You could get a 55" Panasonic UT50 for under a grand. Very highly reviewed with quality that comes close to to higher end models. 60" U50 can be found for under a grand also.
Yep. The 55" UT50 is $799 at Costco (online shipping is $100 if you cant get it home) and $849 with free shipping from Bestbuy.com and Sears.com right now. I just got the set yesterday from Amazon (was $899.99 when I ordered, but got $50 refund with the price guarantee) and love it so far.
Was at Sams over the weekend and they have the 60" UT50 for $798
This is the U version, not the UT version, unless somehow all the Sam's Club stores here are offering the U version for the same price as your stores UT version. Where are you located, because I would drive a few miles to take advantage of that deal. But again, pretty sure this is the U version, unless it's a display model etc.
The U50 and U54 are basically the same, with the U54 being the club store version. They are 1080P, but the UT50 adds 3D and Smart TV apps, as well as the 2500 focused field drive, which I believe helps with motion blur. The 60U50/54 is at $798, $799 depending upon retailer.