Not sure I'd recommend getting an HD DVD standalone at the moment as a first player, given its future is somewhat uncertain. I'd be more inclined to get Blu-ray as a first player at the moment, as that has a more studio support - both now and especially once Warner cease their HD DVD support in May. It's important to remember this is still early adoption stage for HD players - so high prices are to be expected. Toshiba slashing prices doesn't necessarily equate to better value than a BD player. £190 for a player that as of May will have 30% (by 2007 box office share) studio support, or £300 for one that has 70%? 1.6x more expensive, but 2.3x more movie support.
That said, the current HD DVD standalones (available in the UK at least) are on the whole a lot more polished than their Blu counterparts, and at their current prices are obviously quite tempting - and of course there is a sizeable catalogue of existing HD DVD titles regardless of what happens in the coming months. The profile 1.1 Panasonic Blu-ray standalone (BD30) is getting a lot of very good reports from the US though (definitely as polished as the HD DVD standalones) - and its profile 2.0 bigger brother (BD50) is due out their soon-ish too. Those are the two I would be keeping an eye out for on the Blu-ray side if bitstreaming audio or analogue out is important to you - but I don't know if and when they are coming to our shores.
I'm firmly of the belief that a single HD format would be better for the longterm future of Hi Def movies which is why I am rather reluctant to recommend anyone buying an HD DVD player at the moment. Each one that is sold potentially prolongs this war that bit longer than necessary. Blu has more studio support, more CE support, and more consumer sales.
As a sort of aside I'm not convinced how much difference bitstreaming HD audio from the player to the receiver can make compared with decoding it on the player and PCM-ing it to the receiver. It's essentially just unzipping which I find hard to believe a receiver can somehow do 'better' than a player. For that reason the PS3 is a very difficult player to fault - and that will be even more the case if they add dts-Master Audio decoding in the near future (and profile 2.0 at some stage is pretty certain too, given that they had a profile 2.0 model demonstrating at CES).