Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player

This Blu-ray player has the best picture that money can buy -- end of story

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Oppo BDP-103
  • Oppo BDP-103
  • Oppo BDP-103
  • Oppo BDP-103
  • Expert Rating

    4.75 / 5

Pros

  • Unrivalled image quality
  • Class-leading design and build
  • Unique feature-set

Cons

  • Netflix and Vudu not useful for most Australians
  • No eSATA or Gigabit Ethernet
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

The BDP-103 is as good a Blu-ray player as we’ve ever seen. It’s extremely well-built and uses the highest quality components. It produces the best picture, supports the most formats, and has the most features of any consumer-level Blu-ray player on the market. Its international-focused video services are largely useless to Australia, though.

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Oppo BDP-103: Features

The buttons on top of the BDP-103’s remote control are for the two premium Web video features that US Oppo fans have been asking for since the launch of the BDP-93 — Internet-based movie and TV streaming services Netflix and Vudu. Netflix has an incredibly large catalogue of movies and TV shows, and a great recommendations system, and Vudu has the largest library of 1080p streaming movies of any online service.

There’s one big problem with this though, and it’s that these services aren’t available in Australia. They’re not likely to be any time soon, either. Licencing restrictions and lucrative copyright deals mean that by and large, easy access and integrated apps for Netflix and Vudu on the Oppo BDP-103 are largely useless to Australian buyers. There are ways to access these services (we successfully used UnoDNS to access Netflix, at US$5 per month), but it’s not a seamless or trouble-free process. The BDP-103 also has main-menu-screen access to Pandora Internet Radio (US only), Film Fresh (US only), YouTube (the new TV-friendly ‘lean-back’ interface), and Google Picasa.

Beyond simply playing Blu-ray movies, the Oppo BDP-103 can handle any task that a dedicated media streamer like the WD TV Live can as well. The BDP-103 can play almost any audio, photo, or video file format that we can think of (with the exception of RAW photos from a digital SLR), whether it’s from a connected USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 portable hard drive or flash drive, or from a network media share (SMB or DLNA) over Ethernet or the bundled Wi-Fi adapter.

The two HDMI inputs — one MHL-compatible front input, one regular HDMI rear input — mean that the Oppo BDP-103 can function as an A/V receiver as well as a Blu-ray player, funneling your other digital video devices through a single HDMI input to your television. This is good for consistency — you don’t have to switch inputs on your television, which is especially convenient if you’ve actually lost your TV remote like we have. The BDP-103 can lend all its video processing, cleaning and up-scaling nous to whatever inputs it’s got connected, making it a legitmately useful addition to your home entertainment setup.

Oppo BDP-103: Performance and interface

None

Thanks to its dual-core processor, the BDP-103 is much, much faster than almost all of the other Blu-ray players we’ve tested in the past. The Sony BDP-S790 comes close, but it’s got a more complicated online portfolio to load up before it gets into the action.

From a cold start, the player consistently starts in under 20 seconds, booting to the main menu. Enable Quick Start, which uses a little more power at standby, and you’re in there in under 10 seconds. With a Blu-ray in the drive, you’ll be on your way to the movie’s title screen in 30 seconds or less.

Navigating the main menu, loading up and moving through the featured apps, or looking through a connected hard drive or DLNA server — all of these tasks are completed quickly, with near-instantaneous response from hitting the remote control to an action happening on-screen. With our launch-day firmware running on the BDP-103 we were able to crash the YouTube app a few times by overwhelming it with button-presses, but the most recent firmware update should address this.

The simple, white-on-black interface itself is excellent. The main menu is simple, catering first (in terms of icons from left to right) to Blu-rays, then to any directly-connected storage device for Music or Photos or Movies, then to network-connected DLNA or SMB shares. The Settings sub-menu can be found under the rightmost icon.

A second row of icons on the main menu caters to online services, with Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, FilmFresh and Picasa lined up for easy access — not that most Australians will need more than YouTube.

The settings menu is absolutely comprehensive in terms of the features it’s got on offer. There’s more to fiddle here than we’ve seen on any other Blu-ray player — more than on most television sets too, to be honest. We’d recommend you read the Oppo manual for a comprehensive overview of what options you can change on the BDP-103, but suffice to say it’s able to be installed to suit everything from a simple TV-only setup, to a hugely expensive projector-and-multi-channel multi-amplifier home cinema solution that far out-prices the player itself.

Next page: Picture quality and conclusion

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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