Yesterday, I got an email from a beloved member of our editorial team asking me if I knew if Oppo Digital might have a secret stash of BDP-103s that they could get a unit from at an accommodation price. That's like asking someone if their recently dead uncle could do them a favor. He's dead. Oppo, in terms of the AV business, is sadly pretty much dead too at this point, too, at least in terms of disc players. So, in the spirit of looking for alternative suggestions, I took a quick look at Ebay.com to see what a used UHD Blu-ray player that originally sold for $500 was going for now. And that's when I fell out of my Herman Miller Aeron chair.
The Oppo Digital UDP-203 (not the audiophile 205 version with more fancy DACs) was selling for anywhere from $2,000 to a "buy it now" price of $2,800. You will note this is not just a discontinued unit, but one that retailed for about $500. Yes, the reviewer community loved this player, as did the AV enthusiast world. They were rock solid disc players with a long history of meaningful firmware updates, as well as legacy disc support for dead HD audio formats like DVD-Audio and SACD, while playing the latest 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. They were great players, but Oppo saw the writing on the wall and called it quits while they were ahead. I miss them as a company and a client, but the international cell phone business is a hell of a lot bigger than the headphone and silver-disc-player business.
More mainstream AV companies presently make UHD Blu-ray players that sell for less than $200, such as the Sony UBP-X700. The $250 UBP-X800 comes with more features, as well as free two-day shipping on Amazon, and even plays legacy audio formats like SACD and DVD-Audio. Samsung has units like the UBD-M7500 and M8500 priced slightly above (and below) $200, and while they don't feature full legacy disc support, how much do you really still listen to that DSOTM SACD?
What's got the editors at HomeTheaterReview.com scratching our heads is this: a top-of-the-line Roku Ultra 4K streamer was selling for $49 on Black Friday and likely will never go above $100 ever again. This little sucker can do everything you need outside of the world of a silver disc. That means 4K movies, streaming 4K content from not only the majors but all sorts of niche content creators. It can stream music any and every which way. And for those who say "streaming sucks" in terms of performance: you don't know what you are talking about in the modern world. The 4K streaming in HDR from a Roku to a modern UHD TV is so close to the performance of a silver disc (assuming you have a moderately good Internet connection) that is almost impossible to tell the difference with most content. Is a 4K download from the Kaleidescape Store better? Yes, it is. But it requires a $4,000 server and over $30 per movie downloaded.
Oppo made one last batch of disc players before they left the market. With the demand out there in the used market, they should go back to that well again and make another 10,000 to 20,000 units and sell them at a premium. The fact that there are options on the market today that are far less expensive and/or "discless" doesn't seem to slow the demand for an Oppo player, which is one hell of a legacy in our industry. I love my Oppo player, but if somebody offered me $2,800 for it, I would have the DeWalt out and that sucker would be out of my rack for before I even checked to see if there was still a disc in the tray. My only regret would be that I didn't think to buy 100 players before the price spiked. Then again, the fact that I sold my Apple stock at $9.15 per share (I bought it at $9.75) tells you that I'm not great at pricing speculation.