you'll get many different answers (or as most call it...opinions) so i'll give you mine.
rear projections (dlp's) have a light bulb in there that will last anywhere from 2000-8000hours. if you leave it on all the time for distraction...that will make the tv last a lot shorter and you will need to service it within the first few years of the tv's life. for that reason, i will recommend that you stay away from a rear projection.
now for a 42inch lcd or plasma. what is your budget? it'll be easier to give you an answer based on that. basically, if your budget is over $3000, i'd recommend the sony 40xbr1 as a high end tv. lg makes a 42inch lcd for around $2800 with a built in harddrive which can act as a media center for your whole setup which will give you many ways to cause "distractions" in your room. the samsung lns4051's are also great sets for around $2500. if your budget is around $2000, i'd recommend a lg, panasonic, samsung, or hitachi plasma.
I am seriously considering buying a Widescreen HD compatible TV but there are so many choices.
Brands I think along the line of JVC, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung. Somewhat stick to name brands.
I look at projection TV's like the LCD, DLP, HD-ILA and other projection are a good price but have bulb life to deal with.
I look at Plasma and LCD you have pixel? issuse or defective spots that may occur.
I am most interested in one that will last longest with a good picture. Which is a better gamble? Bulb life or display screen?
I don't myself watch alot of tv but it's generaly on extremely long hours of the day kinda like a background noise or distraction. What kind of these new tv's stand up to long usage? I'm not so familiar with the latest HDTV's Are there any brands to stick with or stay away from?
The old tube jobs were kinda easy, pick a good brand with options you want and it would generally last quite a long time. My old 19" toshiba which is now my daughters tv has probably been on for 20hrs a day for 4.5 years now. It serves her as entertainment, nightlight, etc lol. The poor thing is almost 14 years old and still has a great picture almost as good as the day I got it.
Is there any chance of finding a Reasonable priced Widescreen HD capible tv that will last at least half that of the old 19 incher?
I'm looking along the lines of 42" or larger, HDMI, PC input, and good sound so I don't have to run my home theater all the time too.