My HD screen (Sony GWII w/umr mod, 768p), Yamaha 2400 receiver, and Denon 2900 have been my central HT components for the last 3 to 5 years. I plan to upgrade to a 1080p panel and HDMI-based receiver sometime in the next year or so.
I succumbed to the $199 Toshiba HD-A3 just before Christmas. I was so pleased with the HD picture that I decided I had another year or more of enjoyment left on my 4-1/2 year old GWII. My 2900 still easily beats if for SD-DVD through component, though.
I have found that I do not like having still to buy SD-DVDs for non-HD-DVD titles.
So, I am considering purchasing a good but inexpensive BD player, on par with the A3. I plan on connecting it to my HT via component and optical/SPDIF cables. I will defer the advanced BD features that require a 1080p screen, HDMI equipment, and next-gen sound decoding until I upgrade my whole HT.
I am currently considering these two players, in this order (please add or correct as needed):
1. Samsung BDP-1200, refurb'd
Plus: very good BD playback, superior SD-DVD playback via HQV, lowest price, HDMI 1.3 (for later)
Minus: some compatibility complaints with the newest BR discs, no advanced sound format support beyond DD+
2. PS3, 40GB model
Plus: very good BD playback, game machine, computer-like capabilities (web access, photo & home video streaming), already 1.1 profile, fast start and load times, wireless networking
Minus: no remote (that's big for me), significantly higher price than option 1, no lossless sound format support
The Panasonic model sounds truly great but, at nearly 2 c-notes more than option 1, I think this is more bang than I can use for now. By the time the rest of my HT is ready to support those features, then I probably should be considering 2.x profile players or HTPCs. Let me know if I'm incorrect with that conclusion.
What do you recommend?