than I was hoping to spend at about $3,400 on Amazon for 65 inches.
1. Does this seem like the average price for this size? Are there other places where I can get it for much less?
2. Which other displays should I look into that have similar quality though maybe fewer features resulting in less money?
The ST50 should offer close to the performance of the VT50 for around $2,100. The VT is the top of the line but this years ST series has been highly rated. Check it out. The 65" ST50 is probably the best "bang for the buck" 65" tv around.
Cosmetically the VT series is a single piece of glass so it looks different. What you prefer is of course up to you. I recommend looking at them and judging for yourself.
The VT series has more connectivity options. If you plan on using a modern receiver to route all your gear through then that doesn't matter. If not then it might.
If you are going to have your set professional calibrated, which I recommend, then the VT and ST series should be overall close in picture quality. If your not going to get it calibrated the THX option of the VT series will offer better picture quality out of the box than the ST series. Again I highly recommend you have either one calibrated. It makes a big difference and is worth the expense.
Playing 1080p/24 bluray disks can cause flickering using the ST50 24fps mode. If you go with the ST50 just set it to 60fps mode and it shouldn't be an issue. The VT50 offers 96hz refresh of 24fps signals compared to 48hz for the the ST50. I don't believe that is a deal breaker at all since the 60fps option of the ST50 works well.
I am sure there are other slight difference but from what I've read that is most of it. I have read many threads about calibrating the ST50 and most have said that once it is calibrated it comes very close to the calibrated picture quality of the VT50.
If you want THX modes then consider the GT50. THX aside, differences in picture quality between the top three this year is very slight. IMO, and I have owned the VT & GT, the price difference of the VT50 isn't justified, especially not for the average consumer.
I am thrilled with my final choice of the 60GT50 which resides in a brightly lit room. It gives me excellent options for both daytime and lights out night time viewing.