Home Theater Review

 

OPPO Digital BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
5 Stars
Value
5 Stars
Overall
5 Stars

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The OPPO was the clear winner in build quality and quiet operation. Its chassis and especially its disc tray felt much more sturdy, and the BDP-93 was impressively quiet when loading and navigating discs. (Some of the other players sounded like they were really manhandling the discs.) Beyond hearing the faintest hum in a totally silent room, I was seldom aware of the BDP-93's operation. Furthermore, the OPPO responds to remote commands in a quick, timely manner. Some of the players were sluggish in menu navigation and response, while others actually responded too quickly, causing me to jump past desired menu options. The BDP-93 struck that proverbial "just right" that made it easy to navigate menus. It also performed reliably with all the disc types I tried, with no freezes or hiccups.

Regarding the BDP-93's upconversion of standard 480i DVDs, the Marvell chip (HDMI 1) was the better all-around performer, but the basic processing chip (HDMI 2) also proved itself worthy with film-based sources. The Marvell chip did an excellent job in the scaling department, producing a well-detailed image on both a 46-inch TV and a 75-inch projection screen. It passed the film and video tests on the HQV Benchmark DVD (Silicon Optix), and it passed my real-world Gladiator (DreamWorks) DVD test: The Coliseum flyover in chapter 12 was generally clean, with minimal jaggies and no blatant moiré in rooftops. However, the Marvell chip failed my torture-test scene from chapter four of the Bourne Identity DVD (Universal Home Video), where two men sit in a cafeteria, surrounded by closed window blinds. The processor was never able to lock on to the 3:2 cadence, producing moiré throughout the scene. Interestingly, the basic processor on HDMI 2 passed this test, cleanly rendering the blinds, and was actually a bit quicker in detecting 3:2 with many of the film-based tests. The basic processor did a solid job in the scaling department, but the image didn't appear to have quite as much detail as the Marvell chip. Beyond scaling, the Marvell chip also distinguished itself with video-based signals. I use a pilates workout DVD to test for jaggies, and the Marvell chip did an excellent job keeping all of those diagonals clean, whereas the HDMI 2 chip performed below average in this area. So, for the most consistent performance with all DVD content, HDMI 1 is the way to go, but HDMI 2 is still a good choice for DVD movies. In its HD processing, the BDP-93 passed the 1080i tests on the HD HQV Benchmark BD through both HDMI outputs, and it cleanly converted 1080p/24 to 1080p/60 in demo scenes from the Mission Impossible 3 (chapter eight, Paramount Home Video) and Ghost Rider (chapter six, Sony Pictures) Blu-ray discs.

In the 3D realm, the BDP-93 performed as desired. It automatically detected the Blu-ray 3D signal on the Monster House, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (20th Century Fox), and Monsters vs. Aliens (DreamWorks) discs, and I saw no issues with signal quality (in my experience thus far, the TV is the where you're likely to find issues with 3D performance). With VOD content, the BDP-93 had the newer version of the Netflix interface that allows you to browse and select titles without having to add them to your online queue. OPPO's Netflix interface has a slightly different layout than that of the other 3D Blu-ray players: The menu runs horizontally, rather than vertically, and it includes more genres/tabs to aid in the search process (with options like "top picks," "imaginative animation," "witty sitcoms," etc.). The BDP-93 was quicker to enter, exit, and maneuver the Netflix app than some of the other players. Unlike Netflix's subscription service, Blockbuster onDemand is a pay-per-use service, and its pricing and selection are comparable to what you get with Amazon or VUDU (more big-ticket releases than you get with Netflix). With both of these streaming services, the picture quality is dictated primarily by your broadband speed; unfortunately, my 1.5Mbps DSL connection makes for a compressed image and often-choppy playback.

On the audio side, I really enjoyed the opportunity to dust off some SACDs and DVD-Audio discs--including Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (Capitol Records), Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Sony Music), Cassandra Wilson's Traveling Miles (Capitol Records), and Queen's A Night at the Opera (DTS Entertainment)--as well as some of my standard CD demos. These music tracks were tight, crisp, and clean, and both the stereo and multichannel soundstages were big and balanced. The BDP-93 did not do anything to hinder the performance of my RGB speaker system and Pioneer VSX-55TXi receiver, which is what I ask of a source component. With movie soundtracks, the subwoofer volume was just a little low, so I manually turned it up to help flesh out the rumble of explosions and other LFE information. Otherwise, I was perfectly pleased with the performance of the multichannel outs with DVD/BD soundtracks.

Just as the BDP-83 had an audiophile complement (the BDP-83SE), OPPO will soon release a higher-end 3D Blu-ray player aimed at the audiophile crowd. The BDP-95 ($999) will feature a toroidal power supply custom designed by Rotel and two SABRE32 Reference ES9018 32-bit DACs from ESS Technology: one for the 7.1-channel output and one for the dedicated two-channel output that uses balanced XLR connectors.

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Low Points
Compared with players from Samsung, LG, and Panasonic, OPPO's Web platform is currently limited. The company's decision to go with Blockbuster's VOD app may be a boon to Blockbuster, but I'm not sure it's the best fit for OPPO--primarily because the service doesn't support HD streaming. VUDU offers 1080p video, and Amazon at least offers 720p. Right now, Blockbuster is SD-only, although that could certainly change. If OPPO chooses to make a deal with VUDU and goes with the VUDU Apps package, then you could also get apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr that are currently lacking. Near the end of my review session, OPPO released a firmware update (v. BDP9x-38-0126) that added Picasa to its Web package, and I have no doubt we'll see more upgrades in this area.

As I mentioned above, the BDP-93 uses a USB WiFi adapter for wireless network connectivity, as opposed to an integrated WiFi system. I personally have no qualms with the add-on adapter; however, if your rack space is tight or you're more concerned about your system's appearance, you may object to this approach. In explaining the decision to use an adapter, my OPPO rep said that the player's heavy-gauge steel chassis and aluminum front panel would interfere with reception for an integrated solution. They have considered an integrated solution in which the antenna is mounted behind the glossy part of the front panel, but they still worry that users with steel equipment racks would experience reception issues. So, for now, OPPO feels the add-on adapter is the most reliable option.

Finally, a true nitpick. I was very impressed with the overall quality of the owner's manual. It is thorough, logically organized, and written in a manner that should be easy to understand for the average user. However, I would've liked to have seen a clear explanation of how the dual-HDMI setup should be handled with a non-3D-ready HDMI receiver. I had to email my OPPO rep to confirm exactly what the player does to ensure compatibility.

Competition and Comparison
Compare the OPPO Digital BDP-93 with its competition by reading the reviews for the Denon DBP-1611UD, Cambridge Audio Azur 650BD, Samsung BD-C7900, and Panasonic DMP-BDT350. Learn more about 3D-capable Blu-ray Players by visiting our Blu-ray Players section.

Conclusion
OPPO Digital has done it again. In both performance and design, the new BDP-93 is a rousing success. It supports the two hottest new trends--3D and VOD--yet it's also built to accommodate most any system and play most any disc in your back catalog. At $499, the BDP-93 is a good value for a player that combines 3D, dual HDMI outputs, universal playback, and multichannel analog output. Of course, if you don't need or want those features, then there are plenty of lower-priced models from which to choose. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to having the complete package, the BDP-93 is the player to beat on the current Blu-ray landscape.

Additional Resources
• Read more Blu-ray player reviews from the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find an LED HDTV or plasma HDTV to get the most out of the BDP-93.
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