The samsung DLP is great, you could do the 43 or likely 50 inch if you shop around for that price, it's only ~15 inched deep as well and has amazing picture... I've got the 61" and love it!
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Dont know if in addition to "flat panel" you also meant 16:9 and HD compatible, but I, too, would be interested to know the best bargain in that category for a space saving solution in the bedroom.
I am told that prices have been dropping rapidly on the plasmas so there should be some bargains around.
I've been hearing good things about the Samsung 43" and 50 " flat screen DLP projection TVs as well.
At a street price between $2950-$3500 and with a depth of only 16" and weighing only 68-80lbs each, they seem like real contenders without some of the negatives of LCDs or plasmas.
Have a look:
Try the plasma forum at http://www.avsforum.com. Those guys are to video what a'goners are to audio. A couple of the names I keep hearing for plasmas in that range are Panasonic (might exceed budget) or Pioneer. The Pio 433CMX or 403CMX (or something like that) might just be the ticket for you.
If you are looking for Plasma TV Buying Guide, go to PlasmaTVBuyingGuide.com. I have a Panasonic 42" plasma. Since all have similar features, I chose Panasonic over other brands primarily for 5 reasons.
1. Brightness ratio -- 4000:1. Mine was last year model w/ ration of 3000:1, which at the time was the leader in its class.
2. Real Black Drive System. Still the leader in its class.
3. Based on the breakdown testing comparisons of Panasonic and others on PlasmaTVBuyingGuide.com
4. Makes its own glass.
5. Many generations in making plasma. I believe it is currently the 6th generation.
To summarize the answer for your question, 37" Panasonic plasma should meet your $4K budget requirement and your screen size requirement of 42"+/- few inches, if you are in a hurry of getting read for upcoming super bowl.
Yes the panasonic 42" HDTV plasmas are selling at $4500 on the web. Yet next to Pioneer's Elite sets, to my eyes this is the best looking line. Honestly I feel Panasonic looks far better than the non-elite pioneer models. I have been shopping as my TV died on Dec 21 st, yet my wallet isn't ready to make a commitment. And I still want to see Princeton Graphics enhanced 46" set.
I would stay clear of the Gateway Plasma's for now, the ones I've seen look washed out, and they have consistently gotten horrible reviews. I agree with the Panasonics, though they are outside of this price range. If you must go plasma, you might consider saving up the extra $ and going with the Pani.
Given that my 36" XBR clocks in at around 250 lbs, the 40" has to be a monster. The problem isn't just weight, its unwieldy to move since there isn't anything to grab. You might think that ain't a big deal, but how many times do you rearrange your gear? Then again, it is perhaps the greatest expression of a tube based TV ever made...
After having thrown in my $0.02 based on thinking you were specifically looking at plasmas, I'll note I really am impressed by the Samsung DLPs. Just read a great thread on AVSForum on them, and apparently Samsung demoed a 1080p (yes, 1080*P*) 1920x1080 61" DLP at CES... 5000:1 contrast ratio... This, in addition to a series of new sets to be launched shortly with the xHD2+ chip that gets you to a 2500:1 contrast ratio... Might be worth waiting a bit.
I am definetly with Edesilva in the opinion of the regular CRT Tvs being way too cumbersome to move around, lest they are small in size (19".) The Samsung DLP have also caught my eyes, but I have read elsewhere about the issues that many of the competing new formats have....Plasma, LCD, DLP, back and front projections....Black level problems, burn in, bulb replacement costs etc....all in no particular order. If I consider spending around 3-4K on a next generation TV set, then, shouldn't I be expecting a long trouble free enjoyment? I had regular CRT tvs that lasted and still are lasting a good 10+ years. I wonder if these new sets will last that long, reliability wise.
There is an excellent thread on the Samsungs at AVSForum:
My understanding is that the downside of DLP is bulb replacement and the rainbow shimmer observed by some (but not all) people. Burn in is not supposed to be a problem, and with the newer chipsets, the contrast ratios are going from 1000:1 to plasma comparable numbers...