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Product Review (November 2012) OPPO BDP-103 Universal 3D Blu-ray Player with 4K/DVD-Audio/SACD/HDCD By Kevin Nakano OPPO has been recognized as a leader in Blu-ray players ever since the introduction of the original BDP-83 design back in 2009. Receiving high praise from the press, Oppo soon released the next generation BDP-93 which became one of the most sought after players by the serious home theater enthusiast. Oppo has just released the new BDP-103 that once again leverages from past successes. The BDP-103 represents the company's third generation Blu-ray design with many of the great features found on its predecessor and now with additional capabilities such as Ultra High Definition (4Kx2K) video up-scaling, 2D-to-3D conversion, and dual HDMI inputs. The Netflix application now supports 1080p video with 5.1 audio, and the new VUDU application supports 3D.
Back Panel The BDP-103 back panel looks different from the BDP-93 with several significant improvements. The two HDMI outputs still remain, but are now capable of ARC (Audio Return Channel) with compatible displays. Both HDMI outputs have adjustable resolution supporting 4Kx2K, Auto, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p/576p, 480i/576i, and Source Direct. If Auto is selected, the player will determine the output resolution based on the best signal resolution that the TV can display. The eSATA port has been removed and replaced with an additional USB 2.0 (now two USB 2.0 ports in the back). The BDP-103 still has both optical and coaxial digital outputs, wired ethernet, RS232 control, an IR input, composite video (for diagnostics) and 7.1 analog outputs. A detachable power cord makes installation easier in tight places.
Wireless N The BDP-103 includes a USB wireless N WiFi adapter since the capability is not built into the unit. An extension cable with an attached dock is provided and allows the dongle to be placed on a flat surface away from the back of the BD player for optimal reception. In our tests the signal strength was at 74% with the dock optimally placed in our room with the access point in a different room. We ran 1080p content from Netflix and VUDU and never experience any dropouts, even with this less than perfect signal strength. Configuration is easy with the Internet Connection menu where the user can select either wired or wireless connectivity. We ran all of our tests in this review with a wired ethernet cable for the fastest and most reliable connection, with the exception of our testing done with the wireless features. This capability is very handy for those with limited wired network access.
The Top Menu and Pop-Up Menu buttons are located on the upper left and right sides of the navigation buttons. Option and Return are located on the lower right and left of the navigation buttons. The navigation buttons have been redesigned in a circular fashion tapered inward towards the Enter button giving the remote a better feel when using these controls. The more frequently used Stop, Play and Pause buttons are larger for easy access. Pressing the Resolution button allows the user to select from Auto, 4Kx2K, 1080p (60Hz/24Hz), 1080i(60Hz), 720p(60Hz), 480p/576p, 480i/576i, or Source Direct. OPPO has also included a three position switch inside the battery compartment that allows the user to change the command set so that it does not interfere with other OPPO products. This feature provides full and separate control of multiple OPPO units in the same room.
The 3D Mode can be set to Auto, Off or Forced. To maximize 3D performance, Oppo allows the user to control the 2D->3D Depth (0 to 16) and define the 3D TV Size. The TV Aspect Ratio (16:9 Wide, or 16:9 Wide/Auto), TV System (NTSC, PAL or Multi-System) and Output Resolution (4Kx2K, Auto, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p/576p, 480i/576i or Source Direct) are also in this menu. The 1080p24 Output (Auto, Off, or On) provides the option for a 24 frame per second output rate. In addition, the DVD 24p Conversion (Off or On) can be configured for film-based DVD's.
Netflix Streaming The built-in Netflix streaming capability is a great feature that was added to Oppo's previous generation BD players. The updated version in the BDP-103 is even better with excellent graphics and a responsive user interface that is easy to use. Streaming was very reliable on this unit and we did not experience any bad behavior even with 1080p high-definition material. Netflix has a good movie selection and there is plenty of content for just about everyone. Having Netflix built into this unit eliminates the need for a separate media player.
VUDU Streaming Something recent to the Oppo line is the inclusion of VUDU, a high quality video streaming system that has excellent audio and video performance. Video is available in up to three different speeds (SD, HD, and HDX) depending on your network bandwidth. Our FIOS-based internet sustains a reliable 15 Mbps, so HDX was our choice especially when watching 1080p content. VUDU provides a utility to check the bandwidth of your connection to help you choose the right quality setting without interruptions.
Overall Performance The BDP-103 feels more responsive than its predecessor (the BDP-93), thanks to the power of a new dual-core ARM processor. Having been a heavy user of the original BDP-83 and the more recent BDP-93/95, my expectations were high on this product. I have to say that Oppo has kept all of the great features that I have come to love on their products and made it even better. The new HDMI inputs allow users to connect other components such as set-top boxes to the the Oppo and have it perform advanced video processing (up-conversion to 1080p) for an improved picture. We connected our Dish Network Hopper, which normally outputs 1080i and it worked very well without any noticeable motion artifacts.
Video Performance We watched several DVD and Blu-ray discs on this player and video quality was excellent as with the previous generation of OPPO BD players. While scaled DVD content never looks as good as well mastered BD content, this player did a great job up-scaling standard definition DVD to 1080p. Other sources from 1080i and 720p up-converted nicely as well. Support for 1080p/24 Blu-ray discs made for smooth motion and the Marvell video processor did an excellent job on the material we played through this unit. Unfortunately, we were not able to test the Ultra High Definition (4Kx2K) resolution as our current projector does not support this format. The BDP-103 has multiple levels of aspect ratio control and image zooming, including a vertical stretch mode for users with a 2.35:1 CIH (Constant Image Height) projector lens.
John Mayer's Where the Light Is on Blu-ray is an excellent recording with both acoustic and electric guitar performances. The Dolby TrueHD track reveals amazing detail and clarity that truly comes alive in high resolution audio with the benefit of a lossless format. It's refreshing to see performances like this captured on Blu-ray in 1080p accompanied by reference quality audio.
Conclusion The $499 BDP-103 is Oppo's latest (third generation) Blu-ray player that provides a solid design and offers the best in high quality home entertainment including Blu-ray, SACD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, HDCD, CD, high definition movie and music streaming, and local network-based content. This player has leveraged from the highly successful BDP-93 Blu-ray player and features new 4Kx2K up-scaling and built-in upconversion for other digital video sources through the HDMI inputs. Netflix and VUDU 1080p streaming make this BD player better than ever with video performance not seen in the earlier players. If you happen to be an existing Oppo BD customer, then you will definitely enjoy the improvements that have been made to the BDP-103. If you are new to Oppo, then you have been missing out on one of the best BD players your money can buy. You owe it to yourself to audition one.
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