Thanks everyone for the helpful input! I agree that 3D right now isn't a major selling point of the TV to me... amazing 2D picture quality (in 480i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p) is the major concern. Last weekend, I walked into Best Buy and saw both model. Here's my basic summarized thoughts so far (please feel free to comment)
1) PN50C8000 picture quality is quite good, color is really excellent, next to LCDS or LED-LCDS, they are dimmer and the color is slightly dimmer but the shadow detail and stuff is a bit better. I heard the buzzing noise emitting from the PN50C8000 but it is very slight... I had to have my ear 2-3 inches from the screen. Even with the TV on mute as I walk away (1-2 feet) I can't hear the buzz anymore. I did notice some image retention, channel identification logo is slightly burnt-in when you switch the source to one that doesn't have a signal yet and you get a dark screen... channel logo still appears like a ghost image. This is a factor of concern here... other thing I notice is that there's a bit of judder when watching football games. I thought plasmas are suppose to handle motion much better. I had taken people advice and turn off the dejudder to "off" because having it on makes things look like a soap opera effect.
2) LN46C630 is a lot brighter, color was bright and vivid, but while details were great just a tad bit less detail than the PN50C8000. For example, the commercial with a girl with freckles.. you could see all the minor freckles and details on the plasma... but on the LCD you saw some but not as much of the subtle freckles. Motion in sports seems good, although saw some occasional pixelations with fast motion. The one thing that I felt was quite notice able was that even though the LCD was 46" and the plasma was 50"... only 4 inches difference... it felt like the plasma was MUCH bigger! When I took a few steps back (about 10-12 feet away from the TV), the 46 LCD looks tiny compared to the 50 plasma.
Looks like there's a lot of trade-offs and dilemmas here. I've narrowed it down to these two but they're both quite different TVs. As for the room they'll be in. There will be curtains so I have some control over the lighting but I like to keep the curtains open during the day for sunlight and I do watch football/sports in the afternoon...
hmmm.... needless to say also the LN46C630 is much much lower costing than the PN50C8000. More than double the price for the plasma! I've been saving up for a while now so they're both "affordable" BUT, that being said... even thought I really care about image quality of the picture... getting the smaller one means I have money left over to buy a decent entertainment console and
other things (blu-ray player, sound system, etc.)...
Originally Posted by NuSoardGraphite
Yeah, don't worry about 3D yet. Its early. There's not a ton of 3D content yet. (though it should start rolling out in 2011) aside from the 3D cable channels. So as others have pointed out, figure out which tech you want to go with (LCD or Plasma) and go from there. Both TV's are fine choices. You can't really go wrong with either one. My suggestion would be if you have light control issues, go with the C630 (LCD brightness will power through high ambient light issues) but if you have a decent amount of light control, go with the C8000 (plasma performs better than LCD in a darker environment.)
Those are gross generalizations, but they are a good place to start from.