The PS3 is a marvelous piece of equipment, I love mine, but it's not for everyone.
I do have a Harmony 880, and find the bluetooth remote for the PS3 to be a sort of mixed blessing. It's a pain that I have to use a separate remote, but it's a blessing in that if I want to watch something else while waiting for a game demo or video to download on the PS3 I can just mash the "watch tivo" activity button on the 880 and not worry about the PS3 shutting off during the download.
It's a pain in that anytime a button is accidentally pressed on the bt remote the PS3 turns on, even if the remote isn't pointed anywhere near the system, but it's a blessing in that I don't have to point the remote at the PS3 when I WANT to operate it.
As other's have mentioned I love that the PS3 boots and loads very quickly and never stutters or drops out (I've also got several HD DVD players and the PS3 is much more confidence inspiring).
But for a variety of reasons which are important to the OP the PS3 is not the machine for him, and that needs to be respected.
The OP asked for opinions on 3 different standalone players, the Sharp, the Sammy
1400, and the Sony 300.
I work in the electronics dept. of a large Sears store, and we carry all 3. The Sammy is slow to boot and load, and has HDMI handshake problems (perhaps having more to do with the Sammy LCD it's connected to than the player itself).
As for the Sony, we've had one 1st gen. and 2 300s as demo models, none of which worked for more than a couple of weeks before dying. Boot-up is about the same as the Sammy which is about the same as a Tosh HDA3, load time varies according to how much Java stuff there is on the disc.
Our one Sharp's been running strong for several months now, sometimes 24/7 for days at a time as the idiots on the closing shift usually forget to turn it off at night. It's running a BD demo disc that just repeats itself automatically and probably will until hell freezes over. It boots up much quicker than the Sony or Samsung, load time variable but usually faster than the others--still glacial compared to the PS3 though.