If you've already got a resonable equipped PC at home (800Mhz+) you may wish to try the HTPC (home theater PC route) to see if you like that, and then decide whether to build a dedicated machine with everything else that's needed to not make it seem like a PC.
A cheap Radeon video card (9000 series) for $100 coupled with TheaterTek software DVD player ($70) is preferred by many.
I struggled with this choice also. I even built up a pretty powerful PC with the idea that it could do double duty. I finally chose the NRS for a couple of reasons. The most important one was that it simplified the operation of my theater so that my family could use it without a lot of hassle. I actually switch everything that they use with S video through the processor. I have one DVD player connected through component directly to the NRS. My Panasonic TUHDS20 has svid for them and a direct connection to the second input on the PJ for HD via RGBHV. The family watches everything they want without having to change aspect etc. They know which DVD's need to be switched to anamorphic and it is one button push on the front panel.
The picture on the 8500LC is very, very good. It can be better but it would require a very complicated control system or a processor that we simply could not afford. The NRS is the single most costly piece in our system. It was not easy to cough up the dough. I got very lucky on the PJ and I felt like it would be wise to get the best picture with the least hassle. We watch a lot of video sourced material and it does what it can for the sat feeds. I looked at a few other devices and did a lot of reading for about 8 months. When I bought last summer it was the best choice for us.
I bought from an authorized dealer and I did not have any trouble with customer service. I had direct contact with three diferent people at Faroudja that all responded to my emails promptly. I have not delt with them since some of those people have left, but I have not had a reason to either. I know that there is plenty of feedback here about troubles with them, but I had a display that was compatible with a standard version of the NRS and did not have any trouble getting them to work together.
If you have trouble parting with your money like me, try a viewsonic vb50hrtv. For $100 it will give you 1024x768 @ 60khz . I have been very happy with mine on my marquee 9000 and a 10 foot wide screen.
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