Glad to see this topic popup again so I could report back to inmates what I finally wound up with. I really wanted plasma and had my analytical mind made up, but a lucky thing happened.
My Father in law wanted to swing by the Sony Outlet "just to see" whatsup one day. The Outlet has a few things you don't get just anywhere else, and there sat a full 1080p 40" KDL40Z4100 factory refurb for $$699, and all 40" or bigger sets got a freebie brand new in the box BDP-N460 Blu-Ray player.
Check out those prices: $130 for the BDP, $1600 for the set... that's a pretty huge discount. Picked up a 2 year onsite warranty for $29, but doubt we'll need it. Both of these devices get really high reviews/opines.
I am very impressed. The 120hz refresh and clarity/brilliance/contrast of the screen rivals or beats the plasma sets I was looking at [comparably priced, that is, not the $4,000 ones...].
I'm especially impressed with the free Bluray player. The upconvert capability of that thing is as good or better than anything I'm running on my big hog PC. Just shove in a conventional DVD of, say Braveheart for instance, and it is just stunning to watch. Upconverting is a complex software/hardware task and a lot of compromises have to be built-in, so its hard to come up with a 'crowd pleaser'.