I'd stay away from C.C. for TV. All sales are final that means if you have a problem out of the box you are stuck with dealing with the manufacturer.
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Try Costco if one is close to you. You don't say whether you want LCD or PLASMA. I have had both and like plasma. Get a 50" at that viewing distance. I paid $1200 for my 50" Panasonic 720 last summer and $900 for my wife's 42" Panasonic 1080 this fall. You should be able to do at least as well. I would look at the reviews on cnet and other places before I bought anything.
There are no deals at the Circuit City closeout. You will actually pay less if you wait for a best buy sale....or buy from Amazon or other quality internet seller. In fact most HDTV's are now selling for more at the circuit city closeout than they were at circuit city before the closeout. Don't even bother to go there...you will overpay.
at 12' you want a MINIMUM of 52"....at 9' our 52" is too small for sports or nature programs. You can watch sitcoms and news on anything.
Plasma sets run much hotter than LCD's (heat up the room) if that's a concern. Stick with Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and you'll be OK on 52" LCD's....others are almost as good.
Thank you everyone. I think I'll get a 50". Not sure yet about LCD vs. Plasma. Will do a bit more research.
As far as Circuit City, they are ridiculous. I did go just because I was nearby. The parking lot was full. No one was buying a thing. The prices were about 30% higher than Amazon prices. Yes, 10% off full list is what they were offering! Crazy.
One last question. I still hear that Plasma has a short life expectancy. Is that accurate?
No, plasma does not have a "short" life expectancy (unless you consider watching it 24 hrs/day at cranked levels for several years short). Even given that, I still tend to advise against plasma - generally higher electrical costs, noticeable screen-door effect (at least for me, including Panny PX TVs) etc. I do like the Pioneers but prefer more for the money.
Truth in advertising - I bought a Samsung RPTV @ CircuitCity this September (tremendous price, plus picture to match). I spent literally months researching but then the deal popped up out of the blue and I acted. My son bought a Samsung LCD - much better IMO for use as a computer monitor, but the RP still works just fine as a 1080 monitor too (except I see a very slight blurring in the remote corners, but I haven't bothered to do extensive calibration yet). The Samsung 120Hz LCDs are noticeably better than other/lesser refresh LCDs at motion (sports, etc.) to both our eyes. The LGs and some other brands are quite decent, too - but I'm hooked on Samsung now.
As far as the plasmas, don't worry about life expectancy - seriously. Do look closely to see if you're bothered by screen door effect (I could not tolerate 720 plasmas because of the effect). Do your research, and you too can wind up with a spreadsheet that shows many plasmas (well, except for the PZ800U) have up to 3X the annual energy cost of a Samsung LN52A650 (and do your own numbers for the LED source models). That LN52A650 is a very fine unit and highly recommended (and what I'd have gotten if the RPTV number that Labor Day weekend wan not quite so spectacular - thank you coupons & cash-back).
Has anyone actually measured power usage of a plasma set with a watt meter? I have with my 50" Pioneer and an APC power conditioner and it doesn't measure much more than my old 32" CRT. With a DVD on standby, Directv receiver and the Pioneer, set to power save 1, operating it reads between 250-300 VA. My electric bill did go up but that was because I watch so much more moronic TV.
And to the OP, I'd get a 42" model unless you want a cinema experience. It will blend with decor a lot better when turned off. My 2 cents.
"Here's your answer 139 HDTVs' power consumption compared."
Gmood1, don't believe everything you read.
My set listing is 60 watts higher than what I actually see. Doesn't say whether that is an average or maximum or does it take into account picture settings. Plasma usage will vary with brightness of pic vs. LCD which is maxed whenever set is on.
After reading a bit deeper I see those chart readings are default settings. I would think most audiophiles would either adjust pic setting themselves or have pro calibration which subdues the pic quite a bit. The difference listed in Juice Box of the review for the PDP 5080 is 228 watts for a calibrated set or over 100 watts less than listed in the chart. Sometimes correct answers are not all that obvious.
I just did a ton of research on these issues myself. My viewing distance is about 9 feet, and I ended up with a 50" plasma. According to both the manufacturers and the motion picture organizations, this is just barely big enough for that distance. If you are 12 feet away, you really should have probably closer to 60" - I don't think 50 or 52 would be enough. However, this will also take you over your stated budget, so that may not be an option. Perhaps you could shorten your viewing distance? I was very surprised at how much easier on your eyes it is to go with the recommended size for your viewing distance, and these sizes are much bigger than you would perhaps think.
Also, as far as brands go, Samsung is going to be quite a bit better than LG, whether you choose plasma or LCD. Panasonic is also excellent for plasma, that's what I ended up with. Best of all would be Pioneer, but they were out of my price range, too. But Pioneer, Panasonic, and Samsung are generally considered the big three for plasmas, in that order. I chose plasma for several reasons, mainly because they have much better blacks, which is great for movies, and motion in sports looks much better on plasmas, and plasmas look much better when viewed from an angle. I have also heard that LCD's are slowly being phased out, which is why the stores are pushing them over the plasmas right now, but I"m not so sure I believe that. What I do believe is that the plasmas are greatly superior now. About the only drawback is they do use more power, as someone else said. I am very happy with mine.