What HD DVD player to buy
1. I would get the latest HD DVD player no matter what. Some of the more affordable units are $300 to $400 and do 1080p despite the fact your set has a native resolution set for 1080i. The load times will be better and you will have less issues playing the feature laden discs without having to shell out a TON of cash.
2. On your HDTV, I would go component video from your new HD DVD player into your set. It will carry the 1080i signal just fine.
If you upgrade your set in the future - you will have a player than can handle it if you invest in the newest unit. Chances are - you will get a different HDTV at some point down the road.
I hope this helps.
Jerry Del Colliano