I've got 3 Sony bravia's and 1 LG. I like the Sony's a lot. 2 for them are 46" and one is 55". The LG is 37". The LG's picture isnt as good as the Sony's, though. You will find varied opinions as to what people like. Most folks will generally tell you what they have is the best.
Samsung is ok on the low end. LG's are ok if you dont get much over 40". For the bigger ones, I dont think you can beat a Sony.
I did a crazy amount of research on this subject about a year ago. I went with the Sony Bravia 52 (LCD). Amazon.com is a great place to get alot of reviews and good prices. I'm not sure what your set up is now but if its not HD be prepared to drop some extra coin on cables and upgraded receivers. We also have had an LG 32" (LCD) that has been trouble free and still has a great picture, its about 5 - 6 years old.
If you don't subscribe, and I assume you don't, go to your library and check out Consumer Reports.... they did an article this month. I'm not at home, or, I'd tell you what/why they recommend. I also have the three of Sony Bravia, and love them, but since I bought three years ago, Samsung has really come on strong. I have a son who sold electronics at Circuit City (until they went belly up) and he swears by them.
Both have their strengths and their problems; there are some applications where one simply will not work, but for most people either one will be fine. I do agree about Consumer Reports; they are a fantastic resource for many products, and they test TVs frequently.
We have/had a 50" Samsung Plasma we bought 2 years ago, it just died, the repair shop wanted $749.00 to fix it. We now have a LG 50" with an extended warranty. I had to pay them $40.00 to tell me what was wrong and dispose of it. I thought I did a lot of research before buying the first one, this time I went with $$$. Good luck.
My personal opinion is if you stick with Sony, Samsung, Panasonic or another highly rated brand you will most likely be very happy with whatever you choose. It is critical that you read the reviews on Amazon for the specific model you are buying.
I like to stay away from the LCD/Plasma debate, but since it has been brought up I will say that the disadvantages to both are WAY overblown. In fact most of the original shortcomings of both have been practically eliminated in later models. Both technologies are GREAT in my opinion, but there are bad TV models using each technology so do your research and judge for yourself.
Thanks to all of you that have commented. I agree that I should look at Consumer Reports and check out their reviews. I will also check out Amazon.com and see what they have to say. I too, will stay away from the LCD/Plasma debate. Don't know enough about either of them, yet.
Remember, the ones you see if stores are going to have the brightness cranked way up and probably be under florescent lighting, which is much harsher than home lighting. It seems that all the kinks have been worked out of the flatscreen TVs so there isn't much difference between brands. Now there trying to make them more attractive with 3D and better sound.
Panasonic and Samsung are some of the best. Sony is also right there. If you are going to be in a room that gets a lot of direct light look at LCD. If not then either plasma or lcd would be a good bet. Plasma seem to give off a brighter picture, where as a Plasma seems to give more of a true color. Also do not take in account what they look like in the big box stores, as they usually have them on full brightness.
How big are you looking? What kind of watching do you do? (Sports, movies, TV?) What are you going to connect to it?
Plasma/LCD argument is almost a religion, I'm not going to knock either. Just a heads up on some of their Strengths.
Plasma - Excellent black levels, more film like quality (positive or negative depending on your preferences), excellent off axis viewing.
LCD - Generally consider better for video gaming, can be thinner, lighter and use less power.
Both are excellent technologies you can't really go wrong with either. Also the strengths listed are just that. I'm not saying that because its a strength of one its a weakness of the other.
FYI - LED TV's are LCD TV's except the fluorescent backlight has been replace with LED's allowing them to be thinner and use less power. On higher end models it enables some pretty impressive features. (I don't know your background, I'm not trying to talk down to anyone. Just covering the basics)
HDMI - 1.4 is the latest standard, it supports full 3D and Ethernet over HDMI (it lets you use web enabled features from TV among other things). Something you may want to check.
Hz 120, 240, 600 etc... - depending on the what kind of viewing you do this may or may not be valuable.
-For sports, people tend to like the high frame rates. TV is delivered to you in 30fps (Frames per second) Sports have really fast action, at normal speed, you can get some motion blur. The higher Hz TV's have a feature that allows a processor to interpolate images between frames. Ultimately, it tries to diminish or remove motion blur.
-For movies, depending on your movie player this could be important. Movies are recorded in 24fps. You can set a player to playback in 24fps mode. These kinds of TV's also have a feature that attempts to remove any "judder" that maybe caused by doing this. (the speeds are all divisible by 24 and 30 so they can interpolate TV (30fps) and movies played in 24fps more evenly than say a tv with 60Hz which isn't evenly divisible by 24)
-In both cases you have turn on the feature to take advantage of it. Some people don't like the way it looks other do. Those that don't typically describe it as "everything looks like a soap opera..." or "the picture looks too real, like a video game" Other people, love it. Check it out decide for yourself. The upside is if you do get a TV with this feature and you don't like it, you can just disable the feature.
All of the big names make excellent TV Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG etc...
Samsung is making some killer high-end LCD/LED TVs
Panasonic makes some excellent plasmas
Vizio tends to make somewhat more budget conscious tv's. That doesn't mean they don't make good TVs, they tend to focus more on the mass market.
Just to throw this out there. There are a lot of people absolutely adore Pioneer's Kuros, line. The black levels are unreal. They are just a bit spendy and I don't think you can get one with HDMI 1.4
I hope this helps. Like everyone said, do your research to find a TV that fits your viewing style, space and budget.
Puffin: thanks for the information. You put it out there in easy to read and understandable language. I had not considered what was going to be watched so now I will add that to the mix to help me make a choice. Thanks to everyone who commented. I appreciate the information.
Puffin hits the nail on the head.
I've been researching flat screens for a few years.
first one was an LG 32" LCD to watch the Superbowl (sure beat the 13" I had).
decided since I watch sports, wife watches the lifetime channel, we both watch HGTV and Food network the one last year was panasonice and Plasma.
As we get ready to buy our new house (retiring from Military) I'm watching the 3D scene, plasma and LCD.
if you are thinking 3D plasma is the only real choice w/ great watchability. see AVS, consumers etc.
if You're thinking of a really lit room w/ nice size and price... no 3D but some sports etc... there are a few LCDs worth getting and great prices.
I'm eyeballing the samsung, need at least 58". remember to factor in how far away you'll be sitting into the equation.
let us know what you've decided as it helps us dyed in the wool continous researchers.
I have a Samsung 40 LCD. Despite calibrating it, I still miss the dynamic range of my old CRT. I also have a 32" VIZIO which has every bit as good of a picture as the Samsung. It also switches inputs faster which is something you should consider if you use lots of different input devices.
A friend has a panasonic plasma which brings back those colors I miss in my LcD. Some will notice this and some won't.
If you buy an LCD I would encourage you to get the 120hz refresh rate or better. It does make more of a difference than I originally thought.
Thanks to all who have written and researched. I went with a 47" Sony Bravia b/c I liked the pic and the package deal was a good one, at least I thought so. It came with a surround sound system and a blu ray player along with the piece that allows the TV to be connected to the internet wirelessly. I am having fun trying to figure out which remote (3) does what. Yes, it is a bit slow on the switch but looks and sounds great in HD. I am very happy with it. Now lets just hope that DH will be as well when he gets back. SURPRISE!