I'm planning to get Panasonic 42" G25 Plasma. Been doing a lot of researching for my next TV and I keep hearing great stuff about it (from AVS forum). You might want to check it out. Right now it's under $1,000 which is just right for my budget.
54" one is like close to $1.5k or less depends on where you buy it from. Also I suggest you to purchase extended warranty from SquareTrade. It's cheap and excellent customer service.