I finally broke down and got a new DVD player; my old Panasonic one was starting to “No Play” most DVDs (including ones that I’d previously watched on it), and my newer RCA one was manufactured poorly, and the gears would start skipping when trying to access data near the end of discs.
So I went over to my local CompUSA and picked up a Philips DVP642/37. And man is it sweet. It’s better than the Apex I had way back when (which has since gone the way of the dinosaurs): It’s DivX certified, and can play just about anything I want. DVDs work perfectly, of course (I even found the region-free hack so I can play any DVD). VCDs and SVCDs work like a breeze. CDRs with mpeg files? No sweat. And of course it can play DivX movies that are burned onto CDRs as well. If I had a DVD burner, I suspect it’d also play DVDs full of DivX files (handy for my collection of Twin Peaks season 2 avi’s).
So all in all, I look at this as a worthwhile purchase. For 70 bucks, I get a device that’ll play just about anything I care to throw at it. Now I just need to find a reliable source of DivX movies that don’t suck (unlike Usenet; people in newsgroups frequently have no taste in movies).