Time for my 2 cents worth. Danny, after much reading and driving the other half and a particular friend stupid with questions, I took the plunge about a week ago. Bought the Pana TH-42PA50A with Topfield PVR 120gb, Pioneer progressive scan DVD. Apart from not seeing the Crows in the GF on Sat, cant fault the set up. Am using the inbuilt speakers and to my uneducated ear, think they are pretty good, especially on DVD. Love the PVR - very easy to use and gets rid of those video tapes!
Based on the forum, have backed off some of the settings for the first 100 hours for burn in, but not really sure it if it necessary. PQ hasn't been impacted too much.
I was keen on staying in the $3k bracket and looked at everything from Soniq, LG, Samsung, NEC, Pana, Hitachi and Fuji. For the price I thought the Pana was clearly the best picture although it was about $500 more than most others. I saw its big brother HD model running the same HD signal and I honestly couldn't see $1200 difference. I think the picture would be better with a HD STB but of course that limits your options re PVRs. So in the end, I decided the Topfiled SD PVR was the pick of them until a HD unit is released at an affordable price.
Paid $3100 with a 5 year warranty and $800 for the PVR. Think I did ok!! Trick is to push them really hard. I was lucky in that regard and had a good friend to help me out. Thanks TF!
Hope this helps.