There’s an interesting thread discussing mods to improve the inexpensive Oppo 980 DVD player for better performance. The power supply, capacitors and opamps can benefit from some higher end components. [Occam] suggests several replacement opamps options for upgrading the audio output. The realatively low cost of Oppo gear makes it a better risk than modding a multi-thousand dollar DVD player.
For $99, Apple will happily sell you a slick USB superdrive (aka DVD burner) that only works with the MacBook Air. [tnkgrl] swapped out the USB-IDE interface with a generic $9 unit to make it work with everything else. The generic board required a few mods: relocating the crystal oscillator along with the amputation of its daughter-board that carried an external power connector, usb connector and some caps.
If you are curious about reading all the bits on a DVD, [tmbinc] has devised a hardware hack that uses a Pioneer DVD drive with leads soldered onto it and a Cypress FX2 microcontroller board to grab the flow of bits and push them over USB2.0. My favorite part of this tutorial is when you slow the spinning DVD down very slightly with your finger with a scope hooked up over what you believe to be the raw data stream from the disk. If the data rate slows when you physically slow down the disk, you probably are grabbing data from the correct pin. [tmbinc] even put together a software tool to process the resulting raw DVD data.