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

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

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Oppo_BDP-93_Bluray_Player_review_angled.gifFans of OPPO Digital's media players will tell you that the company offers the best of both worlds. In terms of product development and rollout, OPPO's approach is more like that of a high-end company: The goal is not to release a whole new product line every year and meet arbitrary deadlines; rather, the goal is to make sure that every product released meets high performance and quality standards.

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The process involves careful selection of components and a lot of testing. Once the product arrives on the market, the company pays close attention to customer issues and works quickly to resolve them with firmware updates. At the same time, OPPO prices its products in the realm of the reasonable, perhaps a bit higher than the mainstream manufacturers but generally lower (often significantly so) than high-end specialty companies. That win-win combination has earned OPPO a loyal and passionate following that has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new BDP-93, which replaces the acclaimed but now-discontinued BDP-83.

The BDP-93 is OPPO's first Blu-ray player to support 3D playback and streaming video-on-demand. Like its predecessor, the BDP-93 is a universal disc player that supports playback of the SACD, DVD-Audio, and HDCD formats, as well as AVCHD, MP4, DivX, MKV, FLAC, and WAV files. This Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player offers BD-Live Web functionality and BonusView/picture-in-picture playback, and it sports dual HDMI outputs, for compatibility with non-3D-capable AV receivers. The BDP-93 offers bitstream output and onboard decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, with 7.1-channel analog audio outputs. OPPO's Web platform includes Netflix and Blockbuster OnDemand, and you can add the player to your network via a wired or wireless connection (a USB WiFi adapter is included). The BDP-93 has an MSRP of $499 and can be purchased directly via OPPO Digital's website or through authorized retailers like Amazon.

As I opened the box and gazed upon the meticulous care with which the BDP-93 was packaged, I knew I was in for something beyond the mainstream. The chassis is larger and heftier than the new designs from companies like Samsung and Sharp, but its dimensions (16 x 12.2 x 3.1) and weight (10.8 pounds) certainly aren't unwieldy, and its brushed-aluminum faceplate and stylishly minimalist front-panel design lend an air of elegance. Two LCD panels sandwich the center-aligned disc tray, while the buttons for power, eject, and transport control are flush with the unit's face, essentially disappearing into the design. The accompanying remote control is also a bit larger than average, but it boasts full backlighting and an intuitive button layout.

The BDP-93's connection panel sports dual HDMI 1.4 outputs, as well as component video, composite video, optical digital, coaxial digital, and multichannel analog audio outputs. I began with a basic setup of HDMI running directly from the player to the Samsung UN46C8000 3D TV. Upon power-up, the BDP-93 walks you through an Easy Setup Wizard in which you designate a primary HDMI output (more on this in a minute), select a video output resolution, set your aspect-ratio preference (if you have a 16:9 display, you can decide whether or not to add black bars to 4:3 content), and select the best audio setting for your display ("compatible" offers a standard-resolution signal that includes secondary audio, while "advanced" is ideal if your receiver has high-resolution audio decoding). Once the Easy Setup Wizard is complete, the BDP-93's Home Menu appears, which includes eight icons: Music, Photo, Movie, My Network, Netflix, Blockbuster, Internet, and Setup Menu. It's not the most attractive interface I've encountered on a Blu-ray player, but it's clear and easy to navigate.

The primary benefit of having two HDMI outputs is that it eliminates the need to upgrade to a 3D-ready A/V receiver. Older, non-3D-ready HDMI receivers don't understand the EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) that identifies the 3D display, and they won't pass a 3D video signal due to lack of bandwidth or video buffer. With two HDMI outputs, you can send the 3D video signal directly to your display via one output and send the audio signal directly to your receiver via the other. If this is how you plan to connect the BDP-93, then you don't have to do any special configuration in the setup menu: Some 3D Blu-ray players require you to turn off the video signal through one of the HDMI outputs, but the BDP-93 handles this automatically. If you connect HDMI 1 to a 3D-capable TV and HDMI 2 to a non-3D-capable receiver, the BDP-93 will automatically detect a 3D signal and output a 2D blank screen to the receiver, along with the audio signal.

