A DAC is a very good idea actually. He could spend £400 on whatever blu-ray player floats his boat from a video perspective and £100 on a little Micromega DAC or similar would nail the CD playback.Would also recommend the Oppo but sounds like you have heard some poor reviews of the 103. The as only players are always well reviewed and praised for their picture quality. A new Sony 790 can be had for £160 leaving £340 for a decent DAC or lots of software!!
Yes, he said there are lot of reports of the 103 being a big step back from those two models
I agree, but lots of the really cheap players come with annoyances - noisy mechanisms, horrible remote and usability, that type of thing. Tend to get better options once you're spending £80+ and I guess if someone's got a £500 budget it's likely worth not going for the absolute cheapest players about - might sound fine, but leave a real desire to chuck out the window after an hour or two.If you plan to use it as a transport, ANY bluray player is going to be good, even the cheapo models.