I have two different Toshiba models that I like. He could always add an outboard DAC later.
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I own the Oppo and I'm impressed. The company is located near Mountain View CA, in the silicon valley and order conformation and shipping was efficient and fast. From my online order I had my unit in 6 days.
I also own the Panasonic DVD-S97. Also highly rated, it is more expensive (Paid about 260$). The "Secrets of home theater" website has a "shootout" that rates several players and is an excellent reference. The link is as follows:
Once at the site, find the "Shootout" reference. You will want the 2006 study. Or use their search feature to find Oppo and the Panasonic DVD-S97. I have seen aftermarket mods for the Oppo turning it into a super machine. I know that's not what you're looking for, but bear in mind that usually only the "worthy" machines are used for mods. Hope this helps.
The build quality on the Marantz I know is excellent. They have consistently been on a short-list for lower budget cd players and I know that some of the technology from the higher end models filter down to the lower ones. I don't know about state-of-the-art as I prefer a simple two-channel system. Check out the reviews and also check out Accessoriesforless.com who is an authorized Marantz online seller.