I have the Sharp LCD, and my father wants to trade me for his Panasonic Plasma. The distance is just right for either a 50 or a 42, I watch a lot of TV (some HD satellite, Blu-Rays, SD TV), also play games often. There is no problem with direct sunlight. Both models are pretty old, the LCD being the 60hz kind and plasma being in the day where only rich people had them.
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panasonic can have some problems, so I would stick with the Sharp.