I've owned a very budget, Panasonic TC-P42C1 Plasma TV for the past 4 years and it is still in great shape. It was initially bought for a great price when I was in grad school and has served me well so far. I've always meant to upgrade to a larger TV now that my wife and I bought a house but I haven't been in any hurry to do so.
However, the recent announcement of Samsung shutting down their Plasma TV product line has really alarmed me. I always imagined myself buying a higher end Panasonic Plasma TV a few years down the road but with Panasonic also getting out of the Plasma TV game, alarm bells are ringing and I figure that I really need to think hard about whether I want to go ahead with a Plasma TV purchase right now.
The tradeoff with purchasing now is that I am the proud dad of 6 month old twins who are costing me an arm and a leg with daycare
so my budget is low at the moment ~ $800, which isn't much. If I hold off another year or two, it could go up to 2X that ~ $1600, but in 2 years time, there definitely won't be a good Plasma TV out there to purchase.
My requirements for a TV are:
1) 55-60" size
2) Wide viewing angles - This is very important as the layout of my living area is such that one couch is placed at ~45-50 degree off center to the TV and I'm pretty sure most budget LED TVs are going to look quite washed out compared to Plasma TVs (my TC-P42C1 looks fantastic at that viewing angle)
3) No soap opera effect or at least a way to turn it off
4) Backlight uniformity is a MUST if going the LED/LCD TV route
5) Reasonably good black levels...at least better than my current Panny plasma
6) Ability to calibrate to reasonably good settings and with reasonably accurate color representation for minor photoshop/lightroom editing
7) Reduced screen glare - I'd prefer this, but my current Panny has no anti reflection filter/coating and is quite glossy and I can make do with it. Don't love it when the sun is streaming in the room, but I can tolerate this if necessary.
Things I don't care for:
1) Smart apps, Wifi, or any other bells and whistles - I have this hooked up to my mini-HTPC that is on 24x7 and I will watch everything on my TV via my HTPC
2) Slimness of TV.
3) 4K resolution
Given my requirements and my lowish budget - You can see why I am leaning towards Plasma TVs.
As it stands, I can purchase a Samsung PN60F5300 (Plasma) for under $800. This seems tempting and will be a decent step up in PQ from my current Panny from what I can tell. Glare situation will probably remain unchanged. Is there any other Plasma TV I should consider for a current purchase that is <$800?
If I choose not to purchase a Plasma TV now, I have a budget of $1600 at my disposal in a couple of years. However, my concern is that the LED TVs with good PQ and viewing angles will be priced out of my reach and I would have to settle for an LED TV with worse PQ than the PN60F5300 Plasma TV. It seems like manufacturers place far more emphasis on stuff I don't care about at the expense of PQ at the lower price point. I can't stand the backlight non-uniformity of most edge-lit LED TVs and I'm worried that will be what I will end up stuck with. That being said, I am not well versed with progress in LED TVs in the last 4-5 years and I'm open to suggestions on whether I could attain Plasma like PQ and viewing angles with an LED TV for ~$1600 in a couple of years.
Given this giant wall of text (for which I apologize), I would really really appreciate suggestions on what I should do. I'm worried that I will be kicking myself for not grabbing a 60" Plasma TV while I had the chance...but I'm not sure if that is the right thing to do given that I have no pressing need to upgrade yet and that I could have a $1600 budget in a couple of years if I don't upgrade now.