The NAD L73 is a DVD player plus 5-channel receiver. Check it out here.
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If you stick within almost any major product line for both the receiver and DVD player, you often can use a proprietary lin (Denon, Pioneer) and easily connect the two together and control them with a single remote easily. If it is just the remote issue, look into the Harmony universals, they truly can make a difficult system easy to use. My family can use my reference system without ever calling me since I got one, and my system would be almost impossible for even my to remember all the intricacies of without it!
There are some made by NAD. The one you are referring to which only has two channels is the L53. The L73 is the one with the 5.1 channels. There are also older NAD models, like the L70. You can find these for under $500. Check Videogon as well as Audiogon since the two sites don't always have the same gear listed.
There are also some discontinued Sony models that you can find for under $500. One model is the AVD-s50es. There is another one but I can't remember the model number.
And even though it may make me the subject of derision, you can always look at Bose. If this is for a non-audiophile friend of your parents, and they are technologically challenged, Bose hit this market very well. I know a number of parents who have Bose gear and they think it's great. It's not high end but they think its the best, especially with theose little speakers and the sub hidden behind a chair. Don't discount Bose if you think this person might fit the Bose marketing profile. But buy used if you consider it an option. Their new equipment is overpriced IMO.
Separates are better.
The Denon 4806 has multiple user settings.
So your wife could be 'user' #1 and have all the things set up for her and never changed by anyone else.
Then the kids can be user #2 and you can be user#3
Each is independent.
I am certain many other receivers have such a feature, just for the reason you mention.