PatM34, you're entering the market at an optimal time for the consumer: prices for good 40 and 42-inch sets have been dropping across almost all brands, and it's not uncommon to find a very good HDTV of this size for less than $1000.
Amongst the higher-end sets available now in this price range:
- Samsung LN40B630 and B650 (in addition to B640 mentioned above)
- Sony KDL-40V5100
- Panasonic TC-P42G10 (plasma)
The Panasonic plasma probably has the best PQ, but your lighting conditions might not permit plasma to show to best advantage. Also if you game or intend to use your telly as a computer monitor, plasma might not be advisable for relatively static images.
Another reason to bear lighting in mind, some models will have glossier screens than others. In the right conditions, glossy screens will yield better contrast, but the reflections might look awful in direct light. Sony and the B630 Samsungs have less glossy screens.
A nice feature of the Samsungs is the ability to play many 'computer' video files through a USB connexion (H.264 .avi and .mkv files).
If you've any questions regarding specific models, you should probably refer to the threads for the various TVs. If you don't require top picture quality or 120 Hz refresh rates, you could probably look at last year's Sony V4100 and the Samsung 500s (2008 'A', 2009 'B').