My wife and I visited two stores today to look at HDTVs. The first, a small "mom and pop" store, only sold Panasonic and Samsung. They claimed that those were the only two brands who made parts available for repairs. If you had another set that developed a problem, a Sony LCD for example, on day 366 after purchase you would be advised to throw your set away and purchase a new one. It would not be advisable to attempt a repair.
The second store, a very large chain, emphasized the need for after-warranty protection. They offered service plans that cost ~$600 for 4 years (this included in house calibration of a set). The salesman argued that the store gets many sets in for repair and told me, confidentially, that the quality of the new LCDs and plasma sets was much poorer than the CRT sets that were available in the past.
However, Consumer Reports basically says that the quality of the HTDVs is excellent and that 1-y is sufficient time to see all of the problems that will ever develop in such a set (the salesman in the chain store said that wasn't true ... fans, circuit cards, even the pixels themselves ... aged so that problems could be expected as the set ages).
My current 30" Toshiba has been going strong for about 20 years and that's the sort of performance I expect. Will I be disappointed with the quality and long-term performance of HDTVs? Should I seriously consider purchasing a 4-year warranty extension at a cost of ~$600?