Did lots of research, spoke to a bunch of salesman... after I returned my impulsive purchase of a Vizio 55" 480hz LCD. (feel free to read why I returned the Vizio) VIZIO XVT3D554SV 55-inch 1080p 480Hz 3D LED HDTV with Full Array TruLED, Smart Dimming and VIZIO Internet Apps
I thought Plasma was dying technology due to the overwhelming number of LCD's at the store for the bad rap it gets for not being as bright, being too hot, poor energy rating, and image retention. Problems which have been fixed on the newer models. The brightness difference you're seeing at the store between LCD and Plasma is the reason for the consumer movement to LCD (IMO). Though, once you get the TV into your home, LCD is much too bright. Even on a sunny day, it wasn't needed.
This TV has a perfect/amazing picture. I've owned it now for 3 weeks and have seen zero noticeable defects. Judder, ghosting etc.. Watched some content in 3d and I'm hooked. Basketball, football, Xbox Black Ops, and Avatar has been it so far. (lack of cheap 3d content out there, had to upgrade to new cable box (no cost) for the 3d channels) The movie and sporting events were amazing and makes watching in 2d lame. I didn't care for the 1st person shooter in 3d though. 2d gaming is perfect with no delay. I am perfectly satisfied that I purchased the right technology, Plasma.
I sometimes wonder how the Samsung plasma compares due to the following:
1) amount of online menu items seems to be lacking when compared to other brands. When I was shopping for the TV, I was mainly concerned that it would have Netflix. I've used YouTube and I now wish it had a browser as well.
2) The Samsung remote looks much more professional than the Panasonic.
3) When the TV is turned off, it's not nearly as modern looking as some of the other brands.
Can't wait for Netflix to start renting out 3d Blue-Ray movies!