I got mine about a week ago at Soundsaround for lower than the Crutchfield advertised price. (We are still talking about > USD $300. Do you consider this expensive?) Where are you in Canada? Do you have a Soundsaround close by?
The only new models that have come out in the past few months with the Faroudja chipset are the Mitsubishi DD-8040 ($250 at Tweeter) and the Denon DVD-910 ($299) and DVD-1200 ($399). The Denon DVD-1600 is a couple year old design and is being (or will soon be) discontinued, selling now for around $300. The Panasonics with Faroudja have long since been discontinued, and they are not producing any new models with Faroudja. Your only other choice is too look for a used model of the good older Panasonics on EBAy - they usually sell for $200-400, except for RP62's which are under $100 but many have reported they fail (cheap motor) after only 8 months, so its not really a bargain plus it has acolor flicker bug that the others lack.
I just bought a new factory sealed Panasonic XP50 on ebay! I paid a little too much, but I thought I would go ahead and get it since they are hard to find. I think there is another one listed now by a different seller. Search for "Panasonic RP82". The seller I think has (XP50 or XP-50) and "like RP82" in the title.
Yeah, that was me. I think they call it "sniping". I really wanted it, so I waited until the last 15 seconds, then pulled the trigger. I paid a little too much, but it is really nice! Received it yesterday.
I got my Panasonic XP30 in the mail today (from an EBAY auction) and it works perfectly. I got a Mitsubishi DD-8040 last week from Tweeter for a similar price, I will take it back now since the XP30 is superior. But if I couldn't get it, the Mitsubishi is fine 2nd choice and readily available new in stores. I confirmed the XP30 is sharper and confirmed its flat frequency response on a scope, also its lack of color flicker bug. The XP30 also plays all types of DVDs (I tested DVD-R,RW,+R,+RW) also VCD and SVCD on CDR/RW worked too. The Mitsubishi also reads all the DVD types and VCD but not SVCD. The load times were similar for all types about 8sec.
The only panasonic models that have quite a few failure reports (usually after 7-8 months of use) are the CP72 and the RP62. The RP82, XP30, XP50 models have an excellent reliability record however, so don't blame all the Panasonic models. The changer model has mechanical problems that don't affect the single disc models, and the RP62 used a very cheap motor that fails, the other models use better hardware.
I've had equipment that's lasted for 20 years or more. 8 months is unacceptable.
We buy equipment based on name brand, after taking into account features. I don't expect a cheap, no-name asian brand to last, but I do expect Panasonic to back up their products, and to have some sort of quality control. Maybe I'm expecting too much.
Most consumers are not as logical and forgiving as you. A bad experience would quite often doom an entire brand from a consumer's future purchase decisions. And I'm talking about ALL product lines.
In this case if someone had a bad experience with a DVD player from Panny, it is quite normal that he/she would become cautious buying DVD players again from Panny.
My RP62 and XP30 are both quite new. Before these I have two non-Panny players for over 5 five years without any problem. (They are still working but retired.) If my Panny players don't last more than 3 years it will definitely leave me with a negative impression of build quality of Panasonic DVD players.
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