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  • Blu Skies Ahead With The Oppo Digital BDP-83

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 8th, 2009

    Overall
    (out of 5)

    Welcome to the first of what I hope to be many hardware reviews. When I first heard that Oppo Digital was breaking into the Blu-ray player market with their new model BDP-83 I was immediately intrigued. The company had almost singlehandedly set the standard for upconvert DVD players just a short time ago. To say I was eager to get my hands on one of these units was an understatement.

    Blu-ray-BDP-83_leftangle

    You might say, what’s taken them so long? First of all, it hasn’t been quite as long as you might think. Blu-ray technology is still in the early adoption stages of its life. There are still far more DVD players out there than there will be Blu-ray machines for a while yet. Second of all, the BDP-83 has actually been in development for some time. You have to credit the company for refusing to rush the unit in order to cash in on early adopters. Instead, this machine appears to have worked out plenty of the bugs that so many of you have been complaining about for the last couple of years. There is also the advantage of having the next generation of Blu-ray technology today. What do I mean? This baby supports all of the latest so called “next gen” codecs. It’s a fully compliant 2.0 player as well as using HDMI 1.3 technology. It comes completely ready to handle BD-Live and BonusView content. You even get a solid 1GB of flash memory to make downloading and playing that content easier and much faster than most players on the market today. That’s a ton of memory for a standalone player. Those are just some of the reasons that Oppo Digital waited before entering the Blu-ray market. Read on and you’ll find out why this machine has become my unit of choice when delivering the latest high definition content reviews to you here at Upcomingdiscs.

    Even if the machine can’t anticipate what might be next on the Blu-ray front, it comes completely prepared to deal with all of those unforeseen goodies. Firmware updates are a snap. The unit can be quickly connected to a network cable and access updates on its own from the net. If you don’t have available access where your machine is, you can download the updates on your PC and install them from one of the two USB connectors. Updates are easy and take very little time to complete.

    The specs will be listed at the end of the review.

    Packaging

    They say first impressions can be everything. I don’t necessarily buy into that philosophy, but Oppo Digital wants you to feel like you’ve entered the high end world right from the jump. Instead of cheap styro, the unit is protected by pressure formed solid foam. Forget that silly tissue plastic that usually covers a unit in the box. This baby comes nestled inside a canvas bag. Of course, it’s also a great advertising idea. You’ll have the handy bag to tote stuff around later. The accessories come in a solid hard shell box. Inside you get: a remote + batteries, RCA connecting cables, a solid HDMI cable, and a Blu-ray containing some impressive monitor calibration tools.

    The manual is pretty simple and straightforward. There aren’t 20 different languages to sift through either. I’m sure that it is available in whatever language you require, but I love that it comes in one handy English language version. It’s thicker than most, but don’t be intimidated by that. All it means is that you’re going to get easy step by step instructions for all of the many features this unit contains. Take the time to check it out, and it will put your mind at ease.

    Make no mistake. This is a higher end unit. The $499 list price might seem hefty at first, but it’s a very good deal once you actually see what you’re getting. If cost is the only thing you’re looking for, there are plenty of models out there to choose from. But if actual value is more your speed, this unit demands serious consideration.

    Remote Control

    The remote is sturdy and feels solid in your hands. I’m getting a little tired of these fragile razor thin remotes that are intended to appear sleek and trendy, but don’t hold up worth crap. You get a pretty forgiving angle of operation. The buttons are all arranged logically and are a good size. Again, I’m getting sick of remotes with buttons so small I can’t press just one at a time, let alone read them. This is a good old school remote with new school reliability. I do rather like the Bluetooth remote to my PS3 a little better, only in the fact that I don’t have to point it at the unit. That’s the only upgrade I’d like to see here.

    Setup

    In spite of the fact that this baby comes fully loaded with pretty much every option you could want in a Blu-ray player, setup is made remarkably easy through their very simple on screen menu. When you first power the machine up, you’ll be guided through several very easy setup commands. Everything here is intuitive and quite easy. Yet it is very thorough. I did encounter one glitch, which I assume has been corrected in firmware upgrades. When I tried to select 1080p resolution I ended up in a loop. It kept going back to that screen. Finally I selected auto. Sure enough, it recognized my monitor as capable of 1080p and accepted the resolution. Some of the better options include the ability to select an auto screen aspect ratio. I like having the pillars on my 4:3 images. I hate having to distort the image. Some Blu-ray and upconvert machines do not allow you to have this option. You can choose to have the Oppo decode your audio codecs, or you can bitstream it directly to your receiver and let that handle the decoding.

