There are three areas where Plasma TVs are better than LCD and the LED-backlit models you mentioned.
1. Natural, true-to-life color. Nearly all modern flat-panel TVs have bright, vivid color. However, if you want the most natural color and skin tones then Plasma is still the best, even better than the recent LED-backlit sets.
2. Motion blur. Plasma TVs do not have any motion blur at all. None whatsoever. This is definitely a plus when watching fast-moving sports. Early LCD models did suffer from motion blur but, to be honest, it's very hard to notice any of that on any major brand TV these days regardless of what technology they use.
3. Wide-angle viewing. Plasma TVs look great whether you sit directly in front of them or off to the side. However, when you move off to the side of an LCD or LED-backlit model the picture fades noticeably the further you move.
Salespeople may tell you that Plasma TVs don't have a bright enough picture to watch in a brightly lit room. This is nonsense! Our friend's 50-inch Panasonic G10 model Plasma has a clear, fine picture even with the blinds open on both sides of his living room, and our Pioneer 50-inch does the same with daylight streaming in three big windows. Sometimes we use the "Standard" (rather bright) picture pre-set if it's really sunny outside, but most of the time we're on the "Movie" pre-set which is really the most accurate setting (but not the most eye-dazzling!).
Plasmas have a break-in period. Choose the Movie or THX picture pre-set (the least vivid setting) and leave it that way as much as possible for about the first 200 hours of use. The picture quality will gradually improve over this period of time. Try to resist the temptation to adjust the picture controls during the break-in period.
The very earliest Plasma models could suffer image retention like a ghost image if left showing an unmoving picture for hours on end. Recent models do not have this problem at all, period.
Now, having raved about Plasma TVs let me mention that another friend bought a 46-inch Sony LCD about a year ago. It has a very good picture indeed. Bright, sharp, and crisp color. If we weren't spoiled to that more natural color of the Pioneer I would seriously consider buying a Sony. In other words, you won't go wrong with any major brand these days.
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