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Review: OPPO Digital BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Disc Player
By Dawn Gordon Luks
Before I get into the particulars, first a short history lesson: OPPO Digital is a Chinese-owned subsidiary that was founded in California in 2004. This little company's "MO" is simple -- create products that deliver superlative performance at an affordable price, and at the same time, offer excellent customer service and support. During these frugal times of lowering product performance and outsourcing technical support, OPPO is a breath of fresh air. The company's designers actually listen to their customers -- adding requested features via firmware upgrades.
In the Bag
The BDP-83 is a hefty component. Weighing in at 11.2 pounds, the player feels quite substantial. Inside the well-designed packaging you'll find the BDP-83 encased in a fabric tote bag. You'll also find a high-quality, 6-foot, HDMI cable; assorted audio cables; the instruction manual; and two test discs, including the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray disc. A short-range back-lit remote completes the package.
This $499 player is truly universal, as it not only plays Blu-ray, DVD and CD optical discs, but also plays DVD-Audio and SACD discs for those of you (including myself) who own these formats. Please note that other BD players that can decode all these discs start at $2000. Other supported formats include: AVCHD, HDCD, JPEG, Kodak Picture CD, CD-R/RW, DVD±R/RW, DVD±R DL, BD-R/RE and MP3. A cool extra: If your MP3s contain ID3 tag info, the BDP-83 will download album art to match your tunes.
This BD-Live 2.0 player contains all the necessary hardware -- audio/video decoder, Ethernet port and 1 GB of internal storage -- for BD-Live capability. It also sports a full complement of connectivity, including component and HDMI video; analog stereo audio and 7.1 outputs; as well as Toslink and coaxial ports. IR input/output jacks and both front and rear USB ports are within easy reach, and RS-232 is available as an option. A hefty and detachable power cord is also included.
I've been installing BD players since they became available, and the biggest complaint I get from my clients is that they are terribly slow. The length of time it takes to load up and play a disc varies from player to player. I've seen 3-4 minutes go by before a movie could be played. The king of all speed records was always Sony's PS3 -- often beating other players by 1-2 minutes or more. The PS3 is no longer the champ. The BDP-83 is absolutely the fastest player I've ever tested.
Like most mid- to high-end Blu-ray players, BD video performance is superb. The BDP-83's HDMI v1.3 output supports 30-bit and 36-bit Deep Color, and can play 1080p up to 50 or 60 Hz, as well as 24 frames per second. This player produces excellent high-definition images, but I was also very impressed with its standard DVD playback. The OPPO uses the Anchor Bay VRS de-interlacing and scaling chip set, and the up-converted picture quality is amazing -- offering a picture that's smooth, sharp and free of artifacts. So, although not exactly Blu-ray quality, your regular DVDs will look much better than before.
Audio performance has not been left out. The BDP-83 supports bit-stream output of both DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD via its HDMI 1.3 output. It can also internally decode these formats and output via HDMI or the 7.1 channel analog audio output terminals. Of course, legacy Dolby Digital and DTS codecs are also supported. The BDP-83 offers excellent sound quality whether you're listening to Dolby True HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, CD or even MP3 formats.
As adept as the BDP-83 is in the performance department, it also shines with the huge bundle of features packed into its chassis, offering stuff that collectively isn't found anywhere else.
From the simple time remaining display, to the ability to play PAL discs, this player has you covered. Welcome features include the ability to actually remember where you left off on most Blu-ray discs, PAL/NTSC conversion and a universal power supply designed to be compatible with the AC power of all regions.
The BDP-83 also features a Source Direct Mode. This is for users who wish to use an external video processor, which allows the original audio/video content on the discs to be sent out with no additional processing or alteration. But keep in mind that the video processing on this player is so good that you probably won't need a video processor, and the BDP-83 supports multiple levels of aspect ratio control and image zooming, including a vertical stretch mode for users with a 2.35:1 Constant Image Height display system.
Speaking of 2.35, this OPPO will soon offer a "killer app" for those systems. It's still in the Beta version, but a future firmware release will allow you to move subtitles and the player's on-screen display out of the black bar area of your 2.35 screen. This is huge news for projector owners looking for a solution to the subtitle dilemma. I've tried the new firmware, and it works as advertised.
There isn't a Blu-ray player out there that can match the BDP-83 in terms of features and performance. It's a steal at only $499.
Dawn Gordon Luks is a veteran consumer electronics journalist. In addition to her writing schedule, Dawn also designs home audio, home theater, and home automation installations in South Florida. Send an email to Dawn Gordon Luks.