I realize it's odd to buy a DVD player at this point, especially with the nicer equipment I'm purchasing, but I refuse to choose a camp in the HD-DVD/Blu-ray shootout. When it gets close, lemme know. In the meantime, I had no DVD player and I needed something new.

Instead of going big name, I took a chance on a small company called Oppo, as their players get great reviews. The DV-981HD I purchased uses one of the best upconverting algorythms — Faroudja. Upconverting takes a standard definition signal and converts it to HD. In this case, it can convert it up to 1080p. The DV-981HD's other neat trick is the ability to play just about any format (e.g. SACD, DivX, XVid) so long as it's on a 5-inch optical disc. Aside from those features, it sports all the other stuff you'd expect from a DVD player.

But does it actually look better? Yes, it does. I haven't done a side-by-side comparison, but it's not as grainy. You can't expect a super-sharp picture from a little known film from the 1940s, but it makes newer films look great.

At $229, the player is a great deal. It has the same features as many high-end units, but at a mid-range cost. If you need a DVD player that's not a throw-away, buy this.

Buy it at Amazon
Learn more at Oppo