In real world situations with real world movie watching taking place in over 90% of living rooms across the country, the difference in upscaling of the Oppo will not matter. On certain tests and in certain conditions there's a difference. I've seen the difference first hand. But that difference is rarely noticeable in anything but side by side comparisons. If you came over to my house and watched a SD DVD in my theater and you didn't know which BD player I was using, you would not be able to tell. Period. That's the bottom line. you make it sound like the difference is night and day. it's not. And to get that minute difference in upscaling is not worth the extra $300+ that the Oppo will set people back. Their money is much better spent elsewhere. That's the point. For the vast majority (yes, vast) of users, the Oppo is way more than they need and a waste of money. Going back to your car analogy, it's no different than someone buying that Ferari to drive to work and back every day in rush hour. Is the Ferari great? You bet. Does it win awards? You bet. But it's not needed for the average commuter.
Feature sets, performance, ease of use, and customer service matter to most people when it comes to CE products. A combination of those four factors are what determine the success or failure of any given product, and are the difference in customer satisfaction and customer dissatisfaction.
People want more capabilities not less. I don't care if we're talking about cell phones, PCs, or a microwave, people want the Swiss army knife version of whatever product they are purchasing, and they want it at a good price. The same is true for most people as it applies to blu ray players, and that is demonstrated by the significant increase in feature sets and capabilities over the past two years.
But what has become the ridiculous aspect of this discussion (on both boards I might add), is your attempt to arbitrarily (and wrongly) minimize what features are important to most consumers, and your total disregard for what is clearly being put forth as important to the reviewers themselves.
In reading the reviews of any blu ray player, the Oppo included, there are seven core aspects that every reviewer focuses upon. Load times, Blu Ray video quality, ease of use and set-up, standard DVD upscaling, audio quality, and hardware and software feature sets. The conflict here comes in your posts. The reviewers, and indeed the buying public, find those seven things to be important. By contrast you have essentially said that most people don't need or won't notice any difference in six of the seven core aspects. That is pure nonsense.
There are discernible differences in each of those 7 core aspects that reviewers key upon, and that is what separates the good, from the very good, from the best. That's why most of the reviewers put the Oppo forth as a superb value, and as giving the most bang for the buck. Interesting how the professionals all agree on this point and you do not.
What becomes tiresome is the tit for tat. I bring up load times, and you put forth that other players are as fast. That's fine, except for the fact that multiple reviewers put it forth as the fastest of any player that they've tested, and even outperforming what was widely considered to be the fastest previously. But what gets lost in that tit for tat is that the players that you put forth as faster or as fast as the Oppo (which is dishonest in and of itself) is that they also aren't as good as the Oppo in the other 6 categories that matter. The same holds true for your hair splitting on the other 6 categories as well. There are individual systems that may do one or two things well, but none match the Oppo across all 7 critera.
As I've said now numerous times, if people don't want to spend $500, or don't have $500 to spend, then by all means pick up a cheaper system that gives them most of what they want and need. All I have said is that they need to understand that what they are buying are lesser systems. And despite the fact that you might disagree on that point, all of the reviews would say otherwise. At the same time if one wanted NetFlix, Pandora, YouTube etc etc I would suggest they go with another system, even if that system won't be as good with regard to most of the other areas deemed as important by most reviewers.
Lastly, your comment that most people won't notice a discernible difference with regard to standard DVD upscaling is just flat erroneous. I happened to have a JVC system that -was- considered one of the better upscaling players, and the difference between it and the Oppo was very evident. Night and day? No, but clearly evident - absolutely. This is also another area in which the vast majority of reviewers would disagree with you.
To use another analogy - There is a reason why the iPod is widely considered the best. It has a robust feature set, is easy to use, is made well, tends to render audio and video well etc. It wins awards because of that robust feature set, and because it actually performs well. Do people need it to listen to music? No, and someone like you would say that the average consumer doesn't need it to listen to music. They could of course go to Big Lots and buy whatever is on sale and listen to their MP3s. But if people want the best across the board, and want what caters to both their wants and needs, then they'll get the iPod. The same is true for the Oppo. Take care. J