Oppo in 3D an Optical Delight

Oppo’s first Blu-ray 3D player is worth buying just for its 2D capability.

The BDP-93 is priced higher than most of the competition but picture purists won’t begrudge the $1350 price tag given the calibre of the extras – even if the appreciating dollar is making it harder to justify.

However, the premium’s partly due to one of the BDP-93’s most desirable features: it’s been hardware modified by NZ distributor RapalloAV so it can play back Blu-rays and DVDs from anywhere in the world, regardless of their regional coding.

This gives it a big advantage over the US model, although if you’re in the US you can use the BDP-93 for video streaming whereas here you have to be satisfied with merely its second-generation Qdeo video processing, dual HDMI outputs, wireless networking, universal audio, AVCHD and multi-media playback, 7.1/5.1/stereo analogue outputs (as well as optical and coaxial outs), eSATA and USB 2.0 ports (two)  … D’oh!!!

Everything about the BDP-93 exudes class. Even the polished packaging more befits Apple than a consumer electronics product while the substantial user manual puts Apple’s miniscule documentation to shame.

Lift the BDP-93 from the box and you’re immediately struck by its muscular heft and refined appearance.

I didn’t think a Blu-ray player could look more alluring than the 93’s predecessor, the BDP-83, but its successor is as eye-catching as its features are cutting edge.

Oppo even has managed to make its front panel more functional — and without compromising the fascia’s clean, uncluttered lines — by adding a USB port (the 83 has only one USB port, on the rear of the player that’s hard to access if rack mounted). (See comment below.)

Build quality is excellent while the solid backlit remote control is from the same mould as the 83’s, combining comprehensive functionality with a sensible configuration that makes it easy and intuitive to use.

All the most important features can be accessed with their own keys, from zoom to aspect ratio to output resolution, without having to access a multi-layered, on-screen menu.

Fire up the 93 and if the only Blu-ray 3D playback you’ve experienced is on a PlayStation 3, immediately you’ll appreciate its virtually silent operation.

Discs are quick to load and the multi-zone playback worked without a hitch. 3D playback, on Panasonic’s 50-inch VT20Z plasma, was just dazzling.

The Oppo flawlessly played Blu-ray 3Ds of Monster House, Piranha, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film, Clash of the Titans and Panasonic’s Avatar, but failed to recognise Jean-Michael Cousteau’s ocean trilogy was in 3D.

However, it’s not unusual for Blu-ray authoring to outdate Blu-ray player specifications and a firmware update is all that’s required for discs to play nicely.

It’s not only 3D playback that distinguishes the 93 from the 83: it also has different video processing — Qdeo instead of Anchor Bay — and two HDMI outs: one is for optimal Qdeo performance, using the dedicated DE2750 processor, the other for Oppo’s own processing.

Picture adjustment options are plentiful but, in my experience, should be used judiciously as it’s easy to introduce side effects that are just as unwanted as the problems you’re trying to eliminate.

The tweaking is more versatile than the 83’s Anchor Bay processor and can be customised for three different modes, which should be enough to handle the variability of DVD transfers.

The Qdeo certainly breathed new vigour into the 1972 western, The Culpepper Cattle Co, enriching it with a vividness and clarity that was breathtaking for unrestored, 40-year-old footage that wasn’t flash to start with.

But while this gave the 93 an edge over the 83’s processing, the trade-off was fleeting yet still distracting new image niggles.

With that in mind, Oppo’s 83 successor doesn’t offer enough new features or noticeably better performance to warrant upgrading.

But if you’ve yet to buy a Blu-ray player or want 3D capability, for under $1500 the BDP-93 is as close as you’ll get to one that scores nigh on 100%.

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4 Responses to “Oppo in 3D an Optical Delight”

  1. The BDP-83 had a USB port on the front panel as well as the back, just like the BDP-93.

    Netflix, Hulu etc. streaming isn’t permitted outside the US, but it’s easy enough to bypass these restrictions if you use a VPN service, most of which are cheap and easy to configure. Then all you have to deal with is NZ’s painful broadband speeds.

  2. Does using a VPN slow it down even more ?

  3. And are there any VPN services that come more recommended than others?

  4. No, it shouldn’t slow it down but it all depends on the VPN service you use (like anything, some are better than others). HideMyA** is a good bet, if a bit expensive. Or privacy.io (no good for punching through to US for Netflix etc., though, as you will appear to be in Europe, but generally good from all accounts).

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