Although my current DVD players of choice a recent Pioneer models, I checked out Sony DVP-NS710H/B upconverting DVD player. I was recently impressed with the Pioneer DV-220V-K and Pioneer DV-420V-K. The Sony NS710 is a solid performer overall, but I tend to prefer the aforementioned Pioneers. See below why.
Despite the advent of the Blu-Ray, regular DVDs are plentiful, inexpensive to buy and to rent and the current crop of upconverting DVD players makes them (arguably) look close to Blu-Ray and definitely much better than older non-upconverting non-HDMI DVD players. After being a Panasonic DVD player fan for a long time, I discovered Pioneer DVD players. Panasonic DVD players are still good, but they were getting more and more cheaply-made and their performance didn't seem to improve much. In fact, they regressed in some areas, e.g. responsiveness.
Panasonic players were also only semi- reliable. I saw "semi-" because I had at least two of them expire with a drive motor failure. Granted they were in severe use for over 3 years each, but still, when you shell out decent bucks (Panasonic DVD players were never exactly cheap) you expect the product to last.
In light of the above and for DivX, MPEG/AVI, PAL, etc. playback I first switched to Philips players. They were pretty inexpensive and played the aforementioned formats well. The picture quality was also beyond reproach. But their ergonomics, menus, displays, remote controls were not exactly pleasing. And although they were improving in areas of ergonomics and remote control, they were getting a bit flimsy for my taste.
Then I discovered Pioneer DVD players. I have used the Pioneer DV-400V, the Pioneer DV-410V, the Pioneer Elite DV-48AV (which I currently use for DVD-Audio playback among other things) and the Pioneer DV-420V-K. To stay unbiased, I also tried out the Philips DVP5982, 5960 and DVP5990 (which my mother is currently using). Although Pioneer players are somewhat more expensive, it is easy to see why.
Philips DVD players still have some usability shortcomings and appear just a little bit flimsy. At the same time, both the DV-400V and the DV-48AV were much better in some aspects than the contemporary Philips models. From there on, the trend continued. My current DVD-Audio/Video player is Pioneer Elite DV-48AV.
I am still using Philips DVP5990 that my mother has and it is more than satisfactory overall. It produces amazingly good picture and has a decent remote, but is just a little flimsy still. Having cool features of Philips players without ergonomics shortcomings or slight flimsiness thereof, Pioneer models are my current players of choice.
The Sony NS710 is an inexpensive model from Sony that features an HDMI out, upconversion to up to 1080p and the usual goodies like MP3 playback. When I say "inexpensive" I mean by Sony's standards. Slightly over $60 is not expensive overall, but buys a lot of a DVD player these days. Witness the Pioneer DV-220V-K, the model that has a USB and DivX certification (something Sony doesn't have).
The Sony DVP-NS710H/S is a upconverting DVD player with 720p, 1080i or 1080p output over HDMI. It can display JPEG photos, play MP3 files, CD-R and CD-RW, DVD-R/W, DVD R/W. The player has an HDMI out, coaxial digital audio out, component video out and a composite audio out.
It is immediately apparent that there are some items that the player lacks. There is no S-Video out (nobody would use it anyway if they have HDMI or component input on their TV) or an optical digital audio out (coaxial is present plus HDMI-equipped receivers are nothing new).
The front panel is Spartan, with only eject, play and stop buttons. The buttons are flush with the surface, making for a poor tactile feedback.
The player is medium-sized and nice in appearance. Its display that is not very informative. The onscreen displays are very pleasing however. The player came preset to widescreen mode and produced high contrast and sharpness by default, requiring adjustments to dial it all down.
The player is a bit slow loading discs. But while trying out different DVD discs, the multiple-disc resume functionality came in handy. The feature works pretty seamlessly.
The remote is compact and has separate power and volume buttons to control your TV. The buttons are located in somewhat intuitive order, but are mostly similarly-sized.
I tested the player with my 50-inch Hitachi plasma (P50H401). The 1080i output over HDMI is very good: razor sharp and clear. It does not quite have the smallest detail of the HD DVD or Blu-Ray, but it is rather good and definitely better than that of the non-upconverting player over an analog connection. I do feel that my mother's Philips DVP5990 produces a marginally better level of detail.
I definitely have not expected it to rival an HD DVD disc in my Toshiba HD-A3 or a Blu-Ray disc in my Sherwood Blu-Ray player, I was quite happy with the image quality. Still, I tried a comparison with the upconversion of regular DVDs by my Toshiba HD-A3 and the A3 does have a distinctive advantage in detail level.
The sound is excellent as well (using either coaxial digital connection or HDMI to my Panasonic XR57 receiver).
Now, there are deficiencies that are only noticeable if you want a seamless computer file sharing/playback. There is no USB port or DivX certification(Pioneer DV-220V-K has both for about the same price). The front panel does not have many buttons and the front panel display will not win any contests.
Then there is a question of reliability. I am trying to be objective, but in my experience with Sony products, quality control was lacking pretty frequently and design flaws also apparent. This applied to a camcorder that had a scroll wheel that started malfunctioning within two years after purchase (and still does), computer monitor that came from the factory with a huge gap between plastic panels, a brand-new VCR that couldn't obtain correct tracking on tapes that pretty much all other VCRs had no issues with.
In any case, we cannot make conclusions about reliability of this model based on past experiences with the company. Plus, the price is so low you can always get a new (probably better and cheaper) model later if this one fails. Still, for my money I am sticking with Pioneer.
Good looks, price (for a Sony product) connectivity options, features, 1080p, very good video and sound.
Slightly long startup time, no USB or DivX certification.
The compact Pioneer DV-220V-K costs about the same (if not less) and has USB and solid Avi/DivX playback. If you want a full-sized DVD player (for stack-ability with other components) that also has more controls on the front panel (including menu control buttons and DVD/USB switch button) and an S-Video out, I recommend the Pioneer DV-420V-K. Other alternatives include the Philips DVP5990 or DVP5992. They are solid DVD players with very similar features and excellent image quality.
The Sony DVP-NS710H/B is a good and inexpensive upconverting DVD player with HDMI. If you have to have a Sony DVD player and/or don't need a USB port or an optical digital audio out, I recommend it. Otherwise, see the Pioneer DV-220V-K, Pioneer DV-420V-K, Philips DVP5990 or DVP5992.