Panasonic plasma. I've had several friends and relatives ask this same questions over the past few months. All of them bought the Panasonic Plasma that I had recommended and couldn't be happier.
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When I was in a serious search trying to find the best tv/ best picture, the Panasonic TC-P46ST30 plasma was really very good. (I tried LCD, LED, plasma and rear projection)- Sony, Samsung, Panasonic. Actually the rear projection tv (a Mitsubishi) was the best picture I've seen, but the rear projection tv's are big (no 46"). The Panasonic was second. I'd go Panny.
For LED I go to Samsung UN46D7000 or D8000 http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-UN46D7000-46-Inch-1080p-Silver/dp/B004O6MN7E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331596938&sr=8-2
For Plasma I would look at Panasonic VIERA TC-P42GT25 top of the line.
Visit AVSForums and do a search after you make up your mind. They will have recommended settings so that you can get the most out of the TV and its features.
I have a number of different technology TV's and just so happen to have a Panasonic 46ST30 in my mancave. Very very good picture, although sound is weak, so you need so sort of alternate sound system. 3D is also good if you don't mind those sexy goggles you have to wear. I find LCD's make me eyes tired even when I scale them down. I prefer plasma myself. I just wish I could still get Kuro's like I have...Good luck.
Be careful with Panasonic since it might not work with two channel DAC. Panasonics outputs on optical Toslink output DOLBY with Dolby material and PCM with NTSC automatically (no option in the menu). Sony AFAIK outputs only PCM (people complained) also without software switch while Samsung has menu option allowing to chose format. If you have home theater system capable of processing DOLBY it won't matter but I had to go with Samsung UN55D8000 setting it to PCM. The only two drawbacks I found so far is slightly uneven back-lite (edge LEDs), not visible at all in normal use, and glossy screen. Also internet is very slow. Other than that color, contrast, black level, sharpness is absolutely incredible. It can also be set to compensate for ambient light what makes picture pretty much the same day and night. I like very small border and 0.9" thickness. Original Samsung calibration is very weird (huge contrast and brightness) but I copied detailed calibration setting posted on internet and it is perfect. I've never seen TV picture that good. My Samsung is 240Hz but it allows to slow it to down eliminate "soap opera" effect. Panasonic plasmas run at 600Hz - check if there is option to slow it down. All you probably need is 120Hz (being multiple of 24Hz) or define separate profiles for slow and fast to switch them for movies and sports.
I have the a 50" Panasonic st30 and picture is amazing. but there are no analog audio outputs, and the digital signal is Dolby. I had to buy a used surround processor to convert signal from Dolby to analog. I picked up the processor for 65$, the sound is not amazing but it is surely better than the Dac that would have been included in the TV if they still supplied them.
By the way none of the major brands offer analog outputs on the mid the high end tv's.
I paid 900$ at Future Shop, and no ther TVs in the size and price range offered anywhere near good picture or features such wifi, DLNA, and some Internet content. the only internet feature missing IMHO is a Netflix app.
Hope this helps