HDTV: I was an early adopter back in 2001 or so. Purchased an excellent Hitachi 57" CRT rear projection set, 16:9 screen, capable of 720p and 1020i pictures. Really does have an outstanding picture, still happy with it 6 years later, but ready to consider upgrading soon. I've had HDTV that whole time, we started with DirecTV and now have Cablevision optical cable, about 40 HD channels. Since then I've purchased a few LCD flat panels in succession:
23" Sony for our kitchen 3-4 years ago, $1400.
27" Walmart no-name brand (Ilo) for the kitchen a year ago, $500. Great TV.
32" Toshiba Rezga 32" for the bedroom a year ago, $900.
40" Samsung for the bedroom last week, $1700, it arrives this week + Blu Ray DVD player.
I picked up that last TV when shopping for a replacement for the family room 57": 52" LCD flat panels can be had for <3K, but step up to 57" and the price goes to $5K+. Too rich for my blood today, but I wanted a larger TV to watch HD discs on (they're unbelievable), so I upgraded the bedroom TV, which is where the Tivo is anyway.
I shopped pretty hard here's what I paid for on the new Samsung: 120 Mhz refresh rate, mitigates pixelization on fast moving images, wide ranging backlight, TV has a stunning picture. The only feature upgrade from that is an LED backlight, those add another few hundred $. I was blown away by the Samsung's picture in the store:
(I bought it from another vendor with a cheaper price)
Then I was in a Sony store in VA this weekend and got a load of Sony's SXRD Lcos 60" rear projection set (newer model that just came out a few months back):
This 60" Lcos set had one of the best pictures I've seen, better than the DLP sets that are popular now. But I'll wait on the big family room TV another year or two and see how it goes. It would appear flat panels will displace rear projectors (and possibly plasmas too) over the next couple of years, and I fully expect LCD TVs to be available in that 55-60" size for more reasonable prices. In the meantime I have a mini home theater in the bedroom.
What I learned in my video adventures since 2001: there are no bad LCD-TVs. The cheapest off-brand doesn't suck. You do get what you pay for, premium brands offer superior pictures in some cases, but do your homework and learn what features you're getting. Watch out for cheaper large screen LCD TVs if you like sports, action movies and video games, try to get 120Mhz screen refresh, that pixelization @ 60Mhz can get annoying. Also, plasmas and some rear projection TVs (like that Sony Lcos set I viewed this weekend) can arguably have more naturalistic pictures with more dynamic range (detail in shadows, etc.) than LCD TVs, although the newer LCDs (like the one I just ordered) appear to be overcoming that with improved wide range flourescent and LED backlights.
One last word on pricing: the big box stores generally suck, and won't match Internet pricing. I do a NextTag or other shopping site price search on the model I want, then choose a price from the vendor with good customer feedback that may not be the lowest, but close enough - don't buy from an Internet vendor with too many customer feedback horror stories. This is how I bought my last two TVs, on the latest one the price I paid was a whopping $700 cheaper than Best Buy, who wouldn't budge on the price.