I believe the 9000 ES is the best value. I own the SCD-1 and continue to be extremely pleased (2 years). I would look into the Pioneer DVAX-10. I know nothing about it, but if Darrell is correct that may be the state-of-the art today in affordable units. The Marantz is fine, but I think over priced for what you get.
My opinion is the same today as it was when I first baught my unit. Get in now, enjoy the upgrade in music and wait for the next generation. To not get in is wrong in my opinion, too much gained and little risked. In the next few years some great players with more to offer will come out, and I'll be there to buy, but today I'm loving the music and building a library. Yes the selection is limited, so what! The redbook is better than I had with similiar priced standard players and I have SACD, I can hardly go wrong. That is why I believe the 9000ES is the best value. Offers all thats avalible at a great price and gets you in and enjoying the benifits of the new tech.