Best picture from an under $400 DVD player

It has been a while since I posted, but I am back. Hello to everyone!!! Quick question? I just purchased a 50 inch Panasonic plasma screen (TH-50PHD8UK) for a new condo (Yes...for those of you wondering..I did finally use the money from my old system to buy my first place). I am looking for the best picture possible from a DVD player under $400 (and to be honest.. preferably under $300). The audio quality of the DVD player (cover your ears audiophiles) is irrelevant to me as this will only be running through the TV's add on speakers. I am more then willing to buy new or used. Thank you for your suggestions.


P.S. For those of you wondering..I am now in the D.C. area.

Are you going to be connection to the TV via an HDMI cable? If so, the Oppo 971 is generally considered to have the best picture quality via HDMI, regarless of price. It tested better at "The Secrets of Home Theater" than any other player ever tested (including multi-thousand dollar players).

The Oppo 971 cost $199 direct from Oppo.


My only concern is that in order to get audio I will have to use a rca to headphone plug (as audio is not transfered via the DVI output). I am curious if that will significantly hinder the sound quality coming from the player. In other words, will I get excess noise using a headphone jack into my TV?
Yep the Oppo is king, but if you need to run it Via component Video stay away from the oppo and you will get the best picture in that case from a Denon, most of them are excellent and very close in performance, but to get one close to equal to the Oppo with the Sage/Genisis chip set and all that you may have to buy used, or extend above 500.00 and purchase a Denon universal.

Why would you have to use an RCA to headphone jack? Doesn't the TV have regular stereo input RCA jacks? I would think you would just go RCA analog L&R outputs from the DVD player to L&R RCA inputs on the TV. This would be the same audio connection even if you are using Component video for the video connection.

If the TV supports HDMI or DVI, I would get the Oppo for picture quality.

Hey Dan,
Whereabouts in DC are you? I'm downtown, Shaw/Logan. Good to have more Goners in the hood, welcome!
P.S. I have a Samsung HD841 that's a pretty nice player for the price. Usually around $150 or so.
My TV only has a 1/8 jack input for audio when using the DVI board so in order to do audio I will have to go RCA out to the 1/8 inch jack. I spoke with Oppo and they said that iw would work without problem up to roughly 30 feet. I only need a 10 foot run so I am going with the oppo. Here is a link to my DVI board (

Thanks for the help.

P.S. I am in the Ballston area
I see, well if you like wine at all there's a real cool little store in Clarendon called Best Cellars. I'm in the wholesale wine biz and that's a good account of mine with lots of fun wines. It should be quite close to you. Also for a restaurant recommendation on that same block of Clarendon Blvd check out Harry's Tap Room, great food and a cool bar scene. Sorry to hijack the thread and welcome to the area!

Thanks for the suggestions. I will be sure to check them out!!!!
I just went on a similar hunt...I do go off the deep end for my seperate (2-channel) audio needs but look for economy/value in my home theatre stuff...I auditioned a bunch of DVD players in that price range...dollar for dollar, NAD products absolutely blow away any of the Mass Market brands...NAD strives for simplicity and you may not get all those features (that you will never use anyway) but you will get incredible video and sound quality...for just a little more.

I ended up purchasing the T-514 for about 280 after tax from an authorized dealer...the difference in picture quality compared to the base Sony...was as drastic as the jump from VCR to DVD!

How the heck are ya? Where is Ballston?

Dan, if you decide you want to splurge a little more on your video set-up, may I suggest you get one of the Panasonic digital receivers, which run less than $300 I believe. With these, you can take the coax S/PDIF out from the Oppo directly to the Panasonic. Hook up two decent, small speakers and you will think it's the best money you've ever spent on home entertainment. This is ehat I've done. With a 50" plasma display, you need better sound than what comes out of the display. Two channel home theatre is great.