To answer your question, it shouldn't be about popularity but rather personal preference and quality. Of course people are gonna run out and by an LCD tv when it's selling for under 500$ at Walmart! That doesn't make it a wise investment! If you want a plasma, I recommend a Panasonic. Yes it is true that Pio Kuros have received some of the highest overall ratings in plasma picture quality and their blacks are truly gorgeous. Pio, however, has turned their plasma production over to Panasonic. Panasonic happens to also be one of the highest rated manufacturers of plasma TV's. Now if Pio has turned to Pana, that should tell you something.
I too had been long awaiting my first flat screen purchase for quite sometime. I was adamantly against plasma from its inception. With the burn-in and the off-gas of the plasma cells, you have a $4k paperweight in a few years. The top manufacturers have improved their plasma technology over the last year, isolating the cells and containing them in a manner that prevents off-gas, reduces burn-in and extends quality and tv life exponentially. There's no reason that a well cared for plasma shouldn't last 20-30 years.
You just can't beat plasma for it's richness, blackness, and smooth yet crisp, clear picture. It far exceeds that of LCD. The latest technologies include LED and 240Hz LCD. The LED is a purer light source and much to my delight, is considerably more power efficient. The 240Hz LCD improves clarity during action/movement on the screen. As with any new tech, however, you're going to pay for it! $4-6k + depending on size.
After much research and much frugal comparison, I finally sprung for the Panasonic TH-50PZ800U. I bought it online for 1700 while MSRP was still 2500. It is an astonishing tv! The picture quality, the blacks, the clarity, the sound, all are phenomenal! I also have an Xbox 360. Let me tell you, playing Fable II or Star Wars Force on this baby is jaw dropping! I see things I didn't even know existed! It is so incredibly crisp, clean and rich! And the HDMI puts to great use the THX of the tv's 4 speakers.
I hope this helps, good luck with your purchase and keep us posted!