I agree that there is no easy or “straightforward” software method of converting PAL to NTSC. Regardless of the claims of such by Nero Vision Express or dvdSanta … it will not really produce very good results. The results may look only a bit flawed but acceptable (depending on your opinion) on a regular TV with a simple, low bandwidth composite cable (three pronged red, white or black, and yellow) connecting the player to the TV. But will look terrible on a regular TV or HDTV with a higher bandwidth component cable (three pronged red, green, blue) connection from the player especially if the player is set to play in “Progressive Scan” mode to either type of TV. The “frames per second” playback differences between PAL and NTSC formats become much more apparent with higher bandwidth playback.
As mentioned by Gurm, the higher end software products will work better but it is a complex set of steps to set up and so time consuming that it is hardly worth the while to do over and over to convert PAL for each original you own.
You should indeed go for a PAL compatible player solution. The cheap player route is one solution. Take a region free PAL format backup disk (made with AnyDVD running) to the stores and check out compatibility with different players. Or spend a little money and get a good conversion player here:
Make sure the model you choose states that it has a “Built-in Video Converter” to be able to play your PAL backup disks on your R1-NTSC Standards television. I like the JVC conversion player I bought from them. The other feature to maybe look for is that a player be able to play backup formats of -R, +R (or at least +R bitset/booktyped to DVD-ROM) and also play Dual Layer backup media.