    The Oppo has superior image adjustments. It has as many fine tuning options as most monitors. You can play with brightness, color, black levels, sharpness, noise reduction, and edge enhancement. I would rather keep things close to neutral on my unit and let the monitor handle the fine adjustments. It’s nice to have the option, however. You can also tweak the dynamics of the sound somewhat. Again, I’d rather leave that to my amp. There is a speaker calibration tool that helps you to optimize your sound performance.

    You get all of the standard resolutions plus the ability to convert content to 1080p/24. That allows you to reproduce the 24 frames per second that most film is shot at. It helps to eliminate some of the pull down effects and those nasty jitters you can get on some displays. My monitor has a 120hz option that also helps to eliminate many of those issues because it is divisible by 24, while standard 60hz is not. The tool only works if your monitor can support it. You can test that through setup. You always have the Source Direct Mode, which allows you to get the signal without any kind of extra processing from the unit, for you purists out there. In reviews I use this a lot so that I can be sure I am seeing an accurate representation of the release specs.

    In The Rack

    Dimensions: 3″ H x 16.8″ W x 13.3″ D, Weight 11.2 Pounds.

    The display is a rather large one. I like larger displays, but you have the option to either dim or eliminate it. The first thing I discovered about the unit is that it runs quiet. You really don’t get any noise at all from fans or drive motors. The second thing, and perhaps the most impressive, is the running temperature. This baby stays pretty cool even after several hours of operation, and in a rack with other units on the top. Maybe I’m making too much out of that feature because I’ve been running a PS3 which runs notoriously hot. I don’t think so. Aside from dust and dirt, heat is the major killer of a good audio/video unit. I often run additional fans on some equipment to keep them running cool. You won’t have to here. Without a ton of fan noises, this unit knows how to keep its cool. The disc drawer is a little too sensitive. It took me a while to get used to that. If you so much as touch it, no matter how lightly, it will close on you. This created a problem when the disc was not yet seated properly in the drawer.

    Blu-ray-BDP-83_front

    Blu-ray-BDP-83_back

    Performance

    This is what you really want to know. How does it handle the goodies? I’m happy to report it handles almost every format you can throw at it. Supported Disc Types: BD-Video, DVD-Video, AVCHD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD+-R/RW, DVD+-R DL, BD-R/RE. I’m particularly impressed that it handles SACD. The high end music format never completely took off here in the United States, but it is alive and well in Europe. I have some SACD material and have been struggling to find a player that can handle the format. It’s been almost completely abandoned for years. If you’re looking for an SACD player, this is your unit.

    You also get a pretty self contained entertainment center with this unit. It plays MP3, AVI, JPG, DivX, and MKV. It sorts them in an easy to navigate menu system that groups them by type of file; i.e., movie, music, or photo. You can load these media files from either a disc or a flash drive connected through the USB ports.

    The unit handles every available format without fail. It appears to be less sensitive than many players with slightly damaged DVD’s. I have to say my PS3 was good at that, but the Oppo does as good or a better job on this front. The upconvert feature is superior to any player I have yet owned. It converts those old style DVD’s to a 1080p resolution that retains the natural look of the colors and texture. Too much upconvert means overfiltered and under expectation. Look, you’re not going to get Blu-ray quality from a DVD no matter what you play it through, but this is absolutely as good as you’ll get.

    One of my biggest gripes about Blu-ray discs is the long load times. Then you get another 10 minutes of ads before you even get to a menu. Well, the Oppo can’t do anything about the ads, but it does cut down the load time an average of 3.5 seconds when compared with the exact same disc in my PS3. That may not sound like a lot, but every second counts with me.

    What about the actual video performance? In a word, it’s excellent. The unit has a very dynamic range of chroma and luma detail. It can handle frequencies far below the deepest black and well above the whitest whites. You get all the image detail you expect from a high definition player. The image runs smooth and doesn’t appear to stutter as I’ve encountered from my PS3. Of course, your monitor will be responsible for a lot of the kind of image that you actually experience, but I can assure you that if there are any limitations, they won’t be coming from the Oppo. There is a three dimensional feel to the image that is inherent on a good release even on my PS3. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that I was getting just a little bit more out of the Oppo. Of the two, it has become the default player of choice here at The Reel World.

