The Blu-ray format has had an adventurous development ever since it was introduced, and although the spinning movie discs have encountered strong competition from streaming-based media in the past year, the BD disc is still the best option for those who want maximum image and sound quality.
The development has however stagnated a bit. Most brands have invested most in making the players cheaper to sell larger quantities. Fortunately, there are still a few manufacturers who are trying to make players better.
American Oppo has specialized in DVD and blu-ray players and in recent years they have worked up a reputation for being among the very best – and to have prices that most enthusiasts can afford. The new range includes two markedly improved models, BDP-103 and BDP-105. Here we test the smaller model, the BDP-103, which costs ~$499 (MSRP).
Advanced Video Processor
The Oppo player's heart is in the video processor, Marvell's powerful Kyoto G2H, which in addition to superior imaging features, 2D - to - 3D conversion and upscaling to 4K resolution. The latter is mostly a gimmick because this does not work on regular full-HD screens - plus the fact that each 4K-compatible screen still must have the function built-in. Yet there is a theoretical possibility that the Oppo player does a better job of upscaling than most 4K screens embedded conversion. This we could not test because we had no 4K screen available unfortunately.
Usage and Features
Oppo BDP-103 can do much more than just play standard Blu-ray movies. In addition to DVDs and CDs, including DVD-Audio and SACD, it can handle the streaming and the popular video service Netflix on board. In addition, it can play media from your computer or directly from a USB hard drive.
The new Oppo model features a new main circuit board with Dual Core processor which ensures a faster start time and makes maintenance much easier than the last generation. The BDP-103 is significantly faster than many of today's competitors. Start from standby in less than 20 seconds, and it usually does not take longer than 30 seconds to reach the title screen from the moment you put in the BD-ROM. It's fast!
The remote is definitely one of the better ones we've seen. It lies nicely in the hand and has illuminated buttons so you can see what you do in theater darkness. The player display can be dimmed or turned off so you don´t have to see it in the dark. For those who prefer to set the blu-ray player in a cabinet or a tech room, the supplied IR repeater a nice bonus. The remote has a dedicated hot key for Netflix, which makes it easy to jump to the service at any time. Oppo has also retained the ability to go into the settings menu without first stopping the movie, which is worth gold when you make the initial settings.
Reference Class Image Quality
Traditionally, the difference in picture quality between blu-ray players have not been very great. There simply is not room for some dramatic differences or variations when the movie is played and sent digitally to the screen. The Oppo player, however, has a great opportunity to show what a difference a good video processor can do. It is only one of the two HDMI outputs that pass through the advanced Kyoto chip, the other retrieves the video signal directly from the circuit board and sends it on to the screen without any additional signal processing.
The difference between the two outputs is subtle, yet fully apparent. The picture from HDMI 2 output is very good, but the HDMI 1 output still gives a significantly sharper and more detailed, noise-free image with a stable sharpness even when the image is moving. The same applies to the upscaling of DVD and other low-resolution video sources, the picture becomes even more seamless through the advanced video chip. The BDP-103 also does wonders with streaming from YouTube and Netflix: low-res material looks "okay" but pick a video with HD resolution and it can look really good, with less visible compression and noise than we're used to.
The new HDMI input also seems to keep its promises. With my PVR connected to the Oppo player and then to the TV, I got a noticeably better image, with higher contrast and improved color shades. This is in other words a definite bonus that we recommend you take advantage of.
Oppo BDP-103 has a slightly simpler analog section than its big brother, the BDP-105. Yet it is far from being an amiss player we ‘re talking about: The BDP-103 does an excellent job as an analog audio device in stereo. It fair quite well, for example, against the built-in D/A converter in the Hegel H300 amp, which is of very high quality.
The BDP-103 also has opportunities for those who have an older home theater amplifier - or none at all. The Oppo player has a built-in surround decoder with analog outputs for all channels (7.1). It also has a volume control that is controlled from the remote control, including separate level and distance adjusting to all the speakers! This means that in principle it can be connected directly to a power amplifier, or powered speakers for that matter. One could almost call it a "blu-ray preamplifier".
There are some limitations, of course. The Oppo player has no calibration microphone, so distance and levels must be set by hand (well, ear). It also has no advanced equalizer or room correction that can be found in more well-equipped AV receivers. But you will get far with your own ears, measuring tape and a good sound level app.
The BDP-103 will cost ~$499 and is far from a cheap story, but for your money you also get the so far best and most complete blu-ray player we've tested. The Oppo player is worth the money, and of course assumes that you can actually take advantage of the quality and the extra refinements it offers. But for high-end image quality in demanding home theaters, there are currently none that can match the BDP-103!
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- IN ThE bOX
- Universal Blu-ray disc player with Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, DVD-Audio, CD, VCD, HDCD, AVCHD, MP4, AVI, and MKV support
- Dual HDMI Inputs and Outputs, MHL-Compatibility, 3 USB Inputs, DLNA (DMP & DMR), SMB/CIFS, Wireless N, RS232 & IR
- Dual-core processor provides quick startup and fast loading times; Updated Qdeo Video Processor
- 4k Up-conversion, 2D-to-3D Conversion, True 24p Video, Vertical Stretch Mode, Advanced Picture Controls
- Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, 7.1-Channel Analog, Coaxial/Optical
|Disc Types||BD-Video, Blu-ray 3D, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, AVCHD, SACD, CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE|
|BD Profile||BD-ROM Version 2.5 Profile 5 (also compatible with Profile 1 Version 1.0 and 1.1)|
|Internal Storage||1GB (Actual space available for persistent storage varies due to system usage)|
|Output||Analog Audio: 7.1ch, 5.1ch, stereo.|
Coaxial/Optical Audio: Dolby Digital, DTS, up to 2ch/192kHz PCM.
HDMI Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio, up to 7.1ch/192kHz PCM, up to 5.1ch DSD.
HDMI Video: 480i/480p/576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24/4Kx2K, 3D frame-packing 720p/1080p24.
|Input||HDMI Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, AAC, up to 5.1ch/192kHz or 7.1ch/96kHz PCM.|
HDMI Video: 480i/480p/576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24/1080p25/1080p30, 3D frame-packing 720p/1080p24.
MHL Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, up to 5.1ch/192kHz PCM.
MHL Video: 480i/480p/576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p24/1080p25/1080p30, 3D frame-packing 720p/1080p24.
|Frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz (±0.05dB), 20Hz – 96kHz (-4.5dB ~ +0.05dB)|
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >115dB (A-weighted)
THD+N: < 0.006% (1kHz at 0dBFS, 20kHz LPF)
|General Specification||Power Supply: ~100V – 240V, 50/60Hz AC|
Power Consumption: 35W (Standby: 0.5W in Energy Efficient Mode)
Dimensions: 16.8 x 12.2 x 3.1 inches (430mm x 311mm x 79mm)
Mass: 10.8 lbs (4.9kg)
|Operating Temperature||41°F - 95°F|
5°C - 35°C
|Operating Humidity||15% - 75%|
|Parts & Labor Warranty||2 Years|
BDP-103 Blu-ray player
HDMI 1.4 Cable, about 6 feet
USB Wireless-N Adapter (up to 150Mbps, 802.11b/g/n compatible, 2.4GHz)
USB Extension Cable, about 4.5 feet
Power Cable, about 4.5 feet
Remote Control with AA Batteries