-- It looks like you need to open another catagory, "Even Lower Budget"
. There are a number of upconverting players out now post 6/1/2006) that are under $150, MSRP. The most talked about, in the AVS threads, are the new Oppo 970H, Samsung's, Sony's (NS75H & NC85H), and Toshiba's (under $100).
Most, if not all, of these stricly adhere to the HDMI rules and are not hackable to provide upscaling over their component outputs, IIRC. The Sony's (I have the NS75H) have the latest design Sony chips, which fix the problems that the older NS70H and NC80H (5-disc changer version) had. The Sony's are Region 1 and NTSC only (the US versions) and are not "hackable" to Region Free or PAL, AFIK. The Oppo 970 may not be "hackable" (but will play PAL DVDs) and I haven't been following the Sammy's & Tosh's.