If you’ve ever scoffed at a lady friend for carrying a $700 purse… if you think a pair of Benjamins is too much to pay for a nice pair of running shoes… if you’ve ever wondered why anyone would spend twice (or thrice) too much for a luxury ride when your hooptie gets you from Point A to Point B just fine… it’s safe to say that OPPO’s BDP-93 is not the Blu-ray player for you. Especially when you consider the number of 3D-capable Blu-ray players on the market selling for half (or a third) as much.
At $499, the BDP-93 is definitely a luxury. That’s evident from the moment you open the box; rather than the standard crumbly styrofoam packaging, the player is cradled in dense, black foam, with a sturdy, stylish box for the remote, accessories, and the included HDMI cable (a classy touch, I might add), and the hardware itself comes wrapped not in disposable padded paper, but rather in a reusable canvas shopping bag.
Once un-bagged, the BDP-93 reveals itself to be a beautiful, sturdy player that just plain feels expensive in a way that so many players don’t. Of course, that’s not to say that you’ll be boxing and unboxing the player every day to appreciate the lavish packaging or opulent build quality. And none of these niceties could make up for lackluster performance.
Thankfully, the BDP-93’s video output lacks nary a bit of luster.
Granted, that may be a hard sell, given that even $200 Blu-ray players boast excellent video processing and nigh-perfect video. It’s like, how much more good could it be. And the answer is, “None. None more good.”
That said, the BDP-93 passes every test I throw at it via HQV’s Benchmark Blu-ray without a hitch. 3:2 detection? Bam! Jaggies? Fuhgeddaboudit. The player’s Marvell Kyoto-G2 Qdeo video processor performs beautifully on every objective test, and with actual movies delivers an incredibly detailed, film-like image that — while it may not completely obliterate other players on the market — certainly hasn’t been bested by anything I’ve laid eyes on.
The BDP-93 also includes dual HDMI 1.4 outputs, which is a nice if not unique touch. It’s an essential one for those like me who want to use the player’s 3D output capabilities but own an older processor (in my case, Anthem’s D2v) without 3D-passthrough capabilities. The setup menus offer plenty of options for configuring the outputs, enabling me to send video only directly to my Samsung PN58C8000 plasma, and lossless audio to the Anthem.
Not all is 100% hunky dory in Audiovisual Funland, though: the BDP-93’s one major quirk is a nasty audio sync issue, which I experience whether I’m using one HDMI output or both, and whether the player is hooked up to the PN58C8000/D2v combo in the main media room, or through Anthem’s MRX 700 receiver into a Samsung LN40A550 LCD TV in my secondary AV room. Either way, I have to use the processor or receiver’s lip sync compensation (set to 156 ms or thereabouts) to get a decent sync between picture and sound. Hopefully this is something OPPO can fix in a future firmware update — and this is as good a place as any to mention that firmware updates via the network or USB are a snap — because it’s not an issue I have with my OPPO BDP-83 (nor my PS3, nor TiVo, nor any other source in the house).
That issue aside, audio performance is exemplary (although if you’re a gung-ho, price-be-damned audiophile, OPPO’s new BDP-95 offers a number of aural upgrades over the 93). For someone like myself, still hanging onto a sizeable high-res disc-based music collection, the BDP-93’s DVD-Audio and SACD capabilities are absolutely essential, and a feature you won’t find on many of the less-expensive Blu-ray players competing with the OPPO. SACD output can be configured as direct-DSD (if your processor can decode it) or PCM via HDMI, or internally decoded and DAC’d if you’re using the player’s multichannel analog audio outputs.
That level of customizability runs through most elements of the BDP-93’s operation. If you’ve got a constant-height theater, for example, and find yourself bawwing over subtitles that don’t fit on the screen with ultra-widescreen films, the BDP-93 has a fix for that in the form of subtitle shift, with five increments of upward or downward offset. (Not sure why you’d need downward shift, but hey, it’s there.) Oddly enough, though, while the OPPO does feature 24fps playback for Blu-ray (duh!), it’s not an option for DVD, no matter which settings you select.
In terms of control, the BDP-93 offers RS-232 connectivity, as well as a mini-jack input for IR control on the back. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to be able to find the right signal-strength setting on my URC MRF-350 RF base station to keep from overwhelming and locking up the BDP-93 when using the IR control input, so I swapped out the cable for an IR blaster on the front of the player, and haven’t had any lockup issues since.
Let’s see… So far we’ve covered most of the functions of the BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player. Universal? Check. (That pretty much means if you put a five-inch disc in it, it’ll play, not to mention the fact that it’ll stream nearly every audio format known to man from your PC.) 3D? Check. (With the dual HDMI outputs meaning that you can access 3D even if your sound system isn’t so equipped.)
Let’s not forget the Network part of the equation, though. These days, just about every player on the market offers streaming video sources of some sort. Netflix is available here (in a rather basic interface that still requires you to build your streaming queue via computer or smart phone), as is Blockbuster (huh? Who uses that?). The DivX-based Film Fresh is also a new option, but I honestly couldn’t find a single movie on the service worth renting or buying that isn’t already available via Netflix. OPPO plans to expand its online offerings (I can has Amazon, pls?), but there’s no word on what else will be offered, or when.
Honestly, though, OPPO’s online video functionality seems more like an afterthought — the sort of thing they had to do because everyone else is doing it. At least for the time being.
And truth be told, just about every other device in my media room streams Netflix and more (most with more functionality, although the OPPO is on par with the best of the bunch in terms of video quality), so it’s not a concern on my part. Just don’t go out and buy a BDP-93 if Netflix streaming is your main concern. Buy it because you want well-built hardware. Buy it for the flexibility of setup options and the (mostly) excellent performance. Buy it for reputation of the OPPO name. Or buy it because you just like nice things.
Product Page: OPPO BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Player