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Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Player Review Print E-mail
Friday, 29 May 2009
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Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Player Review
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OPPO’s BDP-83 received a workout via several different styles of Blu-ray discs, ranging from state-of-the-art digital film technology to grainy low-grade quality, as well as from one of 2008’s brightest and most interestingly detailed computer-generated films.  In a nutshell, OPPO’s player certainly packs an extraordinary punch in both aural and visual specs in the technology – whether consideration is taken for its price tag or not.  Displaying splendid 1080p depth and sending through raw bitstream audio tracks from the discs (always refreshing to see the DTS HD Master Audio and TrueHD tokens crop up on a capable receiver – this one being Onkyo’s SR605), it’s a notably powerful, astonishingly quiet player with just a few operational caveats.   For reference, all of the discs were tested via HDMI through the designated receiver, outputting at 1080p.
As a give-in example to test its capacity to render one of the benchmark releases to date, the OPPO first got to taste a bit of Paramount / Criterion’s release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  As a warm-up, the OPPO was already looking rather striking in this reviewer’s eyes by rendering this beautiful 2.4:1 disc; composing detail, color contrast, and near-touchable textures, it made the beautiful, albeit digitally manipulated, New Orleans’ setting look stunning.  Color depth was staggering, rendering the beautiful range of cold blues in the hospital scenes to the warm yet under-saturated tones throughout all of Ben’s endeavors.  On the audio front, the disc offers a DTS HD Master Audio track – which streamed brilliantly.   Depth in vocal strength, musical accompaniment, and tight, throaty yet tailored bass levels highlighted this experience, one that was even better than the already high expectations.  

Next, it was time to test a slightly more complicated disc -- Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler.  Shot with Super 16mm film, it doesn’t build into the most awe-inspiring of high-definition experiences.  However, added clarity and depth of color when rendering a tough source is still very important, something the OPPO BDP-83 handles splendidly.  It took a while for the OPPO to load the disc due to Fox’s lengthy boot times, but it was worth the wait.  Though grainy in its 2.35:1 image, there’s a lot of nice detail that pours through the lower-quality source in The Wrestler – wood grain, skin tones, and fabric texture on knee wraps and clothing.  Rendering the image’s noise in a solid fashion, all while bitstreaming the DTS HD Master Audio perfectly, the OPPO handles it by supporting the grain structure and building apt solidity where needed without any distortion.  

Oppo rear

Somewhere in between, Tartan’s Blu-ray presentation of Park Chan-wook’s comedy I’m a Cyborg displayed an equally impressive experience.  Differing a bit from the director’s normal 2.35:1 framing, this disc carries a 1.78:1 aspect ratio – brightly colored, richly detailed, and exquisite in many ways.  From the slick, pastel-heavy visual design to the tight attention to little mechanical details like metallic weave on a radio, OPPO’s player lends a natural air about even more highly unnatural elements.  This disc comes with both DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD tracks, both of which streamed into the receiver and popped up with the proper labeling on the display.  Though this disc is region-free for the film itself, the special features are encoded in PAL and, therefore, cannot be played in many players in the United States.  The OPPO, in a slightly stunning move, have enabled the BDP-83 to play PAL special features – activating the SD Making-of featurette and others available for screening.  They might not have been able to make their player region-free for Blu-rays, but making these otherwise unwatchable special features helps to ease the blow.

Finally, it was time to give animation a go on OPPO’s diligent machine in the form of Dreamworks / Paramount’s Kung Fu Panda, an excellent release in its own right.  Ranging from compelling hand-drawn attractiveness in its first few minutes to exquisitely built 3D animation, OPPO’s player handled both the richness of color and the attention to detail in compelling ways.  Po’s stumble around the noodle house showcases the player’s capacity to render extraordinarily minute details, slick color gradation, and an immensely potent sound design with the Dolby TrueHD track.  

Accessing BD-Live was successful via the Ethernet port to the rear of the unit, though it took a while to access and boot up Sony’s BD-Live site for The Da Vinci Code.  However, once it connected and started to navigate through, the player’s software supported the experience well.  It allowed for connection with Sony’s site to redeem a movie ticket for Angels and Demons, connecting to an e-mail account without any stumbles.  Profile 1.1 content, however, was a bit finicky.    Out of the box, it would load the PiP at the lower extremities of the screen for several discs (Angels and Demons, Kung Fu Panda) – but wouldn’t attach the sound files to the secondary picture.  With the latest firmware file (BDP83-22-0430) loaded onto the machine, it has some difficulties; hopefully, with further updates, the BD-Java will run a bit smoother.  

To test the region-coding status of the OPPO BDP-83, a copy of Fox’s Region B-locked The Fountain was given a spin – which, sadly, was rejected due to region status.  Fox’s statement popped on the screen, along with a slight wave of disappointment in this reviewer’s eyes.  It’s an expected rejection, but it’s still a mild deterrent from the player.

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