I am looking for a plasma TV which I will be buying in oktober, because I bought a new house. I went to a couple of stores (in the Netherlands) to check out different models and hopefully come up with the best set for my budget (3000 euro's, about $3700). I started this topic to discuss my opinions with you and to get some advice and to see if my findings are correct. Before I started, I allready had an eye on the Panasonic PA50 and PV-500 series. (I know the models in Europe have different names, but I will post some pictures I made with my Nokia 6630 in the stores) I have read a lot of good reviews about the Panasonic's so I was eager to check them out. I planned on getting a 42"screen, but in the stores I had to take a lot of distance from the screen to get a nice picture, so maybe it's better that I buy a 37"screen, beacause my living room is not that big. Let's begin! Correct in Rotterdam This store in Rotterdam has a nice big showroom with lot's of different brands and models. This showroom is a must-see if you are planning to buy a Plasma TV and live in the Netherlands. I quickly noticed that all of the Philips models were very bad. The picture was grainy, not at all sharp and the colours were not lifelike at all. The Hitachi models were better than the Philips, but they did not convince me either. I looked at the 42pd5200, but the Panasonic 42PA50 (non HD TV model) did a much better job at delivering a good picture. And it was a lot cheaper too. The Panasonic 37"and 42" HDTV and non HDTV models were all next and on top of eachother in the store. Their picture was much better than a pioneer plasma which was on the left of them. The source was a television broadcast of a dutch gaming program called "Call TV". From a distance I could not see a difference between the PA-50 (non HD) and the PV-500 (HD). If you have a very low budget and don't care much about HDTV (which is not implemented in Europe yet), then I definately recommend this screen. It does not have a lot of inputs, but it is one of the Plasma's that looks good in any store. Panasonic 37PV500 Panasonic 42PV500 Panasonic 37PA50 and 42PA50 The Panasonic 42PV-500 probably shines more when you hook it up to a HDTV source. I couldn't test this in the store though. I don't like the design of the Panasonic's, there were a lot of other brands which were better in that. But overall you have to judge the screen on the picture itself instead of the casing. (except if you are a woman, but that's a whole other story...) ;-) In this store there was a Sony line that also cought my eye. It was the Sony KEP-37XS1. The bad thing was, that the screen was displaying pictures in a high definition video presentation, so I didn't see any moving pictures. The pictures looked very sharp and the colors were very good as well. SONY KEP-37XS1 They also had a 50" Panasonic on display of the PV-500 (HDTV) series. Despite it's size, it showed a very good picture. The only problem was that you have to take a lot of space away from it to have a good viewing range. I think that most people in the Netherland don't have a big enough living room to put this beast in. In a showroom you don't always realize that you are watching the screens from quite some distance. at home you may not have that much space. Keep that in mind while determing the size of your new TV. Big Ass Panasonic 50" PV-500 The biggest set in the showroom was a Pioneer set and was easily 60"or more. I did not remember the type. It was playing a DVD of The Incredibles and it was a picture to die for! Very sharp, the colours were beautiful and the design was also very nice. But it also was very, very expensive. It would probably look very nice in my new villa, when I win the state lottery. Pioneer P.I.M.P. model 60" (?) The "Correct" store was a pleasant showroom when you are shopping for a plasma TV. You can look around without being constantly bothered by salesmen, who want you to buy something. That's also the negative side to this store, beacause if you have a question, you have to look for one. The thing I didn't like about the store, was that some TV's were only showing static pictures. Yes, they looked great, but you want to see moving pictures so you can see what a set can (and cannot) do. Media Markt Rotterdam Alexander The "Media Markt" is a big store that you can probably compare with a Wallmart. It's a german company that is very popular in Holland. It sells everything from computers to washing machines and Irons to video camera's. In Holland this was one of the first "Mega Stores" that most Americans are acustomed to. The showroom was not very good. It was very crowded and all of the TV's were very poorly adjusted. Because I just came from the other store, this was really overwhelming. The same sets I watched at "Correct" that looked good, look awfull here. The Media Markt is also the place to get El Cheapo plasma sets. But I won't waste my and your time discussing those. The only screen that had a decent picture was a "Vestel" set, but it was a non HDTV model. The Panasonic PA-50 and PV-500 were also present here. Because I allready checked them out at the other store, I decided to take a look behind the screen, because the set was better accessible here. What was that?! The PV-500 had an ugly bump on the back side. I dind't notice that before! I think this bump would prevent this set from being placed nice and tight on a wall. I think the bump is there because of all the inputs the PV-500 has. Very bad design move from Panasonic. One of the nice things about plasma tv's is that they are flat and can be hung very tight on a wall. Maybe the US version does not have this? The "Media Markt" store started to bore me very quickly and I went to the last store, that was a minute away from this one. De Block "De Block" has a better showroom then the "Media Markt" has. It was a lot less crowded. There wasn't a lot of sets on display, but when I walked through the showroom I saw that there where a lot of Philips sets there. I thought to myself : "Ah, the Philips sets were very bad in the "Correct" store, so they probably look like [email protected] But then I walked past a Philips 42PF9966. WOW! What a good picture! It was as sharp as a knife and the colours were beautiful! It also had a very beautiful design. I couldn't believe it! The Philips sets at the other stores were all very bad and this one was really good. This Philips outperformed a Panasonic PA-50 easily, which was next to it. I also noticed that you can get very close to this philips (1 - 1,5 meters) and it still is very sharp. That would mean that I could get a 42" in stead of a 37" after all This makes everything a lot more difficult then I thought. Philips 42PF9966 Conclusion Did I get any wiser? Yes I did! Did the choice get more easy? Absolutely not! I saw three screens today that I liked. Philips 42PF9966 SONY KEP-37XS1 Panasonic PV-500 Because the Panasonic is the newest generation I am drawn to it. But to be completely certain I have to see these 3 sets next to eachother to make a good comparison.The sony was very sharp and I liked the design, but I dind't see anything moving on it. The Philips was very, very good. Nice and sharp, good colours and a good design, but the model is from last year, so I don't know if that should effect my choice. The Panasonic was no surprise. I knew that this set would perform well, but I still have doubts, because the Philips blew away the non HDTV version (PA50) in "De Block". I don't like the design of the Panasonic and the ugly bump on this screen would prevent me from hanging this set tight on the wall. I learned today, that you cannot judge a screen by seeing it in 1 store. Also you have to see different sources on it. TV, HDTV, DVD and photo's. Only then you can make a good decision. I am very curious about your opinion of these screens (maybe the types are different in the US) and I hope you enjoyed reading this mini review! .