Panasonic's plasma range may not be able to fight it out with Pioneer on the image quality front, but for those that can't afford a 50in Kuro, Panasonic is the clear-cut next-best option. The just-announced 11-series, then, is worth a look boasting as it does systems all the way from a 42in set all the way up to a 65in model.
The 42in TH-42PH11EK/ES packs a 1,024 x 768 resolution while the 50in TH-50PH11EK/ES packs a 1,366 x 768 panel. Both of these TVs sport 1,400cd/m2 brightness ratings and 15,000:1 contrast ratios which should give them pretty good black levels and colour reproduction - albeit not to Kuro standards. These particular sets in the range also offer improved life spans up from 40,000 hours to 100,000; hardly a piddling increase!
Moving up to the Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 domain, Panasonic has the 42in TH-42PF11EK , 50in TH-50PF11EK, 58in TH-58PF11EK and the 65in TH-65PF11EK, all of which offer slightly lesser brightness of 1,200 cd/m2 versus their lower-resolution siblings, but with higher 30,000:1 contrast ratios that's hardly an issue.
The 42in and 50in models, both HD ready and Full HD, are available now if you're of the German persuasion with the other sizes trickling out in December. The rest of us will probably see localised launches pre-Christmas, too, if you want my guess.
Panasonic Germany (Google translated).