I'm not an videophile, but I am a geek. I research everything way too much, obsess over minute details, and just generally put too much effort into purchase decision. I'm also cheap, and a bit proud that we only have 1 TV in our family of 4, and no cable.
So when our 6 year old LCD bit the dust, I started obsessing over a new TV. ~40" was the largest size that would fit in our entertainment center, and I didn't want to spend more than around $500. I have an HTPC, so I didn't need a 'smart TV'. I also find 3D annoying at the movies, so I didn't want that either.
I started researching and settled on LCD. I decided I needed 1080p, 120ghz, LED lighting and all the other buzz words out there. I ended up buying 3 different ones, and taking each one back within a few days. While each was nice, there was always something that was a bit off. My price limit kept increasing, hoping I'd find the TV that looked good, had great picture quality, speakers good enough that I wouldn't have to run the stereo all the time, and would fit into my entertainment center. After not finding what I was looking for, I went to Amazon, clicked on 'plasma tv' on a whim and sorted on 'average customer review' - the Samsung PN43D450 was at the top the list.
The price was right. Size was good too - and it offered a bigger viewable screen than anything else in the price range. The TV looked good with the narrow bezel. I was a bit put off by the lower resolution - after all 1080p is 'critical', and didn't know much about plasma - but the reviews were great, and I'd been disappointed in everything else so far, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did.
Picture quality is superb. Yes - the 1080p LCDs are sharper, and brighter - but that's only part of the story when it comes to overall quality. The colors on the plasma are superb. The contrast is amazing. Blacks are really black. There's no weird motion stuff going on like I saw on some of the 120hz LCDs I brought home. The speakers on the TV are excellent as well - miles ahead of anything else I tried and no need to use my stereo unless I really want a lot of bass. Our living room is set up in a way that we rarely are sitting directly in front of the TV - and the view angles on plasma really are better. Netflix and Amazon Instant video through the HTPC, in both SD and HD look great. Broadcast TV through my HTPC also looks superb. Blu-ray is beautiful, too. From a pure, visual, 'does this look great' standpoint, this TV rocks. And it's the largest screen that will fit in my entertainment center, so it gets extra man-points for that, too.
I did obsess for a while over 720p vs 1080p. I considered raising my price limit again in order to get a 1080p Plasma, but in the end, I decided to just stick with the PN43D450. It's great as is, and once I stop obsessing over the minute technical details, I won't be able to tell any difference between it and a more expensive unit anyway.
So, in short - if you're looking for a TV with superb picture quality, great sound, in a great looking package at a very reasonable price - then put aside concerns over 1080p vs 720p, Plasma vs. LCD, etc - and just get this. It's ranked high by real users for a reason. It does a phenomenal job at being a TV, and that's what really matters. I'm very happy with my purchase.
The purchase process with Walmart was great, too. I ordered online for local pickup, and it was ready in about 30 minutes. When I got to the store, the told me they'd reduced the price as part of a 'Price Adjustment' due to a sale price somewhere locally, without me asking or even being aware of it. I was out the door with the TV in about 5 minutes.
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