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Blu-ray players, like big-screen televisions, are no longer the premium devices they used to be. You can buy a 50-inch TV and a Blu-ray player for well under a grand now. Heck, a Blu-ray player is only worth AU$100, so why would you pay any more?
Until only very recently, home theatre entertainment had escaped the price erosion that has been a well-worn part of the computer industry. Now, both screens and components are commodities, and in turn this has caused high-profile products such as the Pioneer Kuro to dip out.
Regardless of this trend, a select few companies are still recognised for providing performance gear — and Oppo is one of them. Two years on, the BDP-83 remains one of the best Blu-ray players ever produced. But with the advent of 3D, and the explosion of streaming services — admittedly in the US only — the company felt the need to produce a new version.
Design and features
The BDP-93 is a 3D-capable Blu-ray player, which carries all of the goodness of the previous version including universal disc playback with both DVD-Audio and SACD included. Of course, the audiophile world has moved on and digital downloads are now the format of choice, and the BDP-93 now includes aout of the box. It supports DVD, audio CD, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, AVCHD, MP4, DivX, DivX Plus HD, MKV, MP3, FLAC(!) and WAV.
The video circuitry has had a bit of tweaking since the first model with the Anchor Bay's Video Reference Series (VRS) swapping out for Marvell's Qdeo image processor. Qdeo handles per-pixel noise reduction, de-interlacing and edge enhancement, and is particularly useful at upscaling DVD and web-based content. Likeplayer, the BDP-93 now includes two HDMI outputs — one for connecting to your screen, and, if required, one for connecting to a non-3D compliant receiver.
Some of the other features of the Oppo aren't as useful to us Australians as they include streaming services not available here yet. While Netflix is rumoured to be coming to this country, Blockbuster is unlikely to ever make it here, as for Hulu ... who knows?.
The cosmetics of this Oppo have been given a look that's now less "hodge-podge DVD player" and more "high-end HTPC". The fascia is sophisticated with a thick, black slab of brushed aluminium and a smaller readout.
Local distributor Merlin Audio is offering two versions of the player; however, both feature modifications make them a little more expensive than the model you can import from the United States (US$499). The "standard" version (AU$850) has a zone-unlock feature but it's a little convoluted, and while the "pro" includes a straightforward region change mechanism it's more problematic to upgrade. Check Merlin's site before you upgrade the firmware as it may not be compatible with your modded hardware.