Oppo BDP-103 review

For a hefty price, the Oppo BDP-103 offers top-notch performance along with every feature you could want in a Blu-ray player—and then some.

If you want to put a lot of effort into your home theater, you need to be prepared to spend some money. While you can get a perfectly fine, high-quality Blu-ray player like the Editors’ Choice LG BP620 for a relatively low price, it won’t necessarily integrate well with your high-end, AV receiver-equipped, HDTV-and-projector custom installation. For a Blu-ray player worthy of a private theater, you need to step up and get ready to cut a hefty check. Last year, we reviewed the Oppo BDP-93 and were impressed enough to give the massive, expensive Blu-ray player our Editors’ Choice. Oppo has since replaced it with the BDP-103; this $499 (direct) player edges out its predecessor with new features while delivering the same great performance and build quality, making it our new top pick for high-end Blu-ray players.

Sturdy, Thoughtful Design
At 3.1 by 16.8 by 12.2 inches (HWD) and 10.8 pounds, the BDP-103 is a beast compared with lower-end Blu-ray players, but slightly slimmer and lighter than the BDP-93. The chassis is constructed of sturdy metal, with a brushed black finish. The front is flat and sleek, covered by a handful of scattered, round buttons including Power, Eject, and playback controls. The drive tray sits in a plastic rectangle in the center of the faceplate, flanked by an informative LED display on the left and an eject button on the right. The display shows the source of the content you’re viewing, like Network for DLNA media, and even shows the status of your firmware downloads when you update the system. It’s a small detail, but one not often seen.

A USB port and HDMI input with MHL sit just below the display and tray rectangle. The back of the player is loaded with connections, including two HDMI outputs, 7.1-channel analog audio outputs, two USB ports, optical audio, coaxial audio, Ethernet, HDMI input, infrared blaster, and RS-232C for integrating the player with a control system. At least one of the USB ports will likely be occupied by the included Wi-Fi adapter, which has a USB extension for placing the adapter itself in a more reception-friendly location if the player is in an awkward place.

The remote is thick, sturdy, and backlit, with a reasonably sensible button layout. Dedicated Netflix and Vudu buttons let you access online services, and the control pad is round and easy to find blindly. The only problem is the Home button, which sits next to the number pad and feels identical to nearly every button on that part of the remote. Since that’s the main way to access the player’s home menu, it’s easy to fumble when you’re getting used to the remote. You can also use a free Android app to control the player from your smartphone or tablet, and an iOS version of the app is planned.

Features Galore
As expected given the price, the BDP-103 is loaded with features. It can play SACD and DVD-Audio discs, along with a host of video and audio file formats, including lossless and FLAC. It can play 3D Blu-ray discs and convert 2D video content into 3D (even if that conversion is always inferior to a native 3D source). It can even upscale to 4K resolution, so if you’re one of the very few who have the as-yet-unavailable-to-consumers next generation of high definition displays, you’re covered. You also get access to a  wide selection of online services, including Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, Film Fresh, and Picasa. For cinephiles, a source video mode lets you output video to a video processor without performing any processing itself, and a vertical stretch mode fits movies to a 2.35:1 anamorphic display.

Performance
Blazingly fast, the BDP-103 loaded Black Swan, a feature-rich Blu-ray with BD-Live, in an average of 23.2 seconds, edging out the BDP-93 by 2.2 seconds. It beats out the load speeds of the midrange Editors’ Choice LG BP620 by solid 3.8 seconds. It isn’t a massive leap in speed from lower-end Blu-ray players, but it’s certainly a bit faster by a few seconds compared to most. The only player that edges it out is the Panasonic DMP-BDT220′s  ability to load The Sound of Music 25th Anniversary Edition in just 22.3 seconds, and that’s too close to notice much of a difference. The BDP-103 also offers connectivity and video-processing features that BDT220 doesn’t touch.

We test Blu-ray video processing with the HQV Blu-ray benchmark disc, and the BDP-103 passed all tests with flying colors. It handled both 30fps video and 24fps film footage easily, and horizontal motion showed a minimum of tearing. Image processing artifacts were nearly nonexistent, and noise was slightly smoothed out without hurting detail.

The Oppo BDP-103 is just like its predecessor: big, expensive, and, well, excellent. It adds 2D-to-3D conversion, 4K upscaling, MHL HDMI inputs, and a handful of other features to an already top-notch high-end Blu-ray player that can handle any format you throw at it. It’s pricey at $500, but if you want a player that can do everything and really complement your complicated home theater system, this is the one to beat, replacing the BDP-93 as our Editors’ Choice for high-end Blu-ray players. If you don’t have a huge, expensive HDTV and sound system and can’t justify spending that much on a Blu-ray player, the LG BP620 is still quite a full-featured player. The BP620 doesn’t have the custom home theater bells and whistles of the BDP-103, but is available for just $150 and remains our favorite midrange choice.

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Specifications
Web Browser Yes
Online Content Services Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa
Blu-ray Yes
Wi-Fi Compatibility Yes
Smartphone/Tablet Control Yes
USB Ports 3
DLNA Yes

Verdict
For a hefty price, the Oppo BDP-103 offers top-notch performance along with every feature you could want in a Blu-ray player—and then some.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc