First Plasma/LCD purchase ever - a few questions..

My budget is under $1k and considering 37" - 42" sizes.

Any issues buying from Best Buy?
Any issues buying open stock/demo to save $$?
BB salesman told me I need to have the TV professionally calibrated on a regular basis. Can I DIY this process instead?
Plasma and LCD - does one require more maintenance (calibration) than the other?
And of course, the salesman wants me to buy the top-of-the-line warranty service. I've never ever bought any extended warranty on anything in my life. But is this, or any costly service contract, necessary for these TVs (plasma/lcd)?

I'd be happy to hear about your experiences related to these questions.

Thank you (in advance).
best buy makes the lion share of its profits from warranties and services; consequently they're incentivized to sell you calibration, extended warranties, etc. if it were my money i'd go online to newegg, buydig or that ilk and buy a top brand (samsung, panasonic, toshiba) 42" model (easily attainable for <1000 incl. shipping)and spend 20 bucks on a self-calibrating dvd. plasma still probably has a marginally better picture, and definitely wider viewing angles; lcd is cheaper to run and better in bright rooms, but the differences are small. check dealmac for online bargains.
You can go to the home theater forums and AVS forums (audio visual forums) as well as some on-line reviews to get the proper settings for many plasma and LCD TV's. Or, as suggested above, you can get a calibration DVD. I would not spend the money on ISF calibrations and extended warranties. I still like the large plasma TVs (50" and over) better than LCDs but the differences are getting smaller all the time. Plasmas use more energy but have better blacks and LCDs are better in bright roooms. If you go 50" or larger try a panasonic plasma or pioneer kuro. If you are going for a 40'-46' try the samsung LCDs. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences. If you live in NJ/NY check the 6ave circulars as they are clearing out plasmas (58" panasonics for around $2500 and 50" sets for $1000 OR LESS DEPENDING UPON WHETHER THEY ARE 720 OR 1080 SETS) or check their website at
I recently purchased a Sony 37" XBR6 LCD (to fit a tight closet installation) from Best Buy, a 42" $745 RCA LCD from CostCo, and a 60" Pioneer Elite from Axxis Audio in Colorado.

BEST BUY: It's simply foolish to let a sales person or the displays at Best Buy sway your purchasing decision in any way other than an offer of a lower price. Best Buy's lowest price can easily be beat. It' important to know exactly what you want and what the lowest price that unit is being sold for nationally B&H Photo in NY is a good place to start but even their prices aren't the lowest. The idea is that you have a fairly good knowledge of what a product can be sold for and the seller is still making a profit.

The one positive aspect I received from my Best Buy purchase was a bundled certified (IFxxx?) calibration for $140. I shopped around locally and the best I could get a calibration done for was $345. Historically Sony CRT's were very well dialed in out of the box but this is a new era. My XBR was running at 8000 Kelvin (I believe 5600 is the norm). I'm not sure if there would be a situation were you would need to have a set recalibrated. Once calibrated the LCD's superior brightness is simply a result of a higher Kelvin setting. My Sony gained more depth and a more realistic picture quality as a result of calibration.

The Sony scans at 120Hz and there is defiantly motion artifacts as there are in the best Samsung's (my neighbors). The life span of an LCD is said to be much shorter compared to current plasmas.

COSTCO: The RCA was a purchased based on price and size. The picture quality is surprisingly good and I'd rather have a slightly lesser quality picture on a bigger display any day and this was my son's choice. CostCo offers a limited Concierge Service that can be upgraded for a reasonable price. It's basically very good phone support. If the phone support fails to remedy the problem the they will send a technician for the first 30 or 90 days.

AXXIS AUDIO: The positive experiences by people on the AVS forum lead me to Axxis. I still had trepidation over the shipping of such a fragile and expensive component. A call to Axxis relieved me. I was told to open the carton before the driver left. If the screen was cracked to put it right back on the truck, call and another would be shipped that day. The Pioneer comes very well packed and all was well. The other components I purchased from Axxis were shipped UPS. The display was delivered within 20 minutes of their ETA.

Axxis emailed the next day to confirm delivery. I save just over $1900 over the Best Buy/Magnolia price for this plasma so I splurged on a calibration. I couldn't see any difference after calibration except on the technicians laptop and those were very slight. In hind sight I could of easily lived without the calibration on this plasma. Any warranty concerns can be directed to Pioneer who will in turn direct you to their nearest service center.

This plasma is in a very brightly sunlit room and the picture is not affected. After calibration both the Sony and the Elite are similar in brightness with the edge going to the plasma as are most other aspects of picture quality. If the only display in your house is a 120Hz scanning LCD motion blur may not be an issue. Living with both the shortcoming becomes obvious. Even my neighbor felt somewhat shortchanged after comparing his top of the line Samsung to the plasma during the NFL playoffs.