After 14 years my Toshiba 36in. TV seems to have heard the fat lady sing.
so now with about 45-48 inches of space i would like to get a nice piece
of AV furniture and get a top-rated (picture quality 1st) TV on it.
Panasonic gets an enthusiastic rating. that, along with a salamander cabinet
underneath (i really would rather not wall-mount the set) would "seem" to be
one of my best options.
SO before i go insane shopping around, and especially with new
technology coming onto the market every 2-3 years, i am open to suggestions.
Thanks for any input. P.S. the room doesn't get direct sunlight.
I'm liking my 50" Panny Plasma, after half a year. Amazon good place to shop.

Out of curiosity, why no wall mount? Seems a great sollution to me.

Good luck,
the queston is what type of flat screen will work well in your viewing room....
lcd is better where you have a bright sun lit room, lcd's have poorer off axis viewing(they look better straight on)
Plasma works better when you can controll the amt of sun light you have they have better off axis viewing...
with that said both panasonic and samsung build great plasma's and are evenly priced, however if you need a lcd look to samsung sharp sony ect.
Figure out the features YOU need.
I want a total ability to resize the screen. Not just a few 'zoom, wide zoom settings.
Better sound management than what i now have (sucks)
The subtitles: mine sucks as I have to go into five menus to pop it up (to watch a sports while listenign to music..) same to turn it off. Should be a single button on the remote (PLENTY of useless, never used buttons on the remote, why not for that?

See. I would look for the simple things you use and want. Mosst TVs are pretty good. and then with the features, you cna choose easier.
(Yeah looking at the picture too. Problem is you have to adjust it to be decent first.. hard to do in ANY big box store. ((this alos lets you know if the menu system is any good or screwed up)) ditto an adjustment DVD or Bluray useage, nope, they only have the junk they allow to be viewed.)
I have a sony XLR LED I got last year. Oh my is it nice. Best TV I've ever had...including 2 samsung plasmas...
Panasonic VT50 series plasma or JVC Black SapphireLCD/LED are the two best pictures I have seen in my shopping. Don't waste the money on the Sharp Elite from what I can tell the Elite is just a higher end Sharp with fancy trim and higher price. All my opinion based upon my eyes. YMMV
Definitely the 50" Panasonic plasma. Don't know of a single person who is unhappy with one, assuming that they have had it calibrated properly after the break-in period. Fantastic color and clarity, and Panasonic has great customer service.
Since you don't get direct light plasma is possibly a good option, especially if you have off-angle seating positions as mentioned above. The other thing I've noticed in watching some friends' LCD-based sets is that motion seems less fluid than with plasma sets -- like it has a hard time catching up with motion. For instance, watching a pass play in football looks much smoother and more seamless with plasma than with LCD. I realize LCD is getting better in this regard, but I still see it as a comparative advantage with plasma especially if you watch sports. LCD can obviously go brighter, but with a properly set up TV in a non-bright room you don't need that much brightness anyway. And blacks are generally a strength of plasma as well which is good for movies, but LCDs seem to also be catching up there although at a price premium for now. Oh, and I'd bet the plasma would come in quite a bit cheaper. LCD would be thinner and lighter, but that doesn't seem to be much of a concern of yours.

By the way, I've had a 50" Panasonic plasma in very heavy use for about six years and am thrilled. No problems and great picture. Samsung also supposed to be good for both plasma and LCD. If you live in an area where you have power outages or brown outs you might consider a good power conditioner (such as APC, etc.) to protect your investment. One last piece of advice: buy the biggest TV you possibly can -- over time everyone I know (including me) wishes they got a bigger TV and nobody ever says they wish they went smaller. Best of luck.
Thank everyone for some great responses. i DO need to watch from an angle at times, so plasma seems to be the best choice. as for a nice piece of furniture,
should i just get a salamander cabinet or try to be more "creative"? the cabinet could cost as much as the TV. which is OK, But i don't want to find ANYTHING
where the manufacturer cut corners. Salamander does offer casters as an option which is a necessity- i already have 4 things that have to get hooked up, and counting.
Of course i now just look at the Toshiba set with all of its built-in conveniences and the great cabinet it comes in and feel a little blue...
On the theory that size matters:


this would be my recommendation, if +/- $4K is manageable for you.

