Both the Samsung and the Toshiba had the dreaded gray bars on either side of 4:3 pictures, but my experience has been that few watch 16:9 TVs with bars of any sort on the side. Most people seem to use one of the zoom modes to make 4:3 pictures fill the screen. Panasonic dealt with the burnin problem with an "Image Shift" feature.
Darker scenes with little contrast (common in soap operas) looked considerably better on all of these sets than on any flat panel I've tested, and far, far better than LCD sets.
The audio capability of these sets was, of course, never overwhelming, but the Panasonic had more bass and a fuller, better sound.
Once carefully adjusted, each of these sets had quite an impressive picture for a low-cost widescreen HDTV. Technically, the Panasonic ran away with most everything, but its inability to hold black was a significant handicap in my book. Ignoring this (which you might but I couldn't), it was clearly the best set in the group. The Samsung was very competitive with no glaring faults, though never a standout. To its credit, though, its unusually thorough service menu made it possible for me to minimize or eliminate most of the complaints I had. The Toshiba looked a touch soft on HD and a touch reddish in color temperature, but could show stunning dark scene contrast and inky blacks that made it crystal clear why CRT still has such a devoted following. I repeat, you can get those blacks on the other two, even right out-of-the-box, but you'll sacrifice the brighter scenes a bit for it. For that reason, the Toshiba, in spite of some mediocre measurements, stole my vote for "Best Picture," as delivered. With an ISF calibration to perfect its grayscale and color decoder, it would look even better. It truly pains me to give best picture to a set that's only best at one thing, but black-level retention is important to me and stood out as the most noticeable difference between these sets once everything adjustable was calibrated to the nines. As a buyer, you'll have to decide how important it is to you.
If you're in the market for a 30” widescreen HDTV, don't let this inexpensive group of CRT sets pass you buy. They might not be as trendy or look as dazzling as the more expensive flat-panel LCD sets, but for dark-room viewing they'll usually blow 'em all away. In addition, these sets, though maybe not quite as highly resolved on HD as the flat panels, were totally free of ugly false-contouring in dark scenes and lower in video noise overall. Of course, 30” is too small for an effective "home theater," but for your bedroom it might just be ideal.