There a Pioneer DV-343 available from Amazon for $150.00, decent enough for a non-progressive scan DVD player and it can always be modded later by Dan Wright or Stan Warren, if they are interested in better sound.
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If your friend wants to save some real money, then check out the DVD/CD player made by Apex. It has gotten surprisingly good write-ups, and offers good features including progressive scan. The Apex is made in China, and is one of the technology-based products that China is introducing into the US at dirt-cheap prices to gain a foothold in our market. I was inclined to dismiss this product as junk until I read several reviews which had very positive comments about its build and video quality.
My local "Good Guys" store (or maybe it was "Circuit City" was advertising the Apex for $110 this past weekend.
Aloha from Hawaii:
I bought a Denon DVD player from Sears about 3 months ago. Formally a $400 player, it was being blown out by Sears around the country for $200. Have your friend call around to local Sears and see if any are still in stock.
Much better than the cheapie models sold for $200 or less. Heavy duty player, weighs 8 lb. I believe, almost twice as heavy as most entry level players.
My local audio dealer claims that current DVD players will be dead/obsolete in two years, due to new HDTV technology and the need for DVD players to become compatible with that technology. Not sure how much truth is in it, but his advice was don't invest much now. So $200 sounds about right for a machine. You can check www.audioreview.com for comments on the Denon machine. Like all players, there are some complaints about lip synch problems, but my machine has operated flawlessly and it is very quiet.
Ditto for the inexpensive Pioneer DV-343 plus the Stan Warren Mod. But you may also want to check out the Toshiba SD-1700 (which you can get from Best Buy for $149.00), or the new Progressive Scan Toshiba SD-3750 (for $179.00, also at Best Buy). Let us know what you decide on.
In reference to the Apex players you are talking about, where can the reviews about these players can be found at?? Because I am still inclined to look at those players as junk until I see reviews that say otherwise. I know that they can be found at your local Best Buy or Circuit City. In fact, I saw one at Best Buy this past weekend priced at $99.00. I know if I am paying a mint for a DVD Player, I'll be willing to take the risk on a high-end player that has little recognition if it has some sort of pedegree going for it (a.k.a. "Camelot"). But for just $200.00?? I think I would probably stick with Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony and Toshiba.
I don't know how much truth there is to hold onto in reference as to how far the state-of-the-art in HDTV will have advanced in about two years. So I may have to reserve some judgement until about that time. But I think that my Pioneer Elite DV-37 will still be compatible with the newer HDTVs that may come out during that time. Now, I am also leaning very hard toward getting another DVD Player since the DV-37 is going to take up permanent residency in my audio system. Now, for the player that's going to replace my DV-37 in my home theater system??? I don't think I am going to spend that much on a player this time around. Because the way I look at it from my situation, I have just saved $1,000.00 by just experimenting with the DV-37 in my audio system a few weekends ago, and came away pleasantly surprised. Now, with the DV-37 being plugged into my audio system and with the current crop of budget DVD Players being as good as they are, I think that sub $200.00 player would do just fine for watching movies right now, and I don't think that I really need to spend any more than that anyway. When I get my HDTV in either late 2002 or in early 2003, I am going to put that set in my living room and just add a high-end home theater to my audio system then, in which then, the DV-37 will go back to being a DVD Player again. Saving $1,000.00 so that I can spend only $200.00??? I'll take that trade-off anytime.