You may not have heard of the company, but among audio- and videophiles “in the know,” Oppo, a Chinese manufacturer, reigns as a “best bargain” champ among very high-performance disc-player brands. The company makes a noted effort to include high-quality parts and better-than-usual engineering designs to maximize both audio and video quality, plus, uses extensive beta-testing and consumer feedback to continually improve its designs—all at rock-bottom prices. So, A/V geeks are excited about Oppo’s first Blu-ray player, the BDP-83.
What’s really cool about the
forthcoming player is that it also is one of the first universal Blu-ray players—not only compatible with DVDs and CDs, but also (as with Oppo’s other DVD players) with two effectively stillborn competing high-resolution audio formats from earlier this decade, DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD), that suffered a format war similar to the HD-DVD/Blu-ray war of the last few years (and fought by basically the same manufacturers…will they never learn?). So, there’s little the BDP-83 won’t play (namely the defunct HD-DVD hi-def format).
A couple of caveats: I have not reviewed the player, but am going on Oppo’s excellent reputation. And, the company has reported in an email to Sound and Vision’s Leslie Shapiro that at this stage in the BDP-83’s development, the player’s firmware currently only supports Blu-ray Profile 1.1, meaning some features of the Blu-ray spec will not be supported immediately out of the gate, such as some interactive and net-based features. Also, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio (both lossless, uncompressed audio formats in the Blu-ray spec) may not be supported via onboard decoding at launch, although these bitstreams will be outputted to your receiver or preamp/processor for decoding. However, the company promises a firmware update soon after launch to rectify these issues, and may offer a mind-blowing price at launch as an incentive for early-adopters who want to check out the interim feature set, knowing that these issues will be corrected via update in the near future. Look for the first incarnation of the player to land early in January in the $499-$599 range—easy to recommend assuming it’s a typically excellent Oppo product. Do check out the link above for more technical info. and the Oppo email.
By Will Sullivan,
Contributing Writer, [GAS]