There’s one bit of tech that I saw at this year’s CEDIA EXPO that I decided not to report on immediately, if only to give myself some time to reflect and digest. DarbeeVision unveiled a new version of the OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray player, which will feature integrated Darbee Visual Presence image processing on board. If you’re not familiar with Darbee’s image processing, my buddy Geoff reviewed the company’s Darblet Video Enhancer earlier this year in Sound + Vision. To his impressions, I’ll add the observation that Darbee-enhanced video almost looks tone-mapped to my eyes, although company representatives assure me that the actual enhancement process isn’t functionally like tone mapping at all. In effect, Darbee selectively tweaks the image on a pixel-by-pixel basis, focusing on the most dynamic areas of the image, to give it more depth, more detail, more “pop,” if you will.
Honestly, it’s not to my taste, but I think a lot of viewers would love, love, love the effect. It not only makes the image sharper without adding edge halos, but it also gives it an almost 3D-like quality without the cardboard-cutout look or eye-crossing. In the case of the OPPO BDP-103D, the Darbee processing will be done at 1080p, and upscaled to 4K after the fact, if the end-user so chooses. Apparently 1080p is the sweet spot for getting the most out of the Visual Presence enhancement without introducing artifacts.
DigitalFoundry has what I consider to be the best A/B comparison on YouTube, to give you an idea of what Darbee Visual Presence looks like in action (in this case with video games):
So, it’s two days later. Have I figured out what I think about all of this? Not really, to be honest. The most interesting thing is that the Darbee processing is being added to an OPPO player, specifically. As Geoff said in his review of the Darblet, there are generally two types of video enthusiasts: Purists, who want to see exactly the pixels that the content creators intended them to see, and Bestists, who just want things to look awesome. And I think most OPPO customers tend to be Purists. So it remains to be seen how well this partnership works out for both companies. The one thing I can say for certain is that this new Darbee enhancement isn’t adding as much to the cost of the player as I would have expected. The Darblet sells for over $300 on its own. The new OPPO BDP-103D (Darbee Edition) only sells for $100 more than its non-Darbee counterpart.
OPPO lists a “Coming Soon” release date for the BDP-103D, but if you’re interested, you can sign up to receive notification when it’s read to ship at the link below:
Product Page: [OPPO BDP-103D "Darbee Edition"]