What is the use of this TV? Causal TV watching, movies, video games, PC stuff?
Generally here'* the pro'* of each type of panel.
Higher contrast/Better Blacks
No Lag picture
Better Viewing angles
Longer usable life (manufacturers list 60k Hrs to half brightness, vs 60k hours to "unusable" for LCD)
Can go brighter (99% of TV'* are too bright from the factory settings however)
Matte Screens diffuse reflections great, and in bright rooms they're MUCH more visible
Lower power consumption
Lighter weight (My parent'* 46" Sony XBR4 LCD weighs less than my 42" Sammy Plasma)
I got this plasma
in November because the picture blew away anything else near it'* price. I don't see HP'* on any best selling list in the market, or sorting by BBuy'* "best sellers" online.
Another thing to consider on your budget is DLP. Some DLP sets are VERY competitively priced, and give you over 50" of screen space. In the long run you have to buy lamps however, so a service plan is a good idea with them... They're not super huge, but they're not a flat panel.