Sound like your talking your self out of getting a HDTV. Big screens (50"+) will always cost some chunk of change. You can get a panasonic plasma that will last you 15-20 years for around $1300.
You can get real nice 60"+ RP HD tv with a great PQ for around $2000-2500 now days, lamps cost about $250 & last 2-3 years.
Yes some of the cheap brand tvs' have reliability issues.
Flat planel tv's are just getting start, LCD & Plasma are filler tv's for now, you got lasser RP, OLED, SED & FED tv's in the works. It took 40-50 years for CRT tv's to get where there at now.
HDTV is still in its very early days. Lots of makers, lots of models, lots of choices. And high prices. Just like computers, VHS recorders, and CD players in their early days.
So, I could wait five or ten years for a $2500 TV to settle down to around $500. But I don't feel like waiting that long. So, can anybody give me some good reasons to shell out, oh, $1800 or $2200 for a 42" HDTV when there are some available for under $1000? If the cheap set's picture quality is identical to the expensive ones around it (some aren't, but some are), and if sound quality doesn't matter because it's going to be run through the home stereo system anyway, the only advantage I can see would be that higher quality might equal a longer life. Yeah, if I shell out a thousand clams for one of these toys, I want it to last for ten years or more. (All my older ones did; why shouldn't the new one?) Can somebody with some technical knowledge tell me where the price line is between reasonable quality and cheap trash? And what about brand names? Is it worth the price premium to get a known name instead of a no-name? Any junk makers out there that are going to be out of the market in a year or two?