Flat screens?

Folks: I know next to nothing about flat-screen T.V.'s (or what is on T.V., for that matter). What flat-screen T.V. technology currently represents (i) the best picture quality, (ii) the highest reliability, and (iii) the lowest maintenance? Feel free to offer names of brands and what I should expect to pay for one that is approximately 40 inches x 30 inches. It would be used for watching baseball (me) and movies (my wife) in a non-home theater set-up (just straight T.V.) Thanks to all.
For a sleeper LCD check out Olevia - highly rated by Consumers Reports and IMHO gives a picture quality second only to the Sony Bravia series at 2.5x the cost.

Although I think Rlwainwright is correct that you will want 4" greater than you actually buy, you'll also notice that it really doesn't matter all that much because the picture is soooo much clearer than a convntional CRT TV that you'll find it easy to watch and generally pretty satisfying.
Remember that the TV is only half of the equation...an HD source, either over-the-air, cable, or satellite is the other half...standard cable or even satellite is going to look about the same as it does on your old TV. A good quality progressive scan DVD player hooked up with component cables or one of the newer upconvert DVD players is an inexpensive way to get great picture quality for movies. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD player prices are dropping rapidly and will also upconvert your current DVD discs to look great on an HD TV. I agee that Plasmas are the way to go right now. I have two, including a Pioneer 43" that looks great with my HD Directv.
My pick [someday] is the LG 50" 780i plasma [1080 is overkill & too costly at this point in time, IMHO].

I like the LG because: 1) 60,000 hour life 2) 2 year mfg. warranty 3) currently about $1500- or less. 4) 15,000:1 contrast ratio

Very impressive picture, but if there is a lot of ambient light in your room, go with an LCD
We thank all of you for your very thoughtful comments -- this is really helpful -- fantastic!

Drake and Raquel
Actually the best picture is still a Hi-Def Glass tube unit but the are small, boxy and heavy....then Plasma, then LCD but LCD gets better almost monthly, DLP rear unit projectors are popular for getting big picture on the cheap and can vary in quality fitting in between Plasma and LCD. Then last are Projectors which can be fantastic in a dedicated space where light is not a huge issue to control.....but for all their flaws that huge picture cant be beat for true movie involvment.
As of now I have Glass tube HDTV, small LCD unit and an LCD projector, my dad has 58in Plasma and my brother has a 65in DLP rear Projection unit so I have a pretty good hold on many of each strengths and weakness.