Ultimately, I want a standalone module
I don't know if you've bought direct from LC Tech, to get a price you have to ask. I buy different modules and what I pay may be different but I think not a lot different on most things. My VS1053 dev module was less than $10 in a larger order. I was quoted less than $30 for this DIY AVR MP3 developer suite:http://www.lctech-inc.com/Hardware/Detail.aspx?id=ac8e187a-cc74-407b-977c-00734e92b1cd
The suite is a MP3 DIY suite, can directly play the MP3 files on the SD card; at the same time also can play the MP3 files on the U disk. (Note: U disk module need to purchase another), provide all materials, including schematic diagram, source program, convenient for customers build up their favorite MP3 system faster.
I see a VS1003 board cabled to a main board with LCD and bezel, and the end of some size SD card which I fear is a frikkin-mini-SD. Sense tells me there's an AVR chip hiding under the LCD but which one?
This is my contact there who does not know my Arduino forum name:firstname.lastname@example.org