Blu-ray Players

Oppo BDP-103 Universal Blu-ray Player


Design and Setup of the Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Initially the Oppo BDP-103 looks very similar to the BDP-93 at first look but there are quite a few differences. The front of the unit has control buttons that now stand out a bit from the front instead of being totally flush, making them easier to find. There is a USB input but also an MHL/HDMI input on the front, the first time I've seen this feature in a Blu-ray player. Like the BDP-93 it is well built and made of metal, making it heavier and more rigid than most players on the market now.

The rear of the player has dropped the Component and Composite video outputs from the BDP-93, as the analog sunset is upon us, and there is also an HDMI input instead of the previous eSATA input. There are also an additional two USB jacks, allowing you to use one for the included Wi-Fi adapter and still having one free for another USB device.

In a welcome change from most players now, the Oppo includes a full 1GB of onboard storage for BD-Live content. With the cost of a 1 GB of flash memory being nearly nothing now, I wish more vendors would provide this with all their players. The dual HDMI outputs on the rear allow for you to send separate audio and video signals to you display and your audio receiver, or to do a dual display where audio and video are sent from both HDMI outputs. While you can send both to each HDMI output, the HDMI outputs are not identical as they use different chipsets. HDMI 1 has a larger degree of video adjustments available to it, and HDMI 2 is the only one that can send native DSD audio from an SACD.

The HDMI inputs on the Oppo BDP-103 allow you to feed a less ideal source, such as a cable box or online streaming content, and take advantage of the video processing inside of the Oppo to improve that source. With some displays still failing at deinterlacing content, most often on channels with scrolling text, being able to use the Oppo to properly deinterlace these as well as reduce macroblocking and other compression artifacts is a nice benefit. The front HDMI input also accepts MHL devices, most of which are typically using streaming or other lower resolution content that will benefit from the video processing. I'm sure many people wish the MHL input was on the rear so a device would be hidden away, but that also would make it less convenient to use with smartphones and tablets that also utilize MHL.

Streaming support for the Oppo player has been improved from the last generation, with Netflix now supporting 1080p and 5.1 audio, as well as the Kids interface that parents like myself will tell you is just wonderful. It also has support for Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, and Picasa, but not for other online services like Hulu Plus or Amazon. The MHL input and a Roku Stick (which Oppo sells as an option for the player) provides a bit of a work-around for this issue, but streaming support is where the universal players still fall short of other Blu-ray players.

Setting the Oppo up can be as simple as any other Blu-ray player, but with far more customization available to users it can also take a bit longer. All color spaces work correctly from the Oppo, so you can select based on what your system supports best. All of the video testing was done using HDMI 1, sometimes in dual display mode and sometimes in separate, as neither should provide any difference in picture or audio quality.