I am currently in the market to buy a new TV. I started off undecided on LCD versus Plasma, and I didnt even have a specific size in mind (considering everything between 46" and 52"). The TV is going in a 19x12 room, which will be a dedicated home theater, and I have complete control over the lighting in the room. Our seating will be approximately 8-10 feet from the source.
The main contenders for me, after hours of looking around and hours of research, came down to the Samsung LN52a650 LCD, and the Panasonic TH-50PZ85U plasma TV. Although the Samsung is obviously a couple hundred bucks more, price is not a limiting factor in this decision, any TV under $2,000 would be fine. I'm not out to intentially spend up to my limit though.
So, like many of you guys have, I read through hundreds and hundreds of posts about each TV, read every review I could find online, and spent a ton of time trying to decide whether plasma or LCD would be a better fit for me. Plasma seemed to be the initial standout, because I have complete control over the lighting so glare isn't an issue, and I liked the idea of paying a little less to get much deeper blacks and much smoother motion on the TV. Seemed like an easy choice.
But then, I did what I shouldn't have done, and started reading up on thread after thread about IR and burn-in with plasma tvs. Looks like after many generations of plasma TVs, IR has been all but completely fixed, but I STILL cannot get myself past the fact that I am still going to be sitting there with the IR issues on my mind, worrying that I need to switch video sources or constantly wipe the screen or limit myself from viewing too many letterboxed movies in a row. My wife, when viewing the TV by herself, will likely take far less precaution than I would, and I wonder if she would heed the severity of the warning I would give her about not keeping the TV paused for too long or wiping the screen occasionally or not watching an entire day of letterboxed movies in a row. I would worry about the TV every time I decided to game for a few hours at a time. One BIG problem I am having is that we are NOT going to even have cable TV, watching movies would occupy about 80% of the time on the TV and they would almost all have black bars across the top and bottom, leading to uneven wear over time. This just doesn't seem acceptable to me when paying $1,500+ for a TV.
So then, the Samsung LN52A650 seemed to jump to the front of the pack for me. Blacks aren't as deep, there is a little bit of motion blur, and the overall picture quality isn't quite as good as the plasma's picture quality, but I decided that these tradeoffs were completely worth not having to worry about IR and burn-in, NO MATTER HOW UNLIKELY IT IS. But then I start reading more and more in depth, and lo-and-behold, even the 650 series LCDs seem to have issues with colors being too soft and the image being too blurred (most noticeable on faces and skin tone). People also have slight clouding issues, and even on the brand new panels, the "Flashlighting" issue is still apparent, and off-axis viewing causes a significant decrease in picture quality. So many negatives associated with this, that after debating back and forth with myself and thinking it over, this was unacceptable to me as well, for $1900, this is not what I am paying for.
I have chosen a TV, and my final choice, is NEITHER of the two above. What I have come to realize after all of this research, and all of this struggle with my decision making, is that we are dealing with two SERIOUSLY flawed television technologies. When one appears to be better, another drawback surfaces causing just as huge of a problem. We can only hope affordable OLED tv's get here sooner rather than later and end this mess for good.
So what TV did I end up choosing? An LCD, which you obviously gathered from the thread title. But instead of spending $1900 on a TV that I won't be satisfied with regardless, I have decided to step down and pick up a Samsung LN52a550 instead of the 650, and save myself $500. Sure, I lose the 10bit, 120hz panel...but whats the point of paying extra to get a panel that is STILL blurry, still going to exhibit the same flaws to a slightly lesser extent? I am instead going to put that $500 towards increasing my budget for my 5.1 speakers, which should take me up a significant notch in quality and performance on those, now that I will have a budget of $1300 for the speakers instead of just $800. The speakers will likely last me through this TV, and beyond. The TV, no matter which one I buy, will likely be replaced in three years anyways. Hopefully by then, a new, better technology will arise and help ease my decision.
This whole process has made me long for the days where tube TVs were all we had to worry about.
Anyways, thats just my very long-winded two cents on this issue. I'm fully prepared to take the forthcoming flaming from plasma owners who feel bashed, from lcd owners who feel that the technology is working well, and from people who think I am just being a miserable luddite. I'm open to all constructive feedback about this decision, but unless something insanely mind-changing comes out of this thread, I plan on ordering the a550 in the next 48 hours.