Panasonic's 50-inch TH-50PHD8UK plasma TV

Panasonic Plasma TV

Ok, so the model number is long, we admit, but in exchange for that cryptic name — and $3,000 of your hard earned dollars — you’re going to be gifting one of the finest plasma images around. Panasonic isn’t hard to recommend, with their fine picture and low prices, and the TH-50PHD8UK is no exception, with a 3,000:1 contrast ratio, 1366 x 768 resolution, great image scaling from progressive scan DVD and other low-res signals, and a low frills design that bucks the unnecessaries (like lame built-in speakers) — all of which brings this one in it at a very low price for a 50-inch plasma. Oh, and if you’re scared the gift of plasma won’t keep on giving, the display has a listed lifespan of 60,000 hours and virtually no image burn. If you’re not quite up to spending $3,000 for a display without a tuner, then Panny’s TH-42PX50U might do the trick with its ATSC/QAM HDTV tuner, CableCARD slot, HDMI input, and dual-tuner picture-in-picture. Those “frills” won’t cost you much either, since this 1024 x 768, 3000:1 42-inch plasma can be scored for around $2400. Either display should make an HDTV enthusiast, DVD aficionado, or really anyone with a decent set of eyeballs very happy this year.