The Philips 963 is a good choice. Retail price is $499 but it's available for less than $400 online. It's a single disc player, both very nice video and CD performance.
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A very inexpenisve option is the Pioneer DVD DV 563A, $180 MSRP but typically $150 online. It gives me 90% of my Denon DVD 3800 (which is filmlike on my Mitsubishi HDTV). Furthermore, it's a "universal player" - mulichannel SACD, DVD-Audio, CDR, etc...., quite versatile. However, the audio is "thin" which is to be expected for this price point (compared to the 3800 or Sony 9000ES but we're talking 5x the cost). However, if you crave excellent sonics AND picture, you might want to keep exploring other options.
I would also look at a Philips DVD963SA (that is, if you wants a good picture and good sound at a low cost). Otherwise, I would consider looking for a used Sony DVP-NS999ES.
If neither one of these suit your fancy, then I guess you may have to opt for a sub $200.00 Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony or Toshiba.
Unfortunately, in the world of DVD Players, it's either the "haves or the have nots". And what I mean by that is if it's great performance that you seek, then you may have to opt for a high-end machine like one of the Arcams, a Pioneer Elite machine or a Sony ES machine (and as you requested, Denon has been taken out of the running and therefore, has been eliminated from consideration). Otherwise, you may have to consider the low cost spreads from the likes of Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba (unless the Philips DVD963SA is more to your liking (and the Philips is in your price range as well)).