- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 21 January 2013
The Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray Player In Use
The first thing I noticed about the BDP-103 is how much faster it is than the BDP-93 that it replaces. The 93 has been my main player since it was released, and it is a bit slow to startup and begin working, but the 103 is much quicker. Responsiveness was always good but it is improved as well, making it a very good user experience. The BDP-93 seemed fast when it was released but time takes a toll on everything, and that speed deficit has been remedied in the BDP-103.
Watching movies was the same experience at it was on the BDP-93. Every color, detail, and even imperfection of a Blu-ray disc is presented on screen for you exactly as it is on disc. Nothing added or removed, but as pure an image as anyone can offers. DVDs are also scaled remarkably well, offering better detail and anti-aliasing than almost any other player out there. Of course Oppo has been making excellent players, and acing every test we throw at it, for years now so it is more the added features that we want to examine on the BDP-103.
Using the HDMI input to feed streaming Internet video of the Chicago Marathon, the image looked better than when fed to my plasma directly. Macroblocking was reduced by a noticeable amount and the image was better than expected on a 50" display. The Oppo wasn't able to turn bad streaming video into Blu-ray quality, or even good DVD quality, but it made it more watchable than without it. Without a Roku stick or compatible smartphone I wasn't able to test the MHL input but having it makes the Oppo more flexible going forward
One area of drastic improvement I found was the performance of the Oppo for browsing my networked music collection. I have over 400 albums, with over 300 different artists, stored as lossless FLAC audio on a NAS that uses DLNA to serve music around my house. Previously the Oppo was able to browse and play this back, but it was very slow in doing so. Now the Oppo seems to cache the full directory listing, instead of a page at a time, letting me browse and playback music much faster than before.
It also works as a DLNA renderer, so with a supported media controller you can actually send content to it (much like you use AirPlay to send audio from an Apple device to a receiver) instead of needing to browse. The ability to browse the network was nice in the BDP-93, but not very functional with a music library as large as mine and required a display be turned on. With the updates in the new Oppo it now works well for any size music collection. The forthcoming iOS application should make it easy as well for those of us with iPhones, and Android users already have an app that they can use.
All of the streaming services work well, and are caught up to where they are on other platforms. Netflix has full 1080p and 5.1 audio support, and is quick to load and buffer. The kids' interface is a welcome addition that makes life very easy for parents once your kid is addicted to Thomas the Tank Engine or Curious George or any other children's series. The issues I have with the Netflix design are those that are due to how Netflix wants it to look, and that Oppo and other vendors have no control over. Vudu and its streaming HDX titles look and sound great, and buffering isn't an issue with the included Wi-Fi adapter, as you will generally be limited by your Internet connection.
Gracenote support is a welcome addition, as movie and music titles that were inserted into the Oppo were quickly identified and detailed. This is most useful with music playback, to know the track names and details as you listen to something but is not that useful if you are listening without your display enabled. Hopefully the iOS and Android apps will provide this data on screen as you listen, making them very useful during playback.
Compared to the prior model, the Oppo BDP-103 is faster, with better online support, better local streaming support, and with a whole new feature in the video processing that no other player can offer. That's quite an accomplishment while still keeping the video performance and price at the same level as before.