You can also output a full AV signal from both HDMI outs (yes, that includes 3D), allowing you to use the BDP-93 with two different systems. The catch is, only HDMI 1 uses the high-end Marvell QDEO DE2750 video processor; HDMI 2 uses a more basic processing chip. As I mentioned above, you must dictate which HDMI output you want to be the primary one. If you select HDMI 1, then that port will use the Marvell chip to upconvert signals to 1080p, while HDMI 2 puts out all signals at their native resolution. If you designate HDMI 2 as the primary, then you can get 1080p/60 through both HDMI outputs simultaneously, but again HDMI 2 uses a more basic processing chip, not the Marvell chip. (We'll compare performance in the next section.)

Like all newer Blu-ray players, the BDP-93 can be configured to output Blu-ray films at either 1080p/60 or 1080p/24, and this player also has a Source Direct mode that allows you to output all signals at their native resolution--which is ideal if you already own a high-quality external video processor. Other setup options include the ability to choose between multiple HDMI color spaces (auto, RGB video level, RGB PC level, YCbCr 4:4:4, and YCbCr 4:2:2), enable Deep Color up to 36 bits, and designate NTSC or PAL. A Picture Adjustment menu includes controls for brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness, and noise reduction (the Marvell chip adds color enhancement and contrast enhancement for HDMI 1). Using these controls, you can configure three different picture modes--for instance, one for DVD, one for Blu-ray, and one for VOD. The BDP-93 also offers multiple zoom modes, including a stretch mode that vertically stretches the image for use with a projection system and anamorphic lens.

As for 3D setup, the BDP-93 is configured to automatically detect and output a 3D Blu-ray signal, but you can disable this if you don't have a 3D TV. The only other 3D setup tool is the ability to enter your TV's screen size so that the player can optimize output, particularly menus and graphics, for your screen size. The BDP-93 does not let you change the type of 3D output signal--for instance, you can't get checkerboard output for compatibility with older 3D TVs. (Panasonic players are currently the only ones I'm aware of that let you change the 3D output signal.)

On the audio side, the player has Dolby True-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoders, and it can pass these formats in bitstream form over HDMI for your receiver to decode. In my case, my HDMI-equipped receiver died right before this player showed up for review, so those multichannel analog audio outputs came in quite handy. Within the setup menu, I turned off the HDMI audio and set the speaker size, level, and distance for the analog outputs. The menu also allows you to select a crossover point between 40 and 250 Hz and to downmix the analog signal from 7.1 to 5.1, LT/RT, or stereo. I went with 5.1. Other audio setup options include the ability to set an LPCM rate limit for the coaxial/optical outputs (48, 96, or 192), select DSD or PCM output for SACDs, and enable HDCD decoding. The BDP-93 sports a Pure Audio mode that allows you to turn off the video processing and video output to reduce possible interference and improve audio performance.

The BDP-93's back panel includes an Ethernet port for network connectivity, and the package also includes a USB WiFi adapter for a wireless connection. This adapter can connect to a back-panel or front-panel USB port, both of which also support the addition of a USB drive for media playback or BD-Live storage. The BDP-93 does have 1 GB of internal memory to store BD-Live content. The player also offers an eSATA port to connect an external hard drive and access a complete media library; however, it doesn't officially support DLNA media streaming from a networked media server. Interestingly, the Home Menu does include a My Network section that the owner's manual calls an "experimental feature" for streaming networked media content; the company directs people to the OPPO Wiki for information on how to configure and use this feature. I don't have a DLNA-capable server, so I did not test this function.

Finally, the BDP-93 offers both an RS-232 port and an IR input for integration into a more-advanced control system.

I was fortunate to have four other 3D Blu-ray players in-house when the BDP-93 arrived, so I began my evaluation by doing some speed comparisons. Going up against models from Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba (all priced under $300, but none with dual HDMI outputs or universal playback), the OPPO was actually one of the slower players to go from power-on to the "No disc" message. It took about 28 seconds, whereas the Panasonic and Toshiba models did it in about 10 seconds. However, when it came to loading discs, the OPPO was consistently the fastest. With DVDs, the load times were similar amongst most of the players, with the BDP-93 having an advantage of just a few seconds. The discrepancy grew with Blu-ray discs, particularly Blu-ray 3D discs and discs like Iron Man (Paramount Home Video) that sport Java-heavy menus. The BDP-93 loaded the Monster House Blu-ray 3D disc (Sony Pictures) 13 seconds faster than the closest competitor.

Read more about the Oppo BDP-93's performance on Page 2.

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