Well, here's an update and it's mixed.
5U number 2 has a tape transport that actually works.
The bad news is I can't get the player to send greater than 720x480 to an HDCP projector, i.e., no HD on HDMI. There may be a trick but I can't find it. No permutations of the options will trigger it and I obviously looked at all of them, changed startup order, etc. The documentyation says that it will go to the highest supported resolution of the interface... not (1400x788 or 1280x720 or 1080i etc.
Interested to see how Kurt does with his cable, I assumed you were going HDMI all along.
As far as ergonomic the VCR is a leap ahead of the 30K. Actual buttons for transport control so no running between rooms for the remote. The unit has intuitive stream controls. It was a treat to hear Master & Commander in DTS, except for the DVD video resolution
We'll I may have to do a temporary slide in of the 5U for the 30K, but that limits the comparison.
So to answer an earlier question, at least for my JVC HX1U, the answer is the 30K soundly beats the crippled 5U HDMI output.