Need advice, Home Theater DVD player

Hello everyone. I’m building a home theater and I still have a 1999-era DVD player made by Pioneer. It’s been a wonderfully compatible and reliable unit but I think I can do better. Here’s why I want to upgrade.

I am the type who takes meticulous care of my CDs and other optical media. Not everyone is like this, and lately I have been renting DVDs from Netflix and other places, and having difficulty viewing them. One problem my Pioneer unit has always had is that it occasionally loses the audio track, even on the perfect surface of a new DVD. Some of these rental discs are not in the best condition but honestly they are not scratched too terribly. Yet it can be impossible to make it through some of them without it becoming necessary to skip forward a chapter and scanning backward, since the Pioneer unit will choke on these discs. Performance does not degrade gracefully, and sometimes the unit will stop responding entirely to control input when it encounters an area of a DVD which is unreadable.

So primarily what I’m looking for is a reliable unit with solid optical performance and graceful recovery from dust / scratches. I’m looking for something akin to those great Lite-On readers for PC which have excellent data extraction capability even on a suboptimal disc. I want something that is low-key, just give me pristine picture and audio please. I don’t care too much about the bells and whistles and blinky lights, and in fact I’d love to never have to deal with them.

Component video and digital audio outs are a must. I’d like a unit with a solid remote, but really who cares. I don’t care about progressive scan since my $9000 projector probably has a better deinterlacing engine anyway. I’d like to spend less than $500 on this.

Can someone with experience please help me out? Thank you!