@bhome83, Samsung LN40A650 is a good choice but it’s way over your $1000 budget.
Anyway, as someone mentioned, Amtram, among other companies, does make Vizio screen panel. But screen panel is just one part of the equation. The processor and internal electronics are other important parts of the unit. All those considered, in general name brands such as Pioneer, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung are better than cheaper brands.
Also, I think it’s worth spending a few dollars extra for a name brand since you will likely make a one time purchase for its life time (typically 10-20 years).
Since the OP mentioned considering Plasma or LCD, I can only express my own experience. I have a 42" Samsung plasma and compared to friends’ name brand LCDs, it’s not comparable. Plasma has better picture quality.
Now if you are comparing different models of name brand, I would say that everyone have their own preference but one way for sure, you need to demo them in the stores and let your eyes decide.
For HDMI, there is currently sale: 3 pieces of 6 feet HDMI 1.2 for $9 shipped at Meritline. http://www.meritline.com/193-142-003.html
If you prefer other alternative ie HDMI 1.3, Monoprice.com also sells inexpensive (but good) HDMI cables as linked by ricoman.