I know your pain agent8. So many options and no clear winner!
As an FYI, if you really want 3D and want to stay within your price range, I suggest you follow the Plasma
great deals sub-forums. I, and a few others, just picked up the 65 Panny VT30 for less than your proposed budget.
All it all, going back to your primary factor of reliability and neither technology have much of a variance. LCD and plasma are both very stable platforms.
It's going to go back to what your eyes tell you, and unfortunately show rooms are one of the worst places to get a good sense of what the unit will truly look like in your space. You're hearing great feedback from everyone, and as you move forward on your decision process, ask yourself a few questions, your answers will guide you naturally to the right decision for you
Do you want a natural, life-like look to your viewing?
Would you prefer a high contrast, bright, color-punchy viewing experience?
Do you plan to watch your tv with friends from various angles of the room?
Is it typically just you viewing it straight on? (you answered this in your first post)
Do you typically watch your TV during the day, with reflections caused by windows and the like?
Or do you spend most of your viewing time in a controlled lighting environment, or in the evenings?
There are more, but just some things to thing about as you move forward.
You made a fairly strong statement in your first post about the 65" Panny ST30, which was "Aside from the dimness, I couldn't find anything wrong with it." Once that TV is in your house, my gut tells me it won't seem dim at all. With your budget, and some light work, you could purchase the 3D version of the TV you appear to be most drawn to and get the best of both worlds.
Either way, regardless if you purchase an LCD (LED) or plasma, you won't have to worry about having bulbs burn out! On the plasma side, I still use my 42" PWD6UY which I purchased 8 years ago!
Good luck with your decision!