I know ho you feel!
on one hand this is a great year to buy a plasma, so many great choices. on the other hand it sucks, there's NEVER going to be a clear winner.
for me I started with ST60 vs VT60 vs ZT60. Samsung wasn't even on my radar based on last years results. truth be told I was just going to buy a clearance vt50 until I couldn't find one, and read the st60 pretty much matched its performance.
so obviously haven't seen the zt or heard anymore than anybody else here, and that's ones still in contention
I think I've dropped the ST from my list. oddly enough for the dumbest of reason initially(bad input lag), but I just got so used to the idea of the vt being measurably (if not noticeably) darker with better contrast.
VT is still in consideration, however, if i'm going to buy a panny, why not buy the best panny?
which now leaves me with the f8500 and zt60 as my too top choices, with the vt60 being more of a consolation, 'value' purchase if i'm not happy with the f8500 and don't want to wait for or spend so much on the zt.
my plan is, barring any crazy results from the shootout, to take home a f8500 when the 64's arrive(may 10th, but I think i'll wait until after the shootout). if I love it, i'll stop looking and be happy. if I don't, if for some reason it's not dark enough once I get it into my man cave, well then i'll have a much closer look at the vt/zt and maybe even bring the ST back into consideration
consensus seems to be that the f8500 will perform better under bright conditions and the panny's(all of them) will perform better in a dark room. I just wish my needs were that polarized...
Displays: Samsung PN64F8500/JVC X35
AVR: Pioneer VSX-1018AH, 5.1 audio
Sources: HTPC(Mediabrowser), PS3, XBOX360, Wii, Sony DVP-CX995V
Control: Harmony One