Here's another vote for the Panasonic plasmas. I have two of the same model since I was so happy with the first one I bought. I think it's the S42, but I'm not sure since they are 2 and 3 years old. The only downside that I've dealt with is they run a bit warm. I'm not a fan of the Samsungs since both my dad and I have both experiences reliability issues with them.
The Samsung UN46ES6500 LED HDTV gets my heartiest recommendation. Easily competes with the best out there.
I have 55" Samsung UN55D8000 edge lit LED TV. It is absolutely great with very deep black levels and huge brightness/contrast. It has only 0.25" frame and is about 1" thick. You need to decide if you like Plasma or LCD/LED. They look very different. Go to large store and look - all plasmas are slightly yellowish and darker. I prefer LCD but some people swear by plasma. Plasma is faster but I don't even set mine to max 240Hz because it gets "soap opera effect" when movies look like home videos. LCD is better for bright rooms and mine has compensation for daylight, that you can set and adjust. It looks at bright light exactly same as in dark room. Samsung comes with strange settings, too much contrast and oversaturated colors. I copied settings somebody published on internet (a lot of settings) and it is absolutely perfect. Unfortunately it has to be set independently for each mode and each input (cannot be copied) resulting in a lot of work. Contact me if you decide to go with this model. LEDs come with back or edge lighting. Back lighting makes TV thicker and more expensive but is more even. Edge lighting shows slight irregularities only with uniform gray background - very difficult to see. With regular programs it is non issue. Plasma takes a lot of power - something to consider if you're TV addict like me. Panasonics don't have 2 channel digital audio out since they automatically output Dolby with digital broadcast and 2 channel only with NTSC (that is gone). My Samsung has menu choice for that. Most come with active 3D glasses but LG brand has different scheme with passive glasses - might be not as good. You need to check.

One more thing. Long time ago I replaced 27" TV with 50". It looked so large that I returned it and got 42" instead. Now I have 55" (wishing for more) in the same place and the same watching distance. It's a matter of getting used to while better picture quality/resolution makes it worthwhile. Sizes up to 55" seems to be standard while 65" is less common and cost much more.
I have a Runco LCD and I think the picture quality is supurb compared to all of the above statements. I especially love the non-reflective screen and the deep blacks. I have mine hanging on the Salamander Synergy cabinet and could not be happier.
Some of the audio part was mentioned above. If you plan on using just a basic stereo amp instead of the built in speakers, check for two channel analog outputs. Some that do have them, may give the option of variable or fixed outputs. These were common on a lot of CRT TVs, not as common with flat panels, especially Panasonic Plasma TVs. Some just have a Toslink digital audio out, for a surround processor, or surround receiver.

Read the owners manuals online (if available) first, to see if it does everything you want. In the store, it's easy to overlook something small, that may be a deal breaker.
the Panasonic ST50 series plasma has an optical (toslink) digital output, and i have an old-fashioned sony home theater set with two front floor-standers with built in amplifiers and two small rear speakers. go ahead and laugh.... but it has a built in center channel, subwoofer, and IR wireless communication to the rear speakers. the remote has all kinds of settings too. and it has two sets of stereo inputs for a separate cd player (or whatever). it's not great for music but for Lord Of The Rings it's really great. ANYWAY, i searched for and immediately found, for $50 or less several toslink to rca-stereo D/A converters (and they throw in the cable, too). i was VERY concerned that Panasonic decided i already had a new
A/V receiver and that would handle all of the audio. maybe they should bundle one for an incredibly cheap price! i for one find those monsters with countless inputs (for all the cheap wire you plan to use) more than i can handle, at least at this point. anyway the tv should sound fine by itself, and the converters get favorable ratings, so "voila" - no problem.
BUT.....my old TV is now sitting in the garage- i have to put it out in front of the house tomorrow for the county to pick it up (it's now designated as bulky waste).
not a scratch on it, a nice wood veneer cabinet, glass doors underneath, etc.
what if it rains? Just because it doesn't work anymore, this is no way to treat my old trusty TV set!! i am kind of upset over this...
Panasonic VT50

Just got one and its amazingly good.
Have you considered a front projector?
Hey I can tell you I'm happy with Samsung and mine is 52 inch LCD and now you gave 55 ea8000 and newest plasma so it's preference for my next tv is plasma and don't forget Sony full litt