Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray 3D Player Page 2
Many Blu-ray players support streaming services and connection to a home network to stream music and photos. Network setup was a breeze, and the player connected to my home network in seconds. While Oppo includes a wireless dongle, I chose a wired connection since I took the time to run a cable to my equipment rack years ago—this eliminates any bandwidth issues on my wireless network. The commercially available services on the player include Netflix (with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio), Vudu (with up to 7.1 channels of Dolby Digital Plus and 3D movies), Film Fresh, YouTube, Pandora, and Picasa. There’s no Amazon VOD, but that should be available via the Roku Streaming Stick if you want to add the service.
At some point in the life span of every Blu-ray player, a firmware update will be needed. The Oppo will automatically update itself if it’s connected to the Internet, or you can go the self-service route and download it directly from Oppo. There wasn’t an update during my evaluation period, but Oppo’s previous players have been painless to update, and it usually takes less than five minutes to accomplish the task.
The BDP-103 has a new remote that now includes direct-access buttons to both Netflix and Vudu. It fits nicely in my hand and includes a backlit, easy-to-navigate button layout. The only criticism I had of the BDP-93 (and BDP-95) were their weak IR receivers, but thankfully Oppo has addressed that with the BDP-103 with an increase in remote sensitivity and, especially, range.
With its past players, Oppo included an easy-to-follow Auto Setup program, but that’s gone here. Instead, the player’s default settings are virtually plug and play, and the default configuration will be sufficient for most users and won’t require you to venture into the setup menu. If you want to adjust things yourself and customize the player to perfectly match your home theater setup and viewing preferences, the setup menu is easy to navigate and configure. If you’re stumped by a particular setting, the included user manual is outstanding in its layout and comprehensiveness.
Owners of Android phones can download an Oppo remote app from the Google Play store that’s backward compatible with the BDP-93/95, although at this time there isn’t an iOS version for Apple devices (one is in the works). I know a lot of people who are shunning universal remotes and going to smart devices to run their gear, and Oppo is finally jumping on this bandwagon.
Testing and Real-World PerformanceIt came as no surprise, given the known quality of its video processing and the performance of past Oppo players, that the BDP-103 sailed through all of our standard- and highdefinition benchmarks. More important, its video performance with real-world material was impeccable. Although I couldn’t test its 4K scaling capabilities, if it does as good a job in this department as it does with DVD upconversion and processing the incoming signal from my TiVo Series3, you shouldn’t have to scrap the player when you buy a 4K display in the future. The unit exhibits excellent fine object detail with virtually no ringing and video noise. The Qdeo video processing solution offers a number of customizable options in the setup menu, including noise reduction, contrast, sharpness, and color enhancements. For Blu-ray playback, it’s best to leave these options untouched, but they can be useful with standard-definition content or for optimizing the picture from one of the HDMI inputs.
One negative to the player’s internal scaling capabilities is that the player powers up in Blu-ray mode and you have to manually choose which HDMI input you want by pressing the Input button on the remote to bring up the Input Source menu, and then selecting the corresponding HDMI In port. Not exactly family friendly, but I’m sure once your significant other or kids do it a couple of times, it won’t be a deal breaker.
One thing I noticed when I first used the player was how much faster it booted up versus the previous-generation players. Although the player offers a Quick Boot mode that uses more energy, I never felt the need to employ the faster startup and increase my carbon footprint. Furthermore, with the dual-core SoC (System on Chip) processor, the disc loading times are lightning fast, and navigating through Blu-ray menus and the Vudu interface is much snappier than I was used to with other Oppo players.
While I would love to say the BDP-103 improves the picture quality of Blu-ray Discs to a level I’ve never seen before, that would be a lie. The video from all of the Oppo players I’ve used in the past has been as near perfect as I could wish for, and this new model was no exception. Every Blu-ray Disc I threw at the unit played without a hitch. Upscaled DVDs looked as good as they could given their limited data on the disc, and while the Oppo can’t make a 480i encode look like a Blu-ray, it can make it much more watchable.
On the audio front, the BDP103’s analog two-channel performance shows an improvement over the BDP-93. Although it uses the same DAC as its predecessor, Oppo has changed the configu-ration of the DAC chip and added a new analog buffer and filter stage following the DAC output. “Hotel California” on the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over CD exhibited a warmer soundstage with some added depth compared to the BDP-93. If you’re a two-channel audio buff, this alone may be reason enough to invest in this player.
I could say the same about its two-channel performance with 96-kilohertz/24-bit FLAC highdefinition audio tracks that I downloaded from HDtracks.com and then streamed to the player from my Windows Home Server. Searching through the site, I found one of my favorite albums as a kid—Foreigner 4. The sixtime platinum album includes such hits as “Urgent” and one of my personal favorites, “Juke Box Hero.” Using the analog outs from the Oppo, I compared the audio with my Squeezebox Touch sending the digital audio (via coax) to my Integra surround processor. Just like my experience with two-channel CDs, the Oppo has a much more refined sound, and I preferred it to the digital input on my Integra, although the one negative is that I need to have my projector on in order to navigate through the Oppo menus to find the album versus using the touchscreen on the Squeezebox.
If you’re a multichannel analog buff, you’ll be just as impressed with the BDP-103, as long as you don’t mind dealing with the gaggle of cables and setting up your speaker configuration within the player. You must set the size, distance, crossover, and trim settings for all of your speakers, and thankfully the well-laid-out setup menu is easy to follow. Oppo also includes its own test tones to aid you. Once it was set up, I sampled various multichannel SACDs and DVD-Audio discs and preferred the sound coming from the Oppo versus sound being sent via HDMI to my pre/pro. My Integra is a tad brighter than the Oppo and isn’t as inviting, although I suspect only die-hard audiophiles will find the subtle sound improvement worth the hassle of running all of those extra wires.
Summing It Up
As you can probably tell, I really like the BDP-103. Sure, at $499 it’s a lot more expensive than other players I’ve reviewed this year. But let’s look at what the Oppo brings to the table: near-flawless playback of Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD discs; support for both DVD-Audio and SACD audio formats; home network streaming as well as some of the most popular online streaming offerings; the ability to use the player’s best-in-class video processing for other components in your system via its HDMI inputs; and finally, the best customer service in the business. If that isn’t worth a few extra dollars, then I don’t know what is. Highly recommended.