The Oppo BDP-93 is the latest in a long line of reliable products from this little known (outside of dedicated A/V circles) but much lauded Hardware Company.
As with previous Oppo products, instead of rushing to market with a unit full of bugs and operating issues, Oppo chose instead to research what consumers wanted, what they felt they weren’t getting from competitive units and then built those specs straight into the player.
The BDP-93 is not Oppo’s first nor most exclusive player (that would be the BDP-95) but I think it’s the player in the Oppo range most likely to find its way into the homes of the majority of Oppo’s potential clients.
It differs from its predecessor the BDP-83 in two important respects in that it has wired/wireless networking capabilities and like so many modern Blu-Ray devices is less just a disc player and more an all round digital hub. If it’s important to you, it also plays 3D discs which the “83” didn’t. Again, like most Oppo products it comes with all the connectors and dongles you’ll need to start operating the device straight out of the box.
Set-up was easy, I just removed my previous player a Pioneer BDP-51FD
which had a great picture and sound but which was woefully slow to operate and connected to my Panasonic plasma display
via HDMI (the Oppo has two HDMI outputs so you can connect one to a TV and one to a projector although I believe video processing is limited to HDMI 1). I then connected the Oppo’s coaxial, digital audio output to one input on my receiver (for late night headphone listening) and 5.1 of the 7.1 analog audio outputs to another input for high resolution sound on the rare occasion we get to enjoy a full movie presentation over our speakers. My receiver’s too old to have HDMI and too nice to update just yet.
First impressions of the Oppo, including the impressive packaging complete with HDMI cable, wi-fi dongle and a nifty “Oppo” branded reusable shopping bag (Yay!), were positive if a little mysterious. Even the user manual is printed in the kind of quality you’d expect from an up-scale art magazine.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Spinal Tap phrase: “None more black!” but that sums the Oppo’s looks up to a tee. I don’t know what kind of finish they’ve used here but the Oppo is the blackest piece of equipment I’ve ever seen. It seems to suck light in from surrounding galaxies. It’s as if the only way you’ll see it is if it moves! This can make finding front panel fuction buttons a bit of a chore but as an alternative you can use the included, comprehensive and back-lit remote.
Any previous “perceived” concerns about Oppo build quality (which never actually materialized as real problems) can be forgotten with this unit which is most definitely mid-range posing as high-end!
I wasn’t sure I’d use the network facilities but as the wi-fi dongle was supplied I thought I’d give it a try. My main use would be to access Netflix. I haven’t had a lot of success with Netflix streaming on my computer. We have a super-fast, fiber optic, connection but even then the picture I got was spotty and jerky especially since Netflix implemented the god-awful Microsoft Silverlight player. However streaming on the Oppo is in a different league entirely. Movies streamed in 720p HD can look absolutely stunning, almost comparable to a Blu-Ray disc. At present sound is limited to Dolby Digital 2.0 with Netflix but if I’m watching Babylon 5 re-runs or 1990s Jackie Chan movies over headphones to be honest, I just don’t care. It’s an essentially free service since I was paying the same amount for a ‘disc only” contract just a few years back.
In addition to Netflix and at the time of writing the Oppo also supports streaming of Blockbuster on-line, Film Fresh (whatever that is) and Pandora internet radio with more to be added in due course.
The player features USB connectors both front and rear for accessing data from connected devices, it is comfortable with a huge range of files and formats.
Now, if I really do want to watch a movie and enjoy the full Blu-Ray disc experience, I can either buy or rent the title for maximum quality. At first I thought maybe my previous Pioneer’s Blu-Ray picture was just that tad bit better. The Oppo (though incredibly good) looked a little flatter, a little harder and just a bit less gorgeous than the renowned Pioneer’s presentation. I did a little tweaking and got things a lot closer but by the time I was finished, I only had a distant memory of the Pioneer picture to judge by. I would need to do a direct A/B comparison to confirm my initial findings and as I had sent the Pioneer back for warranty replacement (it quit playing CDs). I no longer have a facility to do that.
In a nutshell though the Oppo, like most every other Blu-Ray player I have ever witnessed regardless of price, delivers a stunning picture experience with Blu-Ray discs. It also performs tasks very quickly with load-to-screen times now approaching those of DVD players.
The real secret that this $499.00 player is hiding, the one aspect of performance in which it pulls cleanly away from the field of $150.00 players snapping at its heels, is its truly startling capability with up-scaling DVDs. The Qdeo Video processing is just out-of-this-world! Watching a well transferred DVD on this well, I swear if I just walked in from another room, I’d be convinced I was looking at a Blu-Ray picture. It’s that good and with an extensive back-library of DVD titles, worth the price of admission alone. I’ve owned players which cost twice as much and didn’t perform half as well.
Outside of my car, I don’t really listen to CDs much anymore. If I have background music on while I’m cooking etc., I’ll usually select Rhapsody on-line or one of my cable provider’s extensive, specialist channels. I did test the player and the CD performance is crisp, well staged with deep, solid, bass and sparkling, airy highs. It’s as good a player as I’ll ever need and if you have even loftier requirements you can opt for the up-scale BDP-95 model which supposedly boasts even better audio. This player even supports SACD and DVD-Audio which is great for the three discs I actually bought while I thought those formats were alive and kicking.
So once again Oppo have scored a home run. It’s not happened by accident but, as in the past, real consumer feedback, beta testing just listening to what we, the consumer, really want in a product we will have to live with day in, day out.
In my humble bedroom system I have an older Oppo DV971HJ
up-scaling DVD player I’ve owned for many years. It harbours the same philosophy as its newer sibling. It still offers great and reliable performance and has never failed me once. Sadly it’s being replaced because I’ve now realized I want Blu-Ray and especially Netflix streaming available in all my systems. If I had any sense and commensurate with the value/quality of the rest of my bedroom set-up, I should probably have dropped $100.00 on a generic Sony or LG. But guess what? I’ve gone ahead and ordered another BDP-93!
I’ve reached the stage in my life when I’ve started to substitute “It’s cheap!” with “It works!”
And that sums up the incredible Oppo BDP-93 streaming Blu-Ray player.