Ever since standalone Blu-ray players hit the market there's been a great deal of anticipation for an Oppo Blu-ray player, mainly because of the company's reputation for making excellent upconverting DVD players. Oppo held out for quite some time, and in retrospect it was a smart move; almost all the early Blu-ray players were plagued with usability problems and hardware limitations. After a long beta-testing period, the Oppo BDP-83 is finally here and it lives up to the hype. The player feels fast and reliable, has outstanding image quality on Blu-rays and DVDs, and it's a true universal disc player, handling both DVD-Audio and SACD discs in addition to Blu-ray Discs, CDs, and DVDs.
On the other hand, the Oppo BDP-83 really isn't for everyone. It lacks Wi-Fi and, more importantly, streaming media features such as Netflix and Pandora that are available on cheaper Blu-ray players from Samsung and LG. At $500 list price, it's also very expensive compared with the Sony PS3 Slim ($300), which also offers excellent Blu-ray playback--and can play high-definition video games, stream media, and browse the Web. If you're not a home theater enthusiast with a sizable budget, you'll get more value from a
PS3 Slim or LG BD390. However, if you are a dedicated, well-heeled home theater fan, the BDP-83 is a nearly perfect way to get the most out of your disc-based media.
We've seen Blu-ray players slim down over the years, but the BDP-83 is a throwback, coming in at 16.9 inches wide by 13.2 inches deep by 3 inches high. Once you pull the BDP-83 out of the box, the first thing you'll notice is its weight. At 11 pounds, it weighs about twice as much as Blu-ray players we test from manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, and LG. Aside from pure heft, the Oppo is solidly built, with a thick, brushed-metal faceplate and an all-metal chassis. It feels built to last, unlike the easily-scratchable plastic on the Samsung BD-P3600, for example.
The front panel design is relatively bare. On the front right is the power button, which is illuminated by a thin blue LED. Surprisingly, you can't disable the light, but a tiny piece of electrical tape will blot it out if it bothers you. In the center is the disc tray, and below that is the LCD screen that is large and easily readable from a distance. Just to the right of the disc tray is the open button, and off to the side is the directional pad that allows for basic playback controls. On the far right there's a USB port with a plastic cover.
The BDP-83's connectivity is comprehensive. Aside from the standard HDMI output, there is a component video output, which can output Blu-ray movies at 1080i, and a standard-definition composite video output.
Audio outputs include both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, plus 7.1 analog audio outputs and a separate stereo analog output. The 7.1 analog audio outputs are a great option for anyone with an older, non-HDMI AV receiver that still wants to listen to Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
The included remote is a winner too. Its buttons are large and most of the important functions are prominently located. Even better, the entire remote is backlit--a rarity with Blu-ray players--making it a cinch to operate in a dark home theater. Yes, we would have liked more button separation and it looks a little old school, but overall it's a great clicker.
We almost never comment on product packaging, but we'll make an exception for the BDP-83. It comes wrapped in a soft sheath that also doubles as a carrying case. You may never need to carry your Oppo around, but the cover does give the impression that something special is inside.