larrimore - great comments and analysis. My wife and I watched the movie Conspiracy Theory (she put it the Netflix queue) and aside from the fact that it was a lousy movie, the transfer was excellent. Its an older DVD, no menus or other foolishness eating up space, therefore all space can be devoted to the film. Some of the scenes were as close to HD quality as I've ever seen from a non-HD/BD player. I also viewed some scenes from Back to the Future III, which was a dissapointing transfer, but still managed to look OK, and certainly better with the sharp mode on than off.
On my setup (RS1x onto SeymourAV CenterStage 104" screen) I found the settings we made at Ron's were correct - Sharp mode enabled and PJ sharpness down to -2. I also ended up turning a very slight amount of DNR on (2 out for 30) which seemed to clean up the picture nicely and didn't noticeably soften the picture. Now I wonder if this noise was due to the poor quality transfer of BTTF III which I was using while tweaking around. The color mode was very effective and the scenes at the end of that movie looked great - Clara's bright purple dress and the colored smoke from the smokestack - without affecting fleshtones. I used Avia to due a rough color cal (using the blue view strip) and wouldn't you know it when I turned the color mode on the blue bars went to perfect levels. The RS1 has over saturated colors so without gamut corrections the remedy is to turn the color control down to avoid that sunburned look and artificial colors. For me about -12 works best at retaining enough color while mitigating flesh tones. But this is obviously far from perfect using the flashing blue bars thru the blue filter. When I enabled color mode, the saturation bars went to near perfect levels while maintaining the proper flesh and other neutral tones so I found it to be pretty effective.
I agree the menus are very limited, but in all honesty I hardly ever use them on my existing player. I also don't have any DVD-A or SACDs, so that's not a concern. All I need is a bare-bones video player with good up-conversion and 24fps output and the XDE500 is that. I am happy to report that the player does output 96kHz digital audio from DAD discs. Also, I'm using it no problem on port 1 of the monoprice 5x1 HDMI switcher.
I did have one or two small problems, though. First, while viewing scenes from BTTF III, I somehow got the player stuck in a mode where the picture got shifted to the left about 15%, and the missing part mysteriously appeared on the right hand side separated by a thin vertical black strip. Stopping and re-starting, going to menus, even the stop mode splash screen all continued to display this problem, I had to power cycle to clear it. Anyone ever seen this on this or another Zoran based player? Also, I noticed during several scene cuts, probably near chapter points, that the appearance of some aliasing was obvious for a second or two, probably due to bad flags and it dropping back to video mode (which is a bit disastrous when in 24fps mode, its also creates a very juddery motion.) Both of these discs are on the older side. I found it mildly annoying, but I can probably live with it. For me the benefits outweigh the small issues, certainly at this price point.