On paper, the BDP-93 has all the makings of the ultimate Blu-ray player. It’s got Marvell Qdeo processing, DVD-Audio and SACD playback, 3D, Netflix and Blockbuster, dual HDMI outputs, and a host of other features that make it the rival of any player.
But you can get Blu-ray players that have nearly all these features for a fraction of the price. So the question is, does the BDP-93 perform well enough to justify its cost?
If you’ve never heard of OPPO, you’re forgiven. The small specialty manufacturer has been making DVD and Blu-ray players since 2004. They’ve gained a substantial following on the Interwebs for their extensive feature lists and high performance.
Take, for instance, the BDP-93′s DVD-Audio and SACD playback. Few companies still offer these formats at all (both being effectively dead). But many enthusiasts such as myself still have a fairly extensive library of titles that we’d still like to listen to. Very few Blu-ray players are available that play back both of these formats. Of those that due, some are actually just OPPO products in disguise.
The BDP-93′s setup menus are easy to navigate. The big-buttoned and backlit remote is easy to use, though the player is ever so slightly sluggish to respond to commands.
It’s not a big deal, but the BDP-93′s remote is also one of the few I’ve used that won’t bounce off my screen. Instead I have to reach over my shoulder to my rack to get it to work. Of the stable of remotes in my collection, the Apple TV and Pioneer BD player remotes have this same problem, but my AT&T U-Verse, Marantz or Rotel receivers, and most other Blu-ray players don’t have this issue. If your BDP-93 is in a rack away from your TV, just something to keep in mind. There’s also IR ins and RS232 for those with a more substantial custom install setup.
My review sample was manufactured in October 2010, and had the BDP9x-38-0126 firmware, which was the latest as of this writing. There is an option for the player to periodically check for new firmware updates and prompt you to update. It is enabled by default.
A wireless dongle is included, which hangs rather unceremoniously off the back of the unit. It worked fine, and I didn’t notice a quality difference when streaming Netflix with it versus Ethernet. Unlike most Blu-ray players, the BDP-93 comes with an HDMI cable. To me this is like saying “Thank you for buying an OPPO, we don’t want you to get ripped off. Have a free HDMI cable.” They get a kudos for that.
Using the Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark Blu-ray I found the video processing to be well above average in all tests. With the rotating bar pattern, the only noticeable jaggies were when the bar neared horizontal (i.e. the green area). This result was echoed using the HD Ship clip. This clip is a slow pan past an old sailing ship. The rigging is a criss-cross of lines at many diagonals. Only those near horizontal had any noticeable de-interlacing jaggies, and even these were minimal.
Also on this disc is a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge in standard definition. The result was similar, with only a small amount of jaggies on the near horizontal cabling. The BDP-93 performed better on this test than most Blu-ray players I’ve reviewed.
Using the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD the rotating bar pattern (similar to the S&M test, but in 480i) had some small jaggies at 45 degrees and again at roughly 15 degrees. Not as good a result as I was expecting, but the jaggies were small and hard to notice. The flag test on this disc, a waving flag in front of a brick building, showed real-world video deinterlacing was exceedingly good. The flag had no noticeable jaggies, though the brick wall behind showed a small amount of noise. All and all, well above average.
The BDP-93 was able to identify and correctly process the 3:2 sequence with both 480i and 1080i content.
Next I used my two favorite test DVDs. The end of Chapter 12 of Gladiator is a flyover of ancient Rome. The BDP-93 reproduced this difficult scene well, with minimal jaggies on the rooftops, though there was some noise in the fine details. It was a similar story with the Superbit version of The Fifth Element, Chapter 2. The amount of detail created by the BDP-93 in this scene was among the best I’ve seen, but it was also noisier than most others. This is a common tradeoff, extra detail at the expense of noise. The internal noise reduction circuitry did little to alleviate the issue. Was it a big deal? No, but enough that it was worth mentioning.
One big oversight in my book, and one that would prevent me from purchasing the BDP-93 if I were in the market for a BD player, is the lack of the ability to output DVDs at 24 fps (1080p/60 is the only option). Many Blu-ray player have this ability, and when you’re watching on a display that has or can adjust its framerate to a multiple of 24, the movie-watching experience is wonderfully judder-free. If your display doesn’t have this ability, then this isn’t anything you have to worry about. The 93 can output Blu-rays at 1080p/24, so this oversight is all the more disappointing.
Unlike the implementation of many current SACD-capable devices, the BDP-93 can output DSD over HDMI – no PCM conversion required. That’s presuming you have a receiver that can decode it (and chances are it will convert the stream to PCM internally so… it’s kinda hard to win this fight). If your receiver can’t decode DSD, setting the BDP-93 to PCM will send an 88.2kHz/24-bit signal instead, which is still way better than CD.
I listened to two old favorites, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac: Live at the BBC DVD-Audio and English Chamber Orchestra’s J.S. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos on SACD. Both sound and sounded absolutely brilliant. I also transferred some MP3s of various bitrates and some CD-quality WAV files to a USB drive. These sounded as good as their compression dictated. You can also hook up and entire hard-drive via a SATA connection on the back.
Honestly, though, if audio is your thing, you’re better off waiting for the BDP-95 (more on this below).
The Netflix interface is of the mid-level variety. You can’t search for new content, but there are category tabs along the top to show some new content. If you want to add something to your Instant Queue, you’ll have to use your computer. This is the case with most Blu-ray players with Netflix, but not all (and not the PS3 or Apple TV, where you can search). The image quality was decent, though not quite as detailed as I’ve seen on other players. There was no Chroma Upsampling Error, which some players have had.
I didn’t check Blockbuster on Demand because there are no HD offerings and to me, that makes it irrelevant.
OPPO has said they’ll be adding new streaming services, but so far can’t discuss what they are. I’d like to see VUDU or Amazon on Demand, but honestly until something else is added the streaming aspect of this player seems like an afterthought. It’s not badly implemented, but it’s just kinda… there.
Without a doubt, the OPPO BDP-93 is a fantastic Blu-ray player. Is it the best Blu-ray player? I’m not sure. The Toshiba BDX2500 is under $100 and offers video processing that’s nearly as good, the same Netflix interface, plus VUDU which is way better than Blockbuster. It doesn’t have 3D or the audio bona fides, but if you’re not into 3D or high-end audio, then it gets you a lot of the way there.
On the other hand, it makes a pretty compelling case for itself in other ways. The video processing is top notch, it sounds great, and offers a lot of features not found on other BD players. In that regard, the BDP-93 has very little competition, and when you incorporate the price, there’s almost nothing else out there.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the BDP-95, which should be available in a few weeks. It has all the same video quality as the 93, but adds a SABRE32 Reference ES9018 32-bit DAC, a Rotel toroidal power supply, and XLR analog outputs.
If you’re a videophile looking for a BD player with excellent processing that does just about everything, and you like to listen to decent audio sometimes, this is the player for you. If you’re a video and audiophile, the BDP-95 looks to be a pretty amazing player.
HD Guru awards the OPPO BDP-93 Blu-ray Player: $499.99 aÃ‚Â Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥ (out of five hearts)Ã‚Â rating
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