Things to look for in a "DVD" player:
Verify that it can at least play CD-r's, CD-RW's, etc...
Has multiple audio / video outputs. This way you can connect directly to your TV and the stereo / processor at the same time and use either at any specific time. MUCH more convenient than using splitters, etc...
Does the unit have a built in processor i.e. can it be hooked up directly to a multi-channel amp and operate all of the surround functions by itself ? Is the unit DTS capable ?
Verify what type of digital outputs the unit offers. Some budget models only have an optical jack. Others have only a coaxial jack. Better models have both. Don't limit yourself now when you never know what future applications may hold. It's cheaper to buy something "decent" now than end up buying another one sometime shortly down the road.
While i'm not suggesting this brand or model, Apex just came out with a "universal player" last week. It plays DVD's, CD's, CD-R's, CD-RW's, MP3's AND also BOTH SACD and DVD-A and offers "karoake" !!!! List price is $350, which is quite reasonable. Build quality on the Apex machines that i've seen is quite questionable though, so i would do a LOT of "inspecting" before dumping money into a throw-away device. Might be quite interesting though... Sean