I went to update the recommended players list and found that this entire entry was missing.
As a lot of DVD players double as CD players well enough for most people, I won't cover this much. I will note that I am pretty happy with a Sony 300 CD changer that I have, it has done very well, the model number is CDP-CX355. An alternative is to use a computer to rip/encode/store/play mp3/ogg/aac/whatever files. An HTPC can perform jukebox functionality.
The picture dims and brightens
If it does this on a repeated cycle, often around ten seconds, then likely something is being affected by Macrovision. Try playing a CPM or ADV title to see if it still happens, if not, it is likely Macrovision. First, make sure you are not passing the signal through a VCR or any other video recording device, as they are notorious for this problem because Macrovision was designed to screw up VHS decks. If you cannot use A/V jacks and you still need to use the antenna connection, buy an external modulator, available nearly everywhere DVD players are sold. A few TVs are affected by Macrovision as well. If the TV is valuable, the best solution is to mod the DVD player.
Some people find swirl marks, discolorations and dimples. Thanks to Iridium, dimples in the metal layer have
been shown to give reader problems, but I guess the jury is out on discolorations. I suggest running cd-dvd speed to see if there are any huge spikes anywhere except maybe at the red line often between 4 and 4.5 GB on the graph.
This site nicely covers a broad range of possible video quality problems you might find on a DVD:
Video Artefacts Site
Case Hub types
I hope to mirror Kessinger's old site some time. Edit
Forum user Iridium has a picture gallery
featuring many DVD case types.
The player you want to get depends on how what you want to use it. I would like to have a list of recommended players by price class.
The only reason this should be any consideration is if you plan to buy an HDTV or progressive scan TV. Players with the Faroudja 2200 deinterlacing chips are most recommended, followed by Silicon Image chips, opinion varies about the Faroudja 2300 based players that seem to add macroblocking. If you plan to keep using the player on a regular TV for a few years, you do not need to worry about progressive scan. Denon DVD-1600, Panasonic XP50, XP30, CP72 & RP82 are all very highly recommended for their progressive scan output quality. These models are all out of production.
Edit: Oppo Digital - OPDV971H is now the latest recommendation for a progressive DVD player. This has the problematic Faroudja 23xx chip. Also, if you have a TV with progressive in but no DVI in, you are completely out of luck, I consider this to be a major flaw and useless for the possibly millions of component-only "HD Ready" sets out there.
This is one case where a computer is more compatible. Set-top DiVX compatibility is still in a bit of a flux and the players that support them have tended to have poor reliability reputation. Momitsu V880 and KISS DP-500 players are the current front runners, for what it is worth, the KISS model has the distinction of official certification
. This is old and the recommendation may not be valid anymore.