    The Audio is no less impressive. I’ve delivered everything through my HDMI to my receiver. If you don’t have that luxury, the unit features 7.1 analog outputs to output the separate channels directly. I haven’t really tested this feature, because I prefer the HDMI digital signal, but I suspect it will be adequate if that’s the only option you have. I tried all of the various codecs I have in my collection, and it handles them all without a hiccup.

    The on-screen display will give you the standard information. You get the audio and video codecs. You’ll get the video bit rate. I do rather like that the PS3 offers the audio codec as well. I do look at that for my reviews from time to time. I’m hopeful it might be offered in a future firmware update. You have the option of displaying time as remaining or current. I like to keep it on remaining.

    Final Thoughts

    As I’ve already said, this technology is still rather young. I honestly believe that by taking their time to do things right, Oppo has done their part to drive the technology forward. I couldn’t be more pleased with this player and its capabilities. I dare anyone to come up with a feature they feel they need that the Oppo doesn’t address. I should say a word or two about durability here. In my role as a reviewer I spend a lot of time in my home theater. Sessions lasting 5 hours or more are not uncommon here. I think the biggest asset that this unit offers, you likely won’t find in most descriptions or reviews. The machine is a considerably sturdy unit. That combined with its cool operating temperature give me some confidence that the player can hold up to these marathon sittings I find myself having here. When you’re on a schedule of reviews that includes deadlines with studio reps and the like, the biggest fear you have is that your machine might go down when you need it the most. Not coincidentally, that’s also when you’re putting it through its paces the hardest. I’ve worried about the durability of my PS3 and cringe each time there’s a minor glitch. I strongly believe this machine was built to handle that kind of a workload. That more than anything else makes this the kind of machine that I expect to be able to rely on for years to come. If it can survive what I put it through, your movie watching schedule is likely a piece of cake. You’ll be hearing a lot more out of these guys pretty soon. I suspect they’ll be raising the bar for everyone else. We’ve just entered a new generation of high definition Blu-ray, and Oppo is going to be leading the way.

    Blu-ray-BDP-83_Board

    Here’s a look at the insides.

    Designs and specifications are subject to change without notice.

    Disc Types*

    BD-Video, DVD-Video, AVCHD, DVD-Audio, SACD, CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD
    CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE

    BD Profile

    BD-ROM Version 2 Profile 2 (also compatible with Profile 1 Version 1.0 and 1.1)

    Internal Storage

    1GB (Actual available storage varies due to system usage)

    Output

    Analog Audio: 7.1ch or 5.1ch, stereo
    Digital Audio: Coaxial, Optical
    HDMI Audio: Stereo, up to 7.1ch high-resolution PCM, up to 5.1ch DSD, bitstream or LPCM conversion of Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio.
    Analog Video: Composite, Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr, 480i/480p, 720p/1080i available for non-restricted content only)
    Digital Video: HDMI with HDCP (NTSC: 480i/480p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24, PAL 576i/576p/720p/1080i/1080p/1080p24)

    Video Characteristics

    Composite Video Amplitude: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω)
    Component Video: Y: 1.0Vp-p (75Ω), Pb/Pr: 0.7Vp-p (75Ω)

    Audio Characteristics**

    Frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz (±0.4dB)
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >110dB (A-weighted)
    THD+N: < 0.002% (1kHz at 0dBFS, 20kHz LPF)

    General Specification

    Power Supply: ~ 100V – 240V, 50/60Hz AC
    Power Consumption: 35W (0.5W Standby)
    Dimensions: 430mm x 336mm x 77mm, 16-7/8 x 13-1/4 x 3 inches
    Mass: 5.1kg / 11.2 lbs

    Operating Temperature

    5°C – 35°C
    41°F – 95°F

    Operating Humidity

    15% – 75%
    No condensation

    · Compatibility with user-encoded contents or user-created discs is on a best-effort basis with no guarantee due to the variation of media, software and techniques used.

    You can check out Oppo Digital and their products here: Oppo Digital

    Posted In: Hardware Reviews, Oppo

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