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.

Would you buy this?

Oppo BDP-103: Picture quality

We hooked the Oppo BDP-103 to our two favourite TVs for testing: a 50-inch Pioneer KURO PDP-LX509A, and a 50-inch Panasonic ST50A. We had a PC and an Xbox 360 hooked up to the two HDMI inputs, and a swathe of Blu-ray movies, a couple of DVDs, and compressed file formats to try out.

The two HDMI outputs on the back of the Oppo BDP-103 are the only way to get video out — there’s no legacy connectors, no analog video to speak of. Oppo has put all its R&D dollars into the two very specialised, very expensive digital A/V outputs.

HDMI 1 is the one to choose if you’re planning on running a single display from the BDP-103. The Marvell Kyoto-G2H video processor running this digital output stage is the best of the best; it’s going to do a better job of preserving and enhancing video detail than any other Blu-ray player on the market.

HDMI 2 has a lesser, but still high-end, processor from Mediatek. You can use the second HDMI output for two usage scenarios, both of which might apply to the Oppo BDP-103’s potential cinemaphile buyer. HDMI 2 can be used (in ‘Split A/V’ mode) purely to carry the highest-quality audio signal to a dedicated A/V receiver/amplifier — we’re talking DTS-HD Master Audio, 7.1 channel 192kHz PCM, 5.1 channel DSD, properly class-leading stuff. Alternatively, you can use HDMI 2 to carry a second audiovisual signal to a second screen, so you could use the BDP-103 to play a movie on two screens at once.

The BDP-103 has the best quality video processing that we’ve ever seen from a Blu-ray player. We watched Avatar in 2D and in 3D with the best colour and the most detail we’ve seen outside of a cinema. We watched Baraka with the most accurate colour reproduction and contrast of any Blu-ray player we’ve tested, and Frozen Planet and Planet Earth with the best motion control and jitter control we’ve seen. The BDP-103 bests anything that Sony, Samsung, LG or Panasonic can offer.

Up-scaling from DVDs, compressed 720p and 480p material, and from the streaming YouTube, is similarly the best we’ve seen. Some very specialised processing going on inside the BDP-103’s brain does an absolutely stellar job of deblocking, smoothing and sharpening video as it is output, and the end result is that while lower-resolution content certainly doesn’t look as good as a native Blu-ray, it looks better than we’ve seen from any other compressed-file or streaming media player.

We didn’t have the option to test the Ultra High-Definition up-scaling ability of the Oppo BDP-103 — with only two Ultra HD screens available around Australia in the LG 84LM9600 and the Sony BRAVIA XBR84X900, we weren’t able to get the two devices in the same room at the same time. When the opportunity becomes available, we’ll update this review to compare the BDP-103’s 4K up-scaling to the internal processing of these panels.

Oppo BDP-103: Conclusion

The BDP-103 is a very complex player, but it only delivers as much of the complexity as you want to deal with. You can just hook it up to your TV and let it do its thing, or you can delve into menus, adjust its colour and detail and contrast, output HD audio to a dedicated sound system, play your compressed media files from a network-attached storage device.

It’s an expensive Blu-ray player, no doubt. But what you get for that price is beyond any other Blu-ray player we’ve seen — it’s a receiver for your other digital devices, an excellent network and local media player, and an Internet video on demand streamer (although not so relevant in Australia).

When you consider that a few years ago, a Blu-ray player would cost the Oppo’s asking price or more, we don’t think it’s unreasonably expensive. We’re fully confident that the BDP-103 will outlast other cheaper players from other brands, and its video processing and included features are absolutely top-notch.

We think that Oppo’s BDP-103 is deserving of our highest praise. It’s not perfect, but it’s close.

PC World reviewed the US version of the Oppo BDP-103, the BDP-103US, and used Region 1 Blu-ray discs for the majority of its testing. You can buy the Australian version of this Blu-ray player from www.opposhop.com.